Thanks to Myra, Jennifer, Stacey, and all of the others at Barrington Books Retold in Garden City, Cranston, Rhode Island, for a great book event last night. We discussed the history contained in Frozen Voices--focusing on narrator, Sadie Golub--and then I read two brief excerpts from the novel. The bookstore is fabulous (it has a HUGE section full of children's books and educational games) and I greatly enjoyed the event. Thanks a million!
If you are looking for something fun to do this evening, please join us for a Bingo Night fund-raiser for the Davisville Free Library! It is being held in the St. Francis de Sales Church Hall on School Street in North Kingstown, from 7 to 9 pm tonight. A bingo card for 9 games only costs $20 at the door, there will be cash pay-outs for every game, and light refreshments (desserts and sodas) will be sold. So, come spend your Thursday evening with us and help support one of the best libraries around!
Check out the library website for more information:http://davisvillefreelibrary.org/
Chris and his band, the South County Rounders, are playing a free gig at the North Kingstown Free Library tomorrow night! Wednesday, July 26th @ 6:30 p.m. at 100 Boone Street, North Kingstown, RI. If the weather is nice, the concert will be on the library's front lawn (bring lawn chairs and bug spray). If it rains, the show will move inside, to the library's conference room. Come on down and hear some excellent bluegrass/old timey music!
A huge thanks to Susan and the rest of the folks at Island Bound Bookstore on Block Island for making us feel so welcomed for my book presentation/reading there on Saturday! The audience was enthusiastic, the weather was beautiful, and we all had an absolutely wonderful time! This time, I concentrated my presentation on Sadie Golub (one of the narrators of Frozen Voices) and on her connection to Block Island.
After the reading, we discussed the possibility of me doing another presentation on Block Island, in February on the 111th anniversary of the Larchmont Disaster, this time at the Island Free Library. Stay tuned for more specific information. Should be fun being on the "Block" off-season!
I hope you all are having a wonderful summer, too!
After a very enjoyable winter and spring of doing book presentations/signings at local libraries, it seems I now am moving on to other venues. On Saturday, June 24th, I will be doing a reading/signing at the Island Bound Bookstore on Block Island. What a great opportunity to see this beautiful island that played such a large role in the Larchmont tragedy!
I've also been asked to appear at two other bookstores on the mainland (so far!), but we've haven't finalized the dates/times, yet. Please check my website again soon for further details.
And enjoy the summer!
Saturday, April 29th, is Independent Bookseller's Day! So, please support your local bookstore by going out tomorrow and picking up a copy or two of a classic, an old favorite, or a soon-to-be new favorite book! Check out this website for more details: http://www.indiebookstoreday.com/
Thank you to Maggie Holmes and the other good folks at the Richards Memorial Library in North Attleboro, MA, for a great book event last night. The venue was very inviting, the audience asked great questions, and the local television station even showed up to tape the presentation! (Stay tuned for information about how to access the program on YouTube.) One audience member was kind enough to bring along her collection of antique Block Island postcards, many of which featured scenes related to the Larchmont Disaster. I'd seen some of these on-line but this was my first view of the actual post cards. What a treat!
A few days ago, a friend called me to say that he'd visited Brown Bookstore and had seen Frozen Voices prominently displayed at the cash register. Chris was nice enough to stop by the store and snap a few photos for me, which I have included with this blog. Check it out!
Thanks to Brown Bookstore and to all of the independent bookstores in the area that are carrying Frozen Voices for me. If any of you readers are in need of another copy of the novel, please stop by one of these stores and pick up one. It would be great for us to help support local businesses!
On Friday, I drove around Rhode Island and Eastern Connecticut and dropped off copies of Frozen Voices at most of the independent bookshops in the area. It was an amazingly warm and sunny day--I think the temperature topped 60 degrees by mid-afternoon--and I really enjoyed getting out and seeing beautiful Southern New England. I drove from North Kingstown to Newport to Middletown to Barrington to Providence to Cranston to Mystic (CT) to Westerly to Wakefield and then back to North Kingstown: 160 miles total. With all the stops I made, the trip took about six hours. Me in my Camry, singing along to Van Morrison's Greatest Hits.
