Friday, May 02, 2008

And The Winners Are...

So I held the big drawing last night for the I Spy contest! (Okay, so this involved me putting names into a bowl while my son watched Diego and pulling out four names...much less glamorous than it sounds.)

And here are our winners!

1) Jewels

2) Karen Lynch (who went so far as to send me a photo!)

3) Sarah White

4) Krisl

Congrats all! I promise to hold many more future contests as the pub date for Time of My Life approaches, so don't despair if you didn't win - more chances coming up soon. If you're one of the above winners, please email me at b/c most of you entered with the blogger no-reply email addy, and I can't write you directly.

And in the meantime, if you're looking for free books, head over to Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell's blog. She's giving away a book a week, per each author whom she interviews. So not only will you get great writing/author info, you might get a freebie! Here's more info:

"I've got a great batch of authors lined up from Jen Miller, author of "The Jersey Shore" this coming Tuesday (5/7); John Grogan, author of the best-selling "Marley and Me" on 5/13 (and yes, he talks a little about the movie which will be released Christmas Day 2008); Lisbeth Levine, author of "The Big Book for Your Big Day" - a wedding book featured in People Magazine last week; and Sean Murphy, "The Time of New Weather" a Taos writer/teacher who won a Hemmingway Award for his first novel and also taught with Natalie Goldberg for a time....and many more!"

Check out Kerri's site here: and add it to your daily blog check!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

GCC Presents: Sara Rosett and Getting Away is Deadly

Winners of the I Spy contest will be posted tomorrow! Yay!

I love the premise of Sara Rosett's new novel, Getting Away is Deadly, for several reasons. One, I'm always up for a good mystery, especially when the heroine is pregnant (LOL!), two) Publishers Weekly calls it "sparkling," which is hardly faint praise, and three) the plot revolves around a murder in which someone is pushed on a subway platform, and as a rider on the NYC subway, I always, always think about this...someone pushing me over the tracks or how easy it would be to kill someone on the spot. (Yes, I'm evidently disturbed. Moving on...)

Anyway, here are some more specifics on Sara's book, and then, she answers my five usual questions for Ask Allison readers!

GETTING AWAY IS DEADLY is the third book in the mom lit mystery series about a military spouse who runs a professional organizing business.

It was the perfect vacation until murder rearranged the itinerary.

With swollen feet, pregnant Ellie joins the nation’s tourists in seeing the sights in Washington D.C. But a fatal incident at the Metro station convinces Ellie that something is rotten in the capital city. Should she do the safe thing and pack her bags? Not likely when too many people are telling lies, hiding secrets, and acting suspiciously. Luckily, Ellie Avery is just the right woman to clean up the most mysterious cases of murder—even if she has to brave the most dangerous byways in the corridors of power . . .

1) What’s the backstory behind your book?
I accompanied my husband, who is military pilot, when he went to Washington D.C. for two training classes and those trips inspired the book. I didn’t witness a fatal accident in a Metro station, but I couldn’t help thinking what dangerous places they were. And then I made the typical mystery writer leap—what if someone fell into the path of an incoming train? It would be a great place for a murder since there aren’t any guardrails to prevent someone from falling into a train’s path.

2) It seems that a lot of readers confuse fiction with real life, assuming that a novel must be an autobiography of the author as well. How many elements of your real life are reflected in your book?
This happens to me all the time! Just because I’m a military spouse and I write about a military spouse, doesn’t mean the book is autobiographical. Of course, I understand how people could make that leap, but I’ve never found a dead body or helped the police solve a crime, so you’d think, it would be pretty obvious that Ellie isn’t me! I use my experiences as a military spouse for background for the book. I’ve written about deployments and what it feels like to move to a new city. In Getting Away, I write about what it’s like to go on a sort-term training assignment with your spouse. He’s focused on work and you’re flitting around the city sight-seeing. It’s a fun experience, but not quite a vacation. I try to include details about being a military spouse and a mom. Real life often inspires some of those tidbits, but the mystery and mayhem is all made up.

3) A lot of my blog readers are aspiring or new authors. How did you land your first book deal?
I always wrote stories as a kid. They were very short, usually about one chapter. I realize now that I didn’t have any plot in those early stories! Anyway, I went to school and got an English degree, then I worked as a reporter at a few Air Force base newspapers and as a writer/researcher for a travel company. All the time I was working at these jobs, I was filing away ideas for stories and reading as much as I could. I finally started writing a draft of what would become the first Mom Zone Mystery, MOVING IS MURDER, about eight years ago. It took me about a year to complete the manuscript. I revised it, entered it in contests to get feedback, and then began querying agents. After a year, I find an agent and then it took her several months to sell my mystery. Kensington Books published MOVING IS MURDER in April 2006.

4) I have a serious procrastination problem when it comes to tackling my fiction. What’s your routine? How do you dive it? Do you have any rituals or necessary to-dos before or while you write?
I began writing during my kid’s naptime, which was wonderful training in getting down to work right away. No time to surf the Net or check email. I had thirty minutes to get some words down on paper and I had to write fast! Now my kids are in school and I can be a little more relaxed. I usually start at the beginning and write all the way through to the end before I go back and do a revisions, but I do look over what I wrote the day before when I first sit down. For some reason, going over what I’ve already written helps me get into it and before I know it I’m into the story again.

