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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: beaux, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 7 of 7
1. The New York Times Review of Small Damages (and a brief accounting of kindnesses)

Twelve books, twelve years, four genres, and seven publishing houses ago, there was a lovely small New York Times review of a book I'd written called Into the Tangle of Friendship

Between that day and this one, I have been buoyed by readers and friends, by an agent and editors, by good-hearted bloggers and students, and of course by family in this strange but essential writing dream.  I have written odd books (a river speaks in one, corporate America is transformed into a Wonderland in another), "small" books, books that might have been more than they were and books that reached more readers than I thought possible.  I have kept writing because I can't help it, because it is, as I have said before, medicinal, because even when I tried to stop, I didn't know how stopping worked.  What does a life look like without story making and sentence crafting, without reaching and metaphor?  I don't know.  I don't want to find out.

Over the past few weeks, extraordinary kindnesses have been shown toward Small Damages, a book that I had worked on for many, many years.  Kindness within Philomel, that big-hearted publishing phenom that has gifted me with the talents and deep hearts of my editor Tamra Tuller (do I love her? yes, I do), Michael Green (president and (also) writer of some of the best emails ever), Jessica Shoffel (publicist extraordinary—unbelievably smart and quick and precise and there), Julia Johnson (who told me once that she has a secret third eye), Jill Santopolo (that uber-bright cutie who forged the original link), a fantastically talented design and editorial team, and an amazingly generous sales team.  Kindness from interviewers like Abby Plesser and Dennis Abrams.  Kindness from magazine editors like Darcy Jacobs of Family Circle and Renee Fountain of Bella and the super nice people of the LA Times.  Kindness from friends and from bloggers, each of whom is so dear to me, so valued.  (In case you are wondering, the spectacular quilted cover of Small Damages above was created by blogger and friend, Wendy Robards of Caribousmom.)

That should be enough, truly, but a few days ago, something else happened.  The phone rang, and it was my agent, Amy Rennert.  Fortunately, I was sitting down, for Amy had called to read me Jen Doll's most amazing review of Small Damages—a review that appears in this weekend's New York Times.

We yearn, as writers, to be understood.  We yearn to be read with an open heart. We can't even believe our good fortune when this happens to us in the pages of the Times.  When we are read and assessed by one as intelligent and thoughtful as Jen Doll.

The Times.

I have always loved the Times.  Today I love Her even more than always and forever.

There are no words.

A final note:  I have been typing this blog post with fumbling fingers, and I'm quite sure that I have erred somewhere up there.  But my fumbling became a trembling when Jillian Canto

17 Comments on The New York Times Review of Small Damages (and a brief accounting of kindnesses), last added: 7/17/2012
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2. Family Circle and Small Damages (blessed)

A long time ago I drew the conclusion that I was luckier than any girl had the right to be.

Today, proof absolute with these heart-expanding words from Family Circle Executive Editor Darcy Jacobs.  She uses them to recommend Small Damages to her associate editor, Celia, in the August issue of the magazine. Darcy's goodness to me is unparalleled.  I don't have the words.

A million thanks to Jessica Shoffel at Philomel, who does her job so exquisitely well, and to Tamra Tuller, who chose to read my book when it arrived at the old slush pile two years ago.  What an adventure we have had since then.

Kephart is a linguistic Midas—everything she puts to paper is golden, including this gem.

5 Comments on Family Circle and Small Damages (blessed), last added: 7/5/2012
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3. A Little You Are My Only News

I've never been to Brazil, but I have longed to go.  For the time being, You Are My Only is going in my stead, thanks to the good work of Amy Rennert and the Jenny Meyer Literary Agency, Inc.  Brazilian-Portuguese rights to the book have been sold to Novo Conceito.

You Are My Only also, as many of you know, went into a third U.S. printing this week.  For that enormous bit of good fortune, I have the world of generous bloggers and independent booksellers (and of course Darcy Jacobs, of Family Circle) to thank. Thanks today especially to Serena Agusto-Cox, who placed You Are My Only on the D.C. Literature Examiner gift book buying guide.  Check out the entire list for some spectacular recommendations from a very fine reader.

I thank you all.  From the bottom of my heart, I do.

Many thanks, too, to Elizabeth Law of Egmont USA, for being the bearer of good news.