Even more than the trip, though, I enjoyed meeting and speaking with all of the people who worked in the various bookstores. There is something special about folks who spend their days surrounded by great literature, past and present. Each bookseller accepted a few copies of the Frozen Voices from me and most suggested that I contact them soon about setting up readings/signings at their stores. I'm sure I'll enjoy getting out and sharing the book with different audiences.
I've posted the names of the bookstores on a new page of this website: Where to Buy: Stores. If you get the chance, please stop by one of them and support your local, independent bookseller. Also, keep an eye on my "Appearances" page for listings of upcoming readings.
And the journey continues!
Tonight, I did a book talk/reading at the North Kingstown Free Library, right here in town. A roomful of people turned out to hear about Millard Franklin, one of my four narrators. I did a slide presentation, read a brief excerpt from the book, and then answered everyone’s questions. The audience consisted of a lot of folks I knew but also a lot of new faces, too. And everyone asked such great questions! Thanks to the North Kingstown Arts Council for sponsoring the event and to the library for inviting me to participate. I had a blast!
Actually, I’ve been surprised at how much I’ve been enjoying doing these presentations/readings. I was afraid that I’d be nervous or self-conscious. And I am…for about 15 seconds. And then people start asking questions and I can see they’re interested in the novel’s story and so I forget all about myself and just enjoy the lively discussions. These events really are a lot of fun!
Chris and I are in Washington, DC, attending the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP)’s annual conference, along with 15,000 other writers. It is absolutely mind-boggling to see so many aspiring authors all together in one venue. The conference, itself, is being held at the Washington Convention Center, but various activities take place off-site, at hotels and restaurants in the DC area.
Like tonight’s reading…
Fairfield University’s MFA Program and New Rivers Press sponsored a reception/reading for their recently-published authors at the Mandu, an upscale Korean restaurant on K Street NW. The food was delicious and the company was wonderful. I finally got to meet Nayt from New Rivers Press, the very patient man who oversaw the editing of Frozen Voices. And he was just as nice as I thought he would be, too!
I did a brief reading from Frozen Voices and then about a half-dozen other authors read from their newly-published books, too: Matt Winkler, Elizabeth Searle, and others. Really good stuff! Although it was a bit noisy in the restaurant, everyone in the loft listened attentively and applauded enthusiastically. A lot of fun!
The AWP Conference was amazing: thousands of writers attending hundreds of seminars. Chris and I spent much of our time at the Bookfair, the huge room with all of the tables/stalls for all of the schools, publishers, and other organizations that wanted to distribute information and sell books. I spent a few hours signing copies of Frozen Voices at both the Fairfield University MFA booth and the New Rivers Press booth. I really enjoyed talking to people about their own writing projects, too…so many innovative story concepts!
While in DC, Chris and I went out with some good friends to celebrate my birthday at a Cuban restaurant. The meal was delicious and then I got to blow out a candle stuck into some yummy rice pudding. How do you beat that?
I can’t believe that Frozen Voices was published more than a month ago. It seems like it’s only been out for a few days. But, at the same time, so much has happened! For example, a few weeks ago (December 30th), Chris and I traveled down to Enders Island, off the coast of Mystic, Connecticut, so that I could do a book presentation/signing for the students of Fairfield University’s MFA program, my alma matter.
During my first reading in Minnesota and my Rhode Island book launch on December 10, I did a presentation about George McVay, one of my four narrators who was the captain of the Larchmont. For my presentation at Enders, I spoke about Sadie Golub, another of my narrators, who was a dressmaker, recently immigrated from Russia. Since the audience at Enders was predominantly other writers, I spent more time discussing how I conducted my research about Sadie and then how I used the research to create a detailed narrative about her life before, during, and after the disaster. The audience was great! They listened attentively and then asked some really great questions. Afterward, several people came up to me and discussed the books that they were writing themselves. I felt privileged that they would share their ideas with me.