5) Clearly, your book will be optioned for a multi-million dollar film deal! Who would you cast as the leads, if you were given creative control?
This is always a bit of a stretch because I don’t think about movie stars as I’m writing, but I’ll give it a shot:
Ellie: Sandra Bullock—she’d be able to pull off the seriousness and the humor.
Mitch (Ellie’s husband): Val Kilmer—loved him in The Saint
Livvy (Ellie’s daughter): don’t know any actor this young—Livvy’s only 20 months old!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Why I Read - A Shout Out to Trish Ryan!

So I've explored the whole notion of why I write here on the blog, but given that today is Trish Ryan's pub day, I wanted to also explore the notion of why I read. Obviously I read to be entertained and to get sucked into a story that sticks like taffy on my emotional radar, but sometimes, I read because it educates me in ways that I didn't even realize I needed or wanted to be educated.

Cue: Trish's debut memoir,

A while back, Trish sent me a note asking if I'd take an advanced peek at her manuscript and if I liked what I read, if I would be comfortable blurbing the book. Now, Trish's memoir is not only about finding a man (something I could relate to), it's also about finding religion, specifically, Christianity (something I couldn't). I wrote Trish back and said, a) I'm Jewish and b) I'm not such a good Jew on top of that and c) the subjects of Jesus and God and all of that make me a little squirmy. But because Trish is a generous friend, I also said, "But, if you still want me to read knowing all of this, I'm happy to."

So the manuscript arrived, and I worried - because, as I said, Trish is a friend - that I would flip it open and find myself in the middle of the literary equivalent of The 700 Club. (And I mean NO disrespect to people who adore The 700 Club or anything similar...I just mean that it's so outside my bounds that I was worried about relating.) But lo and behold, I started reading, and then read some more, and finally, after two or three days, downed the entire manuscript with yes, a few squirmy moments that took me outside my comfort zone, but mostly with an entirely new view and perspective into Christianity, into Trish and even into my own spirituality, whatever that may be.

And I realized that I'd done both Trish and myself a disservice by prepackaging up her book into its "religion" box because really, this book, not unlike my own book which gets packaged up into a "cancer" box, was about much more than finding God. It was about how one woman found her way in the world, and at its heart, the underlying story or message, truly resonated with me, even though Trish's life - in some ways - so wildly differs from mine.

Oh, and yes, I gave her a blurb.

So...anyway...all of this is a long way of saying that sometimes, consider picking up a book that you've heard great things about, even if you don't think it's entirely up your alley. Stretching yourself (and your reading list) even a teeny bit might be just what you need to open your eyes a little wider and gain insight into your own world.

So tell me, what books in recent memory have surprised you, sucked you in when you didn't think they would?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Hey Agent.....____ Or Get Off the Pot

Hey guys! Last day to enter into the I Spy contest! If you spotted the book anywhere over the weekend or online or wherever, post below to enter...

Question of the week: I had been working with an agent on a book proposal for awhile and it eventually fell through (due to lack of publisher interest). I am developing a second book idea, which I really like, but sent the proposal to her about a month ago and despite repeated follow ups have yet to hear back from her, either by email or phone. Does that mean she is just not interested and I should move on? What should I do?

Ah, that good old agent radio silence. What writer doesn't love that? (And chew his or her fingersnails down to the cuticle in the process of waiting?) For the record, I know of what you speak - not with my current agent, who is so fabu that she'd never dream of waiting more than a day or so to get back to me, which, incidentally, is one of the reasons I went with her - but with my agent before said fabu agent. Her seeming inability to return a phone call or an email was completely maddening, and ultimately led to the conversation in which we parted ways.

But, I've digressed. Enough empathizing from me, more advice, right?

Here's what I'd say to your specific situation. While a month in writer time is forever, a month in agent time really isn't that long. I'd give her two or so more weeks to get back to you. If you still haven't heard even a peep in your direction, I think that you are well within your rights to send her a very nice note (or give her a call, but it doesn't sound like she's easily reachable) flatly asking if she's still interested in this project and/or representing you.

In my case, with agent #1, who, like your agent, tried but failed to sell my first book, she was hemming and hawing and not responding to me because she had lost faith in me as a client. (I should note here that when I say "failed," I certainly don't blame her - I'm just using that word in the most literal of ways: she didn't sell the book. Turns out, in hindsight, that book was crap.) My agent was dodging me like we've all dodged romantic partners about whom we no longer felt romantic, but didn't know how to pull the ripcord. I have NO idea if your agent is over you, or if she's merely so busy that she can't respond to you, but either way, I think you deserve better. Maybe it's simply better communication with you or maybe it's that you need to find a better agent to suit your needs, one who still fully believes in your capabilities. I really don't know. And it sounds like you don't either. So until you have a discussion with her - awkward as it may be - you can't move on.

I've long said on this blog that agents need to be your advocates. You simply can't feel like the one person who is always supposed to have your back...doesn't. Much less doesn't even return your phone calls. In this case, it might simply be that you need to clarify with your agent what your needs are: that, if you're going to work together, that you'd like her to return your emails, and in turn, she might say, "no problem, but know that it takes me two months to read a proposal and respond." That's communication, and as long as both parties are cool with what they're hearing, you're good to move forward. But she also might say - and you need to be prepared for this - that she's NOT jazzed about this idea or whatnot.

And if she does, it's okay. You can and will recover. Really. Look at me. I did. I'm thrilled that my agent and I mutually agreed to ditch each other. It was seriously the best thing that happened to my career. Truly. Find an agent who always has your best interest in mind, and you'll already be better off than where your are now. Even if it sucks in the meantime.

Readers out there, ever been in this position or have any advice? Chime in!