4 Comments on A Little You Are My Only News, last added: 12/9/2011
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4. Politically Incorrect ( and totally out of print)...

I thought I'd take a second today to talk about a book I LOVE, but that you're unlikely to ever have the chance to read. Since no bookstore near you stocks it.

Because the book, BEAUX, is long out of print, and too historically placed, too offensive on its surface (however well written), for anyone to ever bring back from the dead. Though you might find a first edition on ebay if you hunt.

Written by Evan Commmager (friend to Robert Frost and wife to Henry Steele Commager)) and illustrated by the amazing N.M. Bodecker, Beaux (essentially a smart southern belle's YA novel) was published in 1958. But it came out at just the wrong time for longevity.

Because (obviously) in 1958 the world was about to change in important and dramatic ways that would make topics like escaped black chain-gang members (wrongly accused) with thick caricature-ish dialects into innapropriate fodder for light and humorous storytelling.

But the book is also funny and clever and weird and smart as hell, and so if you're someone (like me) who stumbled on it before you were old enough to understand how little you knew about the complexities of race relations, feminism, etc... then you probably liked this book a LOT, since you didn't yet know better.

It's basically the story of a precocious young narrator (Chris), who wants to grow up to be a writer and "pen trenchant novels" in a garret in New York City. But this narrator is certain that such a life won't lead her to produce children, and so she sets out to keep a "book for posterity" for her sister's offspring. (Her sister is a docile and gentle young woman studying at Sweetbriar) So the narrator not only takes it upon herself to write a book for her sister's posterity, but to help her sister produce that posterity. She sets out to find a series of beaux for her sister, so that she can document their stories.

Along the way, she (along with her best friend Junie) tangles with gender and race, and fat old dogs and fleas. She also gets into trouble, throws up, and becomes a "popular girl" at the book's end.

But what makes the book special is voice. There's a strange quality to Chris' narration. A blend of the old south, and a sideways view of that old south. A recognition of the gender divide, and a subtle resistance of that divide. Chris is willful and snarky and iconoclastic, but she isn't addressing the icons directly, and she isn't aware of her own politics. Yet. Rather, she's a tomboy, a contrarian. And so she walks a fine line between the world she lives in, and the world that we (her readers) imagine she must surely be heading for, a world far removed from big layer cakes and blancmange and chautauqua. New York City. Civil Rights. Intellectual friends.

So in the end, I don't think this book *is* politically incorrect. I think its a rare thing, a book thoroughly of its time, but written by someone with a critical eye and a task beyond indictment.

And I think that we often find this in children's books, because they are not required, as many adult books are, to be self-aware. Children can stumble. Children are allowed. To stumble toward the truth, slowly.

Though readers are expected to be a little more savvy.

(I only wish I could find you an illustration online!)

2 Comments on Politically Incorrect ( and totally out of print)..., last added: 7/6/2007
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5.

Debut Author of the Month: Donna Gephart...

Donna Gephart's first book As If Being 12¾ Isn't Bad Enough, My Mother Is Running for President! was released just days ago by Delacorte Press. Here she tells us a little about her first book, how she found her agent and shares her 10 Very Important Pieces of Advice for Unpublished Writers.

Just in case someone out there can’t get the gist of your book from its great title, please tell my readers about it.

Six-word alliterative version: Angst. Athletic (As if!). Assassination attempt.

Slightly longer version: Preparing for spelling bees, having a secret admirer, and waiting for her chest size to catch up with her enormous feet are pressure enough, but twelve-year-old Vanessa must also deal with loneliness and very real fears as her mother, Florida’s Governor, runs for President of the United States.

Tell me a little about your path to publication. How did you find your agent, Tina Wexler of I.C.M?

Several years ago, Tina put out a call for writers on the SCBWI Discussion Boards. I sent her the book I’d been working on and a cover letter, in which I wrote one sentence about a gawky, awkward spelling bee champ thrust into the spotlight because her mother is running for president. Although Tina didn’t think she could sell the book I’d sent, she did like my writing and expressed interest in my story about the girl whose mother is running for president.

Unfortunately, it was little more than a short story at the time. With Tina’s encouragement and that of my critique group, I turned that short story into a novel.