Since I can never eat before a presentation (too nervous!), Chris and I went out for a late lunch afterward with Ben Fine, another FUMFA alumni. We had a great time at a Mystic steak house, discussing future writing projects (Ben and me) and smoking meat (Chris).
My next book presentation/signing will be at this year’s AWP Conference in Washington, D.C., on February 9th through the 11th. That’s going to be quite a different audience than Enders. I have no idea what to expect!
And now we’ve had the Rhode Island book launch and it was WONDERFUL!
On Saturday, Chris, Mom, and countless other friends and family members helped throw a fabulous party, celebrating the Rhode Island launch of Frozen Voices. It was held at the Davisville Free Library in North Kingstown, the BEST library in the world, as far as I’m concerned. (I’ve been going there for decades, ever since a friend, Cindi Cady, invited me to join their book club. Thanks, Cindi!) We had some great munchies: we bought platters of food (sandwiches, veggies, fruit, cheese, hummus, etc.), Mom made some yummy appetizers, Jim Kennedy from Confections (Fall River, MA) made a beautiful cake and cupcakes, and Jayna White brought iced tea and helped set up everything. And, of course, Sarah Ornstein and the other folks at the library were nice enough to let us take over the place for the afternoon (Thanks Sarah!).
And so many people came to the launch! Friends and family from all over the area, some of whom I haven’t seen in years. Having everyone there made this special event into something that I will never forget. I sincerely thank you all from the bottom of my heart.
Once everyone settled into their seats, I did a brief slide presentation on the history in the novel (Thanks, Sarah, for your technical assistance!), read a short excerpt from one of the book’s chapters, and then answered some great questions from various folks. After that, we all ate and talked and enjoyed each other’s company. Oh yeah…And I sold all the copies of Frozen Voices that I had with me! Actually, some folks wrote down their names and addresses so that I could notify them when I have more books available for signing/selling. Pretty cool!
Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to publish a book. And now I’ve done it! Chris asked me last night, “So, now what?” It only took me about two seconds to reply. Now, I want to promote Frozen Voices so that it reaches as many people as possible. (Read Across Rhode Island?) And then I’d like to find a literary agent and to set up publication of more novels. I have another historical fiction novel and two young adult novels that I’ve written. This whole journey with Frozen Voices has been so fantastic, I can’t wait to do it again!
(I used WAY too many exclamation points in this blog posting…My apologies to my MFA professors!)
Frozen Voices is launched!
On Wednesday, Chris and I flew to Fargo, North Dakota and then drove to Moorhead, Minnesota, to participate in a reading for New Rivers Press at Minnesota State University Moorhead. Everyone involves was so kind and welcoming. Chris and I had a blast!
Wednesday, we arrived in Fargo mid-afternoon, starving. Because of the timing of the flights from Providence, we’d managed to miss both breakfast and lunch. We found this GREAT pizza place, Blackbird Woodfire Pizza on Broadway, just a few blocks from the hotel and devoured a delicious Mediterranean salad and a wild mushroom pizza. And tasty desserts, too. After dropping our luggage at the hotel, we went out to the Junkyard Brewery in Moorhead, where we drank some awesome craft beers—peanut butter!—and heard a great band, the Cropdusters, playing some original folky music. Chris, who didn’t bring his fiddle with him on the trip, was positively twitching to play with the band. (We even went out to a few pawn shops to see if we could find a violin. No luck, unfortunately.)
Thursday, we had a tasty brunch at Mom’s Kitchen in Fargo before heading over to MSUM for the reading. Copies of Frozen Voices arrived from the post office—delivered by the great Al Davis, NRP’s senior editor—just twenty minutes before showtime. Phew! At the reading, Al took care of the introductions and then Elizabeth Searle did an excellent reading of excerpts from her new NRP novel, We Got Him. She was so expressive and animated that I felt like I was watching not only a reading but also a piece of performance art. I suppose this makes some sense considering Elizabeth is also the author of “Tanya and Nancy, a Rock Opera,” which is currently being performed in a Chicago theater. I really enjoyed Elizabeth’s presentation.
