Secrets to Happiness by Sarah Dunn

Welcome to a Hachette Group Early Birds Blog Tour for Sarah Dunn’s Secrets to Happiness.

“A lot of life, it seemed to Holly, was turning out to be just like that. You keep walking, and you keep breathing, and then one day you notice, again, the feel of the wind on your cheek.” (Page 275)

Secrets to Happiness by Sarah Dunn focuses on the life of Holly Frick and each of the people she effects with her decisions and how their decisions impact her life in a gigantic web. From Holly’s ex-boyfriend Spence Samuelson to Betsy Silverstein and her friends Amanda and Mark to her screenwriter/partner Leonard. Each of these characters is dissatisfied with their current lives and is seeking happiness and contentment in their lives.

“It was probably, primarily, mostly, the chemical hair straightening. Leonard had spent four hundred dollars to get his hair straightened with the new Brazilian hair-straightening chemical, and now it clung to his head like a wet washcloth and then spiked out at the ends down at the top of his neck, which was huge, due to the steroids he got from a pharmacist who ran an underground steroid ring out of his fourth-floor walk-up on Christopher Street.” (Page 25)

Dunn has a great talent for description and character development. Secrets to Happiness delves into the various situations, emotions, friends, careers, and other elements in people’s lives that they believe make them happy. Each of these characters experiences turns their preconceived notions upside down, leaving Holly, Spence, Betsy, and Amanda to make pivotal decisions.

“‘I don’t tell Betsy about my personal life.’

‘Good. You know what? Don’t tell anybody. Let’s just keep this our little secret,’ said Holly. ‘And now I even sound like a child molester.’

‘That’s straight out of the handbook.’

‘Page eleven,’ said Holly. ‘Right after the part where I lure you back into the back of my van with a box of kittens.'” (Page 21)

Overall, Secrets to Happiness reads well with a modicum of interruption from narratives that scope farther back into the lives of the characters. While some of these narratives, which mirror background checks for the characters, are well written, readers could find them distracting and unnecessary. Dunn is a talented women’s fiction writer with a flare for dramatic and unconventional characters, and her ability to dig beneath the surface of these professional New Yorkers is uncanny.

Also Reviewed by:
Everyday I Write the Book Blog

Hachette Group was kind enough to offer 3 copies of Secrets to Happiness by Sarah Dunn to 3 of Savvy Verse & Wit’s U.S. and/or Canadian readers; no P.O. Boxes.

1. Leave a comment on this post about what makes you happiest about your life.

2. Become a follower of the blog or if you follow, let me know.

3. Blog, tweet, or spread the word about the giveaway and leave me a link here.

Deadline is June 18, 2009, at 11:59 PM EST

Don’t forget my 2-Year Blogiversary Giveaway, go here for details.

Mating Rituals of the North American WASP by Lauren Lipton

Welcome to another Hachette Group Early Birds Tour for Mating Rituals of the North American WASP by Lauren Lipton.

What happens when a cautious, anxious New Yorker, Peggy Adams, spends time in Las Vegas for a friend’s last hoorah and sends caution to the wind, gets drunk, and meets a stranger? A quickie wedding and a huge hangover, followed by a deal of a lifetime for herself and her new husband, Luke Sedgwick.

“It took multiple tries to work through this last piece of information. Man. A man. A man in bed. In her bed. No, on her bed. He lay on his back on top of the coverlet, in a rumpled shirt and a diagonally striped tie, in slacks, socks, and burnished dress shoes that looked as if they’d been polished and repolished for the past twenty years.” (Page 5)

Luke is a WASP and the last of the old world Sedgwicks of Connecticut, and the last hope for an heir to the not-so-large family fortune. Luke is a writer. . . a struggling poet, with an on-again, off-again girlfriend, Nicole, that his great-aunt, Abigail, despises. Peggy is mistaken by Abigail for the relative of an old Connecticut family, though hers is from out west, and she scrambles to please her new family, while keeping her live-in boyfriend, Brock, who is afraid to commit, in the dark about her marriage.