Tina had many revision suggestions, such as writing less about Vanessa’s romantic interest and more about the inside scoop on the political process. I did months more research, kept only the first two chapters of the original novel and rewrote the rest. Tina loved this version and sent it to seven publishing houses. She warned, “It might take several months till we hear anything.”

Three weeks later, I got The Call.

How did you feel when you got The Call?

I was in the middle of folding laundry (very glamorous, I know) when I saw the New York exchange on our phone’s caller I.D. I screamed, “It’s my agent. Everyone be quiet!” My son was the only one home at the time, and he was being quiet.

None-the-less, I locked myself in my closet and listened as my agent told me not one, but two editors were interested in my novel--one from Random House, the other from Scholastic. At the end of the day, Stephanie Lane from Delacorte Press, a division of Random House, sent me an e-mail telling me she was delighted to have acquired my novel.

Once your book was under contract with Delacorte, what was the editorial process like? Were there any surprises?

My experience working with my editor, Stephanie Lane, and the talented staff at Random House has been a dream come true. I learned that publishing and promoting a novel is truly a team effort.

Stephanie, of course, made excellent revision requests. This is the stage where larger issues are addressed. I added a minor character and made several changes.

Next, I was asked to go over the manuscript after a proofreader had made corrections. During this pass, I realized how many minor mistakes I hadn’t noticed. Oops!

Finally, I proofread the manuscript after it had been set for printing. I was surprised by how many new minor mistakes cropped up.

Also, it was great fun to have some say in choosing the cover model. (I don’t think this is typical.) I thought designer Kenny Holcolm did a fantastic job with my cover.

Why did you decide to use the world of election politics as a backdrop for your novel? Did anything in particular spark your book idea?

Writers are often told, “Write what you know.” I believe more in the adage: “Write what interests you, what sparks your passion.” Politics interested me and still does.

At the time, there weren’t many books for children about politics. I hoped my novel would be a fun introduction to the political process for young readers. In fact, if readers want to learn more about the president and the political process, I’ve included Web sites at the back of my book and on my Web site, www.donnagephart.com.

Do you have anything in common with your main character Vanessa other than your shoe size?

Besides having large feet, Vanessa and I both love the color purple, reading, playing Scrabble and hanging out with cute boys who have big hearts. (I married mine.)

On a deeper level, this novel is about Vanessa’s warm, caring relationship with her mother. Unfortunately, Mom’s obligations as a governor who is running for president keep their time together to a minimum. In the novel, Vanessa’s mother misses a very important spelling bee and is temporarily unavailable when Vanessa gets injured. My mother, on the other hand, attended all my school functions and was available for every important childhood event, but because she was a single parent who worked full-time, she was often too busy or tired for us to spend much time together. Vanessa’s feelings of loneliness came directly from my early childhood.

Does the fact that Hillary Clinton is in the Presidential race make you happy (in terms of your book sales of course)?

Wasn’t that thoughtful of Hillary Clinton to run for president the same year my book about a mother running for president was released?

You’ve done all sorts of writing including greeting cards, articles and essays. What led you to write for young readers?

I enjoy all kinds of humorous writing, but when I’m creating funny novels for tweens, I feel like my writing voice has found a home. Seeing my words on greeting cards and in magazines like Family Circle and Highlights for Children was thrilling, but being part of the amazing collection of literature for children is a true honor.

You read a lot of books in 2007. How do you decide which titles to pick up? Any favorites?

I pay attention to what people are talking/blogging about. I read reviews. I check the “new books” section of my local library obsessively.

Unfortunately, even though I spend most evenings reading, I never seem to make a dent in my growing pile of books I hope to read.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak made a big impression on me. It’s a sad, but wonderful novel narrated by Death.

But if I had to recommend one book that I read this past year, it would be The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie [which one the National Book Award for Young People's Literature in 2007]. This novel contains so many elements of excellent fiction. I learned about a different culture, and was moved to laughter and tears often. It’s a sparse, honest and moving read.

Lately you’ve attended an SCBWI conference in your home state of Florida and attended the ALA meeting at which the Newbery, Caldecott and other ALA awards were announced. Does it feel any different attending these events as a published author?

I was delighted when Random House sent me to my home city of Philadelphia to attend the ALA Midwinter Conference. It was exciting to talk with librarians, who were passionate about getting good books into the hands of young readers. And sitting in the audience while the Newbery, Caldecott, etc. awards were announced was surreal.