Then came my turn. With Chris’s help, I showed a few slides that explained the genesis of George McVay, one of the narrators from Frozen Voices, and then did a brief reading from one of George’s chapters. Although I was a little nervous when I began my presentation, after a few minutes, I enjoyed myself. Everyone in the room was smiling and nodding and being very encouraging. Afterward, several people offered kind words of encouragement. A few even bought books and asked me to sign them—a new and fun experience for me!
After our readings, some folks did a memorial reading and reminiscences for Thomas McGrath’s 100th birthday. Tom was a poet, teacher, and radical, formerly involved with the school. From what everyone was saying, Tom was quite a character; I wished I’d had the chance to meet him. I’ve already ordered one of his books of poetry, Letter to an Imaginary Friend.
The evening ended with a celebratory dinner at Al and Cathy Davis’s home, a few blocks from the MSUM campus. Good food, good wine, and wonderful company! Chris and I were both sorry to leave.
The entire book launch experience was absolutely fantastic. Everyone was so kind, complimentary, and encouraging. I formally issue a huge THANK YOU to everyone who was involved!
Happy Veteran’s Day!
This Monday afternoon, I was on my way to one of my classes at the University of Rhode Island (I’ve started working on my PhD in Literature/Creative Writing—but that’s another story!), when I noticed a padded envelope on my front stairs. Thinking it was a book I’d ordered from Amazon.com (OK, so I order lots of books!), I casually ripped open the envelope and pulled out the book, only to see my own face staring back at me from the cover of Frozen Voices! Yes, I was more than a little bit surprised! I took the book to class with me, showed to everyone there, and received hearty congratulations all around. I guess I really AM going to be a published author!
The accompanying note from Nayt at New Rivers Press informed me that this was a galley copy for me to review. He said that they would also be checking it at NRP and that they would be sending out copies to reviewers, as well. Everything is happening so fast, now!
Today, Chris (my husband) made reservations for us to fly out for the launch of the book at New Rivers Press/University of Minnesota at Moorhead. We are flying in and out of Fargo, North Dakota, which is apparently just over the state line from Moorhead. I feel like that makes us uniquely lucky because how many people can actually say they’ve been to Fargo, right? Nayt e-mailed me yesterday to say that I’d be taking part in one reading at the college and perhaps one more downtown. I suppose I should be nervous, but instead I’m just really excited.
Over the next few days, I’m planning on putting together a PowerPoint presentation of Frozen Voices to possibly use for my readings in Minnesota but definitely use for my readings/signings back here in Rhode Island later in the month. My plan is to compile the presentation before Thanksgiving so that I can try it out on the family after our turkey dinner. (Hopefully, a friendly crowd!) I already called the North Kingstown Library and plan to contact other venues to set up even more readings. I want EVERYONE to read my book!
Of course, the first thing I need to do is to edit the galley for Frozen Voices so that NRP can make the corrections and print the book. So far, I’m about halfway through it and have only found a few errors. Better get back to it, though!
Since the end of August, I’ve written twice to Nayt, asking about Frozen Voices’s publication schedule. Although he assures me that we are on track for a December 1st book launch, I think I would feel more confident about things if he sent me the next round of edits. I have not received anything from New Rivers Press since June and I am becoming somewhat anxious about hitting that date.
Chris, my husband, and I are scheduled to fly out to Moorhead, Minnesota, (the home of University of Minnesota Moorhead and New Rivers Press) for a December 1st book reading/signing. I am really looking forward to meeting Nayt and Meghan and all the other folks that have been instrumental in helping prepare FV for publication. Seeing the school and the NRP offices will be fun, too, to see where “it all happened.” Unfortunately, we won’t be able to stay too long because Chris and his band have a gig at 6 p.m. the following night, in Wickford, Rhode Island.
And then I am scheduled to have my Rhode Island book launch the following Saturday, December 10 at 2 p.m., at the Davisville Free Library here in North Kingstown. We’re planning on providing food and drinks and having a friend make a fancy Frozen Voice cake, so if you happen to be in the area, please stop by.