“‘A promise ring?’ Bex yelled. The string of bells on the shop door jingled as it shut behind her. ‘Brock gave you a promise ring? What is this, seventh grade?'” (Page 17)

Lipton has a gift for chicklit/women’s fiction that is witty, fun, and vivacious. Both of these characters are anxious to break free from their current lives, but unable to make the move. Mating Rituals of the North American WASP will keep readers turning pages and will make the summer fly by. Lipton’s prose paints a clear picture of small-town Connecticut and its unique characters and sets the stage for a comedic plot steeped in romance, drama, and much more.

Also Reviewed by:
Luxury Reading

Here’s my interview with Lauren Lipton:

1. How hard was it to transition from writing journalistic stories to writing novels? What has journalism taught you about writing novels?

Writing a news feature has more in common with writing a novel than I’d expected. For both, you need an arresting first sentence (or first paragraph, or first chapter). You need a structure that leads readers through the story, and you need strong characters (or sources in journalism). The plus of writing a novel is that you can invent all the facts!

Working as a journalist gave me research skills for which I’m deeply grateful, and got me used to writing every day, whether I feel like it or not, in any environment. I could write sitting on the floor of the Port Authority Bus Terminal if I had to. (Though, yuck.)

2. Some writers extensively research their charcters or settings, do you spend a lot of time researching or so you simply let your imagination flow?

I let my imagination flow. Unfortunately, it always flows into areas I know nothing about. I’ll think, “I simply must set a scene at the annual Yale-Harvard football game!” -despite never having been to a Yale-Harvard game. This happened over and over while I was writing Mating Rituals of the North American WASP. I researched everything from how to apply roofing tar to the medical treatment of a stroke to the way to decant old port. And I found a Yale alum friend who took me to The Game.

3. Do you have any obsessions you would like to share?

My only current obsession is with getting some sleep. The time just before a book’s publication is nerve-wracking. I keep waking up worrying, “What if it’s a flop?”

4. In terms of marketing, what have been the most successful modes of marketing for you and your books? How would you describe your relationship with the blogging community?

When my first novel, It’s About Your Husband, came out in 2006, I had no idea how important the Internet was in getting the word out. I quickly learned how influential sites such as Goodreads, in which readers recommend books by word-of-mouth, are. And even in the two years since then, the influence of book bloggers like you has grown geometrically. As far as my relationship with the blogging community:
I don’t know how you all feel about me, but I would like to give you ladies a big hug.

5. What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve received and how did it help you?

An editor at the Wall Street Journal once told me I overwrote–that is, I used 10 words when one would do and tried too hard to be clever. He was right. After that, I toned myself down.

6. Do you listen to music while writing? If so, what were your top 5 songs while writing Mating Rituals?

Oddly enough, I might be able to write in the middle of the Port Authority, but music and TV distract me.

7. Are you working anything currently and could you share some tidbits about your latest project?

I’m just starting a third novel that’s more ambitious (and hopefully more serious) than the first two. It’s a retelling of a century-old novel-of-manners set in modern-day New York. It’s daunting, but I’m looking forward to diving in.

I want to thank Lauren for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer my questions, check out the giveaway below.

About the Author:
Lauren Lipton is the author of two novels, It’s About Your Husband (2006) and Mating Rituals of the North American WASP (2009). She is also a freelance journalist who specializes in style, business and trend stories.

She is currently fashion, beauty and lifestyle editor at ForbesWoman magazine. She has also contributed features on society and media to the New York Times Sunday Styles section. A former Wall Street Journal staff writer, she reported on copycat brides who steal their friends’ wedding ideas, pajama parties for grown women, and luxury homes with his-and-hers garages.

Born in Providence, R.I., Lauren grew up in the North County of San Diego and in Los Gatos, Calif., before moving to Los Angeles. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English and anthropology from Occidental College and a master’s degree in print journalism from the University of Southern California. Check out her Website, her blog and her Facebook Fan Page.

Giveaway Information:

Hachette Group is offering 3 copies of Mating Rituals of the North American WASP by Lauren Lipton for U.S. and Canadian readers of Savvy Verse & Wit.

1. To enter leave a comment on this post about the review or the interview.
2. For a second entry, let me know if you follow the blog in Google Reader, Bloglines, Rss, etc.
3. For a third entry, blog or Twitter about this giveaway and leave me a link here.