As far as the FL SCBWI conference . . . I’ve attended this wonderful conference, run by Linda Bernfeld, since it’s inception six years ago. It was an entirely different experience being behind the podium, speaking about being a first-time author, though, than sitting in the audience, listening. I was also able to give a workshop during the conference – a great experience for my first time presenting at a conference.

Both events were possible only because of the publication of my book, so I’m grateful for the new experiences I’m having.

Your book release date was just a few days ago (February 12). What have you done in the way of promotion?

I’m very lucky because Random House has an excellent publicity department, and the person in charge of promoting my book has been very busy. They’ve sent out review copies of my novel, written press releases and created “Mom for President” buttons to promote my novel. There is also a big promotion at www.itsafirst.net, where the novels of first-time authors are showcased.

On my own, I hired a Web site designer, Lisa Firke at www.hitthosekeys.com, to create my Web site, www.donnagephart.com. Seven months before my book’s release, I began a blog at www.donnagephart.blogspot.com. I’ve had business cards, postcards, T-shirts, etc. printed.

I’ve done some interviews and speaking at local schools as well.

You’ve spoken to groups about not giving up on their writing. Please offer some advice to unpublished writers.

10 Very Important Pieces of Advice for Unpublished Writers:

  1. Turn off the TV. Open a book.
  2. Write even on days when you don’t feel like it, especially on days when you don’t feel like it.
  3. Find or start a critique group. (Try to give more than you take.)
  4. First drafts are never as perfect as you think they are, nor are they as horrible. But they are all you need to begin revisions.
  5. Don’t compare yourself with other writers. Write the best book, story, poem, etc. that YOU can write.
  6. Revision is important. Um. Revision is vital to creating good writing. Er. Being willing to make significant revisions time and again will be the difference between being unpublished and being published. (That was certainly the case for me.)
  7. Act professionally, whether you’ve been published or not, in all correspondence, submissions, etc.
  8. Don’t write about what you think you should or what topic is hot at the moment. Write about what matters most to you.
  9. Read my article, “Six Reasons You Should Quit Writing and One Very Important Reason You Shouldn’t!” in the 2009 CWIM.
  10. Don’t listen to writing advice.
Good luck!

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6. Alongside Sarah Dessen's Along for the Ride

In the August issue of Family Circle magazine, Nothing but Ghosts joins Jude Watson's The 39 Clues: Beyond the Grave and Sarah Dessen's Along for the Ride as Kid Lit Cool Picks for Hot Days.

I am beyond grateful.

13 Comments on Alongside Sarah Dessen's Along for the Ride, last added: 7/10/2009
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7. You Are My Only: The Radnor Memorial Library Launch Party, Family Circle, BCCB

On this beautiful afternoon, I extend an invitation to all of you (oh come, please do) to the launch party for You Are My Only, which will be held at the Radnor Memorial Library on October 27 at 7:30 PM.

Radnor Memorial Library
114 W. Wayne Avenue
Wayne, PA  19087

I'm going to be sharing some of the images that inspired the book's making and talking about what happens behind the scenes as a book finds its footing.

And, but of course, there will be cake.

Thank you, Pam Sedor, for once again being the hostess with the mostest, and thank you Children's Book World, for always being there, making the good things happen.

I'm at work on my talk today.  In the meantime, I share two new reviews of the book:

"Kephart’s prose is poetry in motion—creating beauty out of everyday moments. This disquieting yet emotionally satisfying novel (written for young adults but a linguistic pleasure for any reader) alternates the stories of Emmy, desperate to find her missing baby, and homeschooled 14-year-old Sophie. The surprise is not in how these two soulful voices are connected but in the way they weave together to the book’s finely spun ending." — Darcy Jacobs, Family Circle (November 2011)

"This has a very different style from classic child-abduction melodramas such as Mazer’s Taking Terri Mueller (BCCB 6/83) and Ehrlich’s Where It Stops, Nobody Knows (BCCB 1/89); Kephart’s writing is a thing of beauty in its own right, and Sophie’s story earns its frequent and apt allusions to Rapunzel with its own fai

5 Comments on You Are My Only: The Radnor Memorial Library Launch Party, Family Circle, BCCB, last added: 10/9/2011
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