And then, Elizabeth from Fairfield University’s MFA program e-mailed me and asked me to do a reading/signing at the MFA winter residency on December 30th, on Enders Island in Connecticut. My event coincides with alumni day, so I’ll get to see a bunch of friends, too, as an added bonus. Should be fun!
I just wish NRP would send me the interiors or something so that I felt more confident that I’ll have a book in hand to sell at these events! I know I tend to worry about things...
So last week, I wrote back to Nayt at New Rivers Press, asking him eighteen questions about the pending publication of Frozen Voices. Yes, eighteen. I think it is fair to say that I am getting more and more excited about the prospect of seeing my writing bound in a real, live book. Just a few more months, now!
In his calm and patient responses, Nayt mentioned that he'd been having a problem getting in touch with the book's designer (a student) over the summer but hoped to reconnect with him, now that their fall semester was about to begin. If not, Nayt said he'd have someone from the art department assist with FV, who should be able to lay it out in just a few days. We still have to get through another round of edits and then the galleys before the book is ready for publication.
Nayt also mentioned having an authors' event at the school in early December. I'd really like to attend that so that I could meet the people who have been instrumental in bringing this dream to fruition: Nayt and Meghan and the whole team of students who worked so hard to make Frozen Voices the best book it could be. I asked Nayt to send me the details so that I may purchase my plane ticket and make a hotel reservation.
In case you were wondering... Yes, I have started working on my next novel. Its working title is Stained Glass Angels and it is about a mom who's trying to reconnect with her two adult daughters through a shared stained glass class. The book is still in its early stages, but I am excited about the depth of feeling that the writing seems to be capturing. I'll keep you posted on its progress.
Nayt wrote back today, saying, “I’m still waiting to get the interior files back from our design student. So, once that happens, I’ll have that round out to you for more edits and we can get on producing galleys.”
He went on to say that FV will be available on-line November 1st and that I could plan a book launch for later in November. I’ll have to contact Nayt again soon to set up an exact date for the book launch. How exciting!
So, my workshop class was not wild about “The Wisdom of Elephants.” They said that, although the piece was cleanly written and contained decent characters, descriptions, etc., it was overly-sentimental to the point of being maudlin. Bummer. Fortunately, they gave me many useful suggestions of what to do to repair the piece, but I think I have quite a bit of editing to do.
Eugenia Kim was an excellent alumni workshop leader. She gave us assignments to do each evening, ones that taught us about specific elements of craft: character, setting, etc. I took copious notes so hopefully whatever information I was unable to absorb at the time, I’ll be able to pick up when I reread the notes later.
While at the alumni conference, I MIGHT have made a connection with a literary agent, but I want to wait until I know for sure before I blog anything more. Fingers crossed!
Yesterday, I wrote to Nayt at New Rivers Press, asking him when I should expect the new round of edits, when the galleys would be ready, and what the expected publishing date was for Frozen Voices. Just a few months now!
Tomorrow I leave for a writers’ conference on Enders Island, off the coast of Mystic, Connecticut. It is an alumni workshop for folks like me who graduated from Fairfield University’s MFA/Creative Writing Program. This will mark the third year that I’ve attended this conference and I find that I get a lot out of it each time. For the past two years, the workshop was taught by Michael White, the director of the MFA program. This year, he stepped down as director and is not teaching the class either. Eugenia Kim, another professor in FU’s MFA program will be doing the honors and I am looking forward to seeing what she does differently from Michael.
The conference runs Friday afternoon to Tuesday night but we’ll be staying all day Wednesday, too, to give ourselves a little recovery time. I love these workshops but they are quite exhausting. For the class, each of us alumni students—there are eight of us, in total—had to submit 15 pages of a piece we are currently working on. I submitted a short story called “The Wisdom of Elephants.” I’m trying to learn how to write a good short story so that I may use them to apply for various grants, publications, and contests. We’ll see how Eugenia Kim and the rest of the alumni class feel about “Elephants.”