Deadline is June 3, 2009 at 11:59 PM EST

Don’t Forget About These Great Giveaways!
1 Signed Copy of The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire by C.M. Mayo, here. Deadline is May 30, 2009, 11:59PM EST.

2 copies of The Wonder Singer by George Rabasa, here; Deadline is May 30, 2009, 11:59 PM EST


Also Reviewed By:  
You’ve Gotta Read This! 


Follow Me by Joanna Scott

Welcome to the April Hachette Group Early Bird Blog Tour for Joanna Scott’s Follow Me.

About the Book (From Hachette Website):

On a summer day in 1946 Sally Werner, the precocious young daughter of hardscrabble Pennsylvania farmers, secretly accepts her cousin’s invitation to ride his new motorcycle. Like so much of what follows in Sally’s life, it’s an impulsive decision with dramatic and far-reaching consequences. Soon she abandons her home to begin a daring journey of self-creation, the truth of which she entrusts only with her granddaughter and namesake, six decades later. But when young Sally’s father–a man she has never known–enters her life and offers another story altogether, she must uncover the truth of her grandmother’s secret history.

At more than 400 pages, Joanna Scott’s Follow Me is a very detailed account of Sally Werner’s background as told by her granddaughter, Sally. Scott has a gift for detail, which can become a drawback when Sally Werner is wandering in the woods after leaving her baby with her parents. The twists and turns Sally’s life takes are driven by her fear and her desire to fit in without revealing her true self in each new location, but often the poetic prose gets in the way. It isn’t until page 53 that readers discover Sally has red hair, and readers find this out at the moment when Sally is getting her hair dyed blond. Scott’s writing vacillates from run-on sentences to short fragments, both of which readers may find slow down the plot.

“Running, Running, Running up the jagged slope behind the rows of new corn, over the stone wall, through the woods and meadows. Sting of nettles. Gray sky of dawn. Bark of a startled deer.” (Page 15)

In some cases, the narrative opts for telling the reader what’s going on, rather than showing the action and development through character interaction. Moreover, detailed backgrounds of side characters like Gladdy Toffit are asides that do not propel the plot or character development forward.

“Other days she’d [Gladdy] dress in one of the three rayon skirt-suits she owned, gather bills from the rolltop desk in the living room, and get in the car and drive to the bank in Amity to confer with the person she called her financial adviser. Late in the afternoon she’d come back home to pour her bourbon, urging Sally to join her because, as she claimed, she didn’t like to drink alone.” (Page 119)

Scott introduces Mole into Sally’s life, and that’s when readers will begin to cheer her on, hoping she will take this new opportunity to turn her life around, grab onto her responsibilities, and emerge a stronger woman. When these characters come together, the scene is full of playful tension and drama as he and his friends sit in a room playing Russian Roulette.

“It was similar to a dream, inevitable and natural and illogical. A slanting light shone from the lantern; the radio crackled its song; the river splashed; the crickets chirped; the tension made breathing impossible; the air was so thick the boy could hardly lift his arm, raising the gun to his head in an attenuated motion, the effort exhausting him, drenching him in sweat, the heat of fear turning his pale skin into melting wax.” (Page 104)

About halfway into Follow Me–which as a title works well for this journey type of novel–the drama heats up forcing Sally Werner to make a tough choice, and these scenes were the most vivid and well crafted. These scenes are the most vivid because they propel the plot, they are full of action, and you are right there with Sally in the thick of it, watching how these events bring out her inner strength and how they are bound to impact and force her to take conscious action.

“It meant she had to cover her face, so the next time he hit her his knuckles struck the back of her hand, bouncing her head away from him but not actually hurting her, which only enraged him more, and with a swift movement he yanked her arm away . . . his fist caught her in the mouth, driving into her gullet, shattering bone, filling her vision with a blank darkness that matched the sky.” (Page 206)

“But Sally could guess what the sound signified and looked up in time to catch a glimpse of Leo leaping from the peaked roof above the door. But she didn’t know he had landed on Benny Patterson until she felt her attacker veer backward. He would have pulled her with him if she hadn’t ripped herself free from his grasp. He stumbled, tripped over the corner of the step, and as the cat leaped forward, Leo’s weight exacerbated Benny’s fall; he plunged backward, his feet came out from under him, and his head snapped hard against the brick wall of Potter’s hardware.” (Page 208)

Overall, it takes a long time to be drawn into this book, and readers may have a difficult time getting a fix on Sally Werner’s character. It was hard to feel sympathetic toward her when many of the problems she faces are self-created and she often portrays herself contrary to her own actions. For instance, she considers herself a hard worker and reliable, but she gives birth and leaves her child within 24 hours of bringing him into the world, which is not a prime example of a reliable woman. Scott’s prose is beautiful, but readers can easily lose their footing in the world Scott tells rather than shows her readers. Clearly, Scott is a gifted writer and uses description well to create a vivid scene, but this story may have worked better if it was told in a different way. Those readers who enjoy generational novels and coming of age stories may be interested in this novel unless they have a rough time with overly descriptive novels.

About the Author:

Joanna Scott is the author of nine books, including The Manikin, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; Various Antidotes and Arrogance, which were both finalists for the PEN/Faulkner Award; and the critically acclaimed Make Believe, Tourmaline, and Liberation. A recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Lannan Award, she lives with her family in upstate New York.

Some of the Hachette Group Early Birds Blog Tour Participants:

Peeking Between the Pages
My Friend Amy
S. Krishna’s Books
Booking Mama
The Tome Traveller
Diary of an Eccentric
A Novel Menagerie
Necromancy Never Pays
Drey’s Library
Redlady’s Reading Room
The Burton Review
A Bookworm’s World
Jenn’s Bookshelf

***Giveaway Details***

Hachette Group has offered one lucky U.S./Canadian reader a set of Joanna Scott’s books: Follow Me, Make Believe, Everybody Loves Somebody, Liberation, Tourmaline.

1. One entry, leave a comment on this post other than “pick me” or “enter me”
2. Second entry, blog, Facebook, Twitter, or spread the word and leave a link or comment on this post that you’ve done so.
3. Third entry, follow this blog and let me know.

Deadline is May 4, 2009, 11:59 EST.

*** Giveaway Reminder***

Don’t forget to enter the Keeper of Light and Dust giveaway, here and here. Deadline is April 28 at 11:59 PM EST.

There’s a giveaway for 5 copies of Girls in Trucks by Katie Crouch, here; deadline is April 29, 2009, 11:59 PM EST.

A giveaway of The Mechanics of Falling by Catherine Brady, here; Deadline is May 1 11:59 PM EST

Galway Bay by Mary Pat Kelly

Welcome to the March Early Birds Tour from Hachette Group and Grand Central Publishing for Galway Bay by Mary Pat Kelly on this fine St. Patrick’s Day. As an added treat with my review, please check out the discussion with Mary Pat Kelly on BlogTalkRadio at 11 AM-12PM EST.

“I was used to the give-and-take of a large family, where one broke in on the other, splintering sentences, bouncing thought away from meaning. But Michael and I listened to each other, each waiting as the other found words for what we’d never said before, never even thought before, giving shape to dreams and to fears. I’d no idea I was such a worrier–the ifs and buts that flowed out of me. Michael teased them away.” (Page 105-106)

Sweeping novels that span several generations must be well-crafted to hold readers’ attention, especially if the historical novel is going to be more than 500 pages. Mary Pat Kelly’s Galway Bay will suck readers in, churn them in rip currents, and spit them out in untamed America along with the Kellys, Leahys, Keeleys, and other Irish immigrants fleeing their homeland during the repeated potato blights and following The Great Starvation.

Honora Keeley is set upon entering the convent until she meets the dashing novice adventurer Michael Kelly. She’s a fisherman’s daughter with a rich heritage steeped in lore and myth and he’s the son of a blacksmith forced out of his home when his parents die and the blacksmith shop is no longer his family’s anchor. They find each other in the good times and suffer through the potato blight, famine, the cruelty of the Sassenach (English) and landlords, and the rise of Protestantism. After a great deal of sacrifice and heartache, the Kellys have no choice but to flee their homeland to begin again in Amerikay.

Kelly’s poetic prose places the reader beside Honora as she makes her way through thick fog, a fog that has brought blight on potato farms in the past. It also will have the reader cringing as they stick their hands in the dirt, finding muck rather than hard potatoes to feed their bellies.

“The fog wrapped itself around me, heavy and moist. I’ll go along the strand–faster, and the tide’s out. I could hear the waves hitting against the fingers of rocks that stretched out into the water, but the fog hid the Bay from me.” (Page 120)

“I crawled to another patch and plunged my hand into the foul-smelling mess. I felt a hard lump–a good potato. But when I grabbed it, the potato fell apart in my hand, oozing through my fingers.” (Page 128)

Kelly creates well rounded characters from strong-willed Honora to her quirky grandmother and from gifted storyteller Michael Kelly to quick witted Maire. Frank McCourt’s quote on the cover of Galway Bay is spot on, this book will have readers laughing, crying, and cheering Honora and Maire onward. Kelly’s narrative will bring readers to tears more than once, but as they struggle alongside Honora and her family, they too will grow stronger and more aware of the blessings family can bring. Galway Bay is a mixture of narrative poetry and prose that generates its own folklore that will be told from generation to generation for years to come. It will be on my top 10 list for 2009, how about yours?

***Giveaway Details***

From Hachette Group, three copies of Galway Bay for three lucky U.S. or Canada readers; No P.O. Boxes please.

I will spring for one copy of Galway Bay for one lucky international reader outside the U.S. and Canada, so make sure you let me know who you are.

To Enter:

1. Leave a comment other than “pick me” or “enter me.”

2. Spread the word about the contest and leave a link here for a second entry.

3. Share your favorite St. Patrick’s Day tradition for a third entry.

Deadline is March 24, 5PM EST

About the Author:
As an author and filmmaker, Mary Pat Kelly has told various stories connected to Ireland. Her award-winning PBS documentaries and accompanying books include To Live for Ireland, a portrait of Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume and the political party he led; Home Away from Home: The Yanks in Ireland, a history of U.S. forces in Northern Ireland during World War II; and Proudly We Served: The Men of the USS Mason, a portrayal of the only African-American sailors to take a World War II warship into combat, whose first foreign port was Belfast. She wrote and directed the dramatic feature film Proud, starring Ossie Davis and Stephen Rea, based on the USS Mason story.
She’s written Martin Scorsese: The First Decade and Martin Scorsese: A Journey; Good to Go: The Rescue of Scott O’Grady from Bosnia; and a novel, Special Intentions. She is a frequent contributor to Irish America Magazine.
Mary Pat Kelly worked in Hollywood as a screenwriter for Paramount and Columbia Pictures and in New York City as an associate producer with Good Morning America and Saturday Night Live, and wrote the book and lyrics for the musical Abby’s Song. She received her PhD from the City University of New York.
Born and raised in Chicago, she lives on Manhattan’s Upper West Side with her husband, Web designer Martin Sheerin from County Tyrone.
Check out her blog for Galway Bay, here.
Check out the Book Club Discussion Guide, here.
“An Honor” by Mary Pat Kelly about her journey through Galway Bay and her heritage.
Check out this Guest Post at A Bookworm’s World from Mary Pat Kelly herself; It’s very inspiring.

Check out the other Blogs on the tour, here.


I also have two copies of Diana Raab‘s My Muse Undresses Me and one copy of Dear Anaïs: My Life in Poems for You. Deadline is March 18 at 5PM EST.

One gently used ARC of Reading by Lightning by Joan Thomas; Deadline is March 20 at Midnight EST.

Also Reviewed By:
Historical Tapestry

Drood by Dan Simmons

I recently received Drood by Dan Simmons for a Hachette Group Early Birds Blog Tour. Unfortunately, I have not finished this 775-page novel. However, I did want to share with you some information about this engaging work. Longer novels take me a long while to finish, but this is one that has me in suspense, and I’m eager to see it to its conclusion. There is one scene in particular that keeps haunting me, and it comes very close to the beginning. Moreover, this novel has peeked my interest in reading Charles Dickins’ The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

Check out the giveaway instructions below.

From Hachette Group, about the book:

On June 9, 1865, while traveling by train to London with his secret mistress, 53-year-old Charles Dickens–at the height of his powers and popularity, the most famous and successful novelist in the world and perhaps in the history of the world–hurtled into a disaster that changed his life forever.

Did Dickens begin living a dark double life after the accident? Were his nightly forays into the worst slums of London and his deepening obsession with corpses, crypts, murder, opium dens, the use of lime pits to dissolve bodies, and a hidden subterranean London mere research . . . or something more terrifying?

Check out this fantastic Q&A with Dan Simmons, here.

Check out this Video of Dan Simmons talking about his book:

About the Author:

Dan Simmons was born in Peoria, Illinois, in 1948, and grew up in various cities and small towns in the Midwest, including Brimfield, Illinois, which was the source of his fictional “Elm Haven” in 1991’s SUMMER OF NIGHT and 2002’s A WINTER HAUNTING. Dan received a B.A. in English from Wabash College in 1970, winning a national Phi Beta Kappa Award during his senior year for excellence in fiction, journalism and art.

Dan received his Masters in Education from Washington University in St. Louis in 1971. He then worked in elementary education for 18 years — 2 years in Missouri, 2 years in Buffalo, New York — one year as a specially trained BOCES “resource teacher” and another as a sixth-grade teacher — and 14 years in Colorado.

My favorite part from Dan Simmons’ Web site is the photo of his workspace, check this out:

Giveaway: (Part of the BookRoom Reviews Giveaway Carnival)

Hachette Group is offering 3 copies of Drood to 3 lucky winners from U.S. and Canada, no P.O. boxes.

Leave me a comment here, other than “pick me” and “enter me”

You have until March 6, Midnight EST!


Here’s the other bloggers on the tour:


Life After Genius by M. Ann Jacoby & Giveaway

Welcome to Hachette Group’s Early Birds Blog Tour for Life After Genius by M. Ann Jacoby, a book that examines one young genius’ struggle to find himself and his place in his own family and society; Thanks to Miriam Parker at Hachette for sending the book along for the tour.

Theodore Mead Fegley’s father runs a furniture store and funeral home with his brother Martin, while his mother’s main goal in life is to push her son to achieve as much as possible and not squander his intelligence. The pressure mounts for Mead as he speeds through his elementary and high school years, reaching the University of Chicago at age 15.

Mead is an awkward “geek” who tries to keep his head down and make it through what he believes is the roughest period of his life, high school. Despite attempts by his cousin, Percy, to pry Mead out of his shell, Mead stuffs his nose in his studies to graduate high school and head off to college away from his overbearing mother and the small town that despises and ridicules him.

The narrative easily shifts from the present to the past, and the chapter breaks make it easier to keep the timeline in perspective with details about what period in Mead’s life is witnessed and what location he is in.

Mead is a young teen thrust into academic life with peers who are much older and experienced. Even though he looks forward to college life and mingling with his peers, he finds the experience to be as difficult and confusing as his high school years. Mead’s life takes a stark turn when he meets Herman Weinstein, a fellow mathematics student at the university.

Mead meets Dr. Krustrup, who agrees to mentor him and Weinstein at least until Weinstein’s family fortune and connections convince him otherwise. Mead is easily pushed aside when Dr. Krustrup becomes chair of the mathematics department. While he is initially angry, he learns that his new mentor, Dr. Alexander, is much more inspiring. Under the tutelage of Dr. Alexander, Mead throws himself into the Riemann Hypothesis, and he hopes to either prove or disprove the hypothesis, which has been debated for more than 100 years.

Jacoby carefully intermingles events from Mead’s past into his present as a way to show how Mead’s character has developed and explain the reasons behind some of Mead’s reactions and behaviors at the university. As Mead grows closer to a solution, Herman insinuates himself further into Mead’s life. Tensions between the two friends–and I use this term loosely–continue to intensify, until a family tragedy and university pressure mount, forcing Mead to run home to rural Illinois several days before graduation, his major mathematical presentation, and his valedictorian speech.

While math problems make me cringe, this story brought me back to high school with the discussions of matrices–math I actually understood at one point–but Jacoby does a great job of including this information without burdening or boring the reader. As Mead’s life unfolds and the mystery grows more intense, the pages flow quickly, making the reader more anxious to learn the reason why Mead flees his sanctuary at the university when he is on the verge of success. Although this novel is dubbed an academic thriller that portion of the story fell flat. The descriptions, perceptions, and events in Mead’s life point the narrative more in the direction of a coming of age story. Jacoby’s academic thriller plotline did not have the foundation or twists and turns necessary to a successful thriller narrative. However, at the conclusion of the narrative, the reader will be pleased to see Mead find himself, what’s important to him, and how to cope with his reality.

About the Author:

M. Ann Jacoby has been an art director at Penguin USA for more than two decades. Life After Genius is her debut novel.

Without further ado, here is M. Ann Jacoby about her writing process.

Do you have a set writing routine? Do you get up early and start writing or do you write when the mood hits?

I do have a routine. After getting my errands out of the way Saturday morning, I sit down around noon and write for about six hours. The first hour or two involves a lot of staring out the window and getting back into the world of my novel. By Sunday I’m into it. I get started around 8 or 9am and can go all day. I have to remind myself to stop and eat. Then, reluctantly, I have to put it all away and go back to my Mon-Fri job. I commute to work on the train and usually wait till midweek to read and edit what I wrote over the weekend. I don’t write during the week. I need large blocks of time without interruption to get lost in the world of my characters. I usually get 12-15 pages written over a weekend. It’s a long, slow process but I find the breaks in between give me a chance to step back from my work and rethink before plunging in again.

Was the research and writing process for Life After Genius different from your normal writing process?

Research takes time away from writing. And I find that I write too much of my research into the story at first. I want to put all that new information to good use! But eventually I edit most of it back out so that the research feels more like a natural backdrop.

Do you have any advice for writers just starting out?

It’s very hard to sort out criticism in the beginning. What to listen to, what not to. For me, there was a lot of trial and error. A lot of crying. Try not to let the negative remarks destroy you. Look at them as an opportunity to learn and grow.

What are your favorite rewards for reaching your writing goals and why?

To create something that speaks to another person is a reward in itself. Immeasureable. Plus, it means I can go back and create more characters and more imaginary worlds. To get to do what I most love and get paid for it is like winning the lottery.

Are you working on any other projects, and if so would you care to tantalize my readers with a few hints?

The novel I’m working on now is loosely based on my mother’s parents who were bookies in West Palm Beach, Florida. The main character is Libby Freybaker who shared the pants in the family with her husband, my grandfather. She’s funny and smart and unconventional. It opens with them being handcuffed and arrested, then flashes back to tell the story of what led up to that point.

***Want to win a copy of Life After Genius by M. Ann Jacoby from Savvy Verse & Wit and Hachette Group?

I will pass along my copy to one International winner, please let me know in the comments if you are international! Hatchette Group will pass along a copy to a winner with a U.S. or Canada address.

***Make sure you leave me a way to contact you either an email address or through your blog. Those not leaving emails or blog links, will not be entered. Deadline is November 5, 2008.

1. Leave a comment on this post for one entry telling me what you find most interesting about the book or Jacoby’s writing process.

2. Post this contest on your blog or sidebar and return here to leave me a link to where you posted it for a second entry.

3. For those of you that do not have blogs, email five friends and cc savvyverseandwit AT gmail DOT com for your second entry.

Check out the other stops on the Life After Genius tour!

Marjolein Reviews
The Book Nest
Seaside Book Worm Blogger
Books by TJBaff

Linus’s Blanket

The Optimistic Bookfool
The Printed Page
My Friend Amy
Shooting Stars Mag
Books, Pungs, and More
A Novel Menagerie
The Tome Traveller’s Weblog
medieval bookworm
Book Critiques
B&b ex libris
Sharon Loves Books and Cats
At Home With Books
A Circle of Books
Book Line and Sinker

***More contests from Savvy Verse & Wit:

A copy of Black Flies by Shannon Burke

A copy of The Safety of Secrets by Delaune Michel! Deadline is Tonight at Midnight EST. Go here, follow the rules, and enter.