A Word with Writers Event: Mira Jacob and Kirstin Valdez Quade

June 14, 2015 § 3 Comments

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June 15, 2015

The Sleepwalkers Guide to Dancing and Night at the Fiesta Books

The Sleepwalkers Guide to Dancing and Night at the Fiestas Books

I picked up two new books at Saturday’s A Word with Writers event, featuring Mira Jacob and Kirstin Valdez Quade, as part of a series sponsored by Bookworks to benefit the Albuquerque Public Library Foundation.

First the authors read excerpts from their books:

The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing by Mira Jacob:

“Amina wasn’t totally sure where one should be when one’s brother was being seduced, but she was pretty sure the backseat was not the right place.”

Night at the Fiestas by Kirstin Valdez Quade:

“Frances was pretending to be someone else, someone whose father was not the bus driver.”

During the Q&A that followed, I asked the question:

“I’ve read a lot of articles lately that discuss how even though there is a desire among readers for more diversity in books, there are still barriers to the publication of diverse books. Did either of you encounter these types of barriers in your publication process, and if so, what were they and how did you overcome them?”

Question for A Word with Writers Event on diversity in publishing.

Question for A Word with Writers Event on diversity in publishing. Yep, I wrote it down first.

Mira Jacob said that when she first started writing, she assumed that readers would only want stories from a white American viewpoint, so she wrote white American main characters. The stories were awful because they were not authentic for her. Once she started writing from a viewpoint that was true for her, (an Indian immigrant family adjusting to life in the U.S., including New Mexico!), readers were very receptive. She did add that when approached about a movie version of her book, the executives were worried that there weren’t enough Indians in America to constitute a good-sized audience. “What about everybody else in America?” Jacob said. “But that’s Hollywood.”

Mira Jacob signs "The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing" at A Word with Writers event sponsored by Bookworks to benefit the Albuquerque Public Library Foundation.

Mira Jacob signs “The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing” at A Word with Writers event sponsored by Bookworks to benefit the Albuquerque Public Library Foundation.

Kirstin Valdez Quade agreed that readers are by nature empathetic and want to read books from different cultures and ethnicities, but the publishing industry tends to be risk adverse, and anything non-white can be seen as a risk.

Kirstin Valdez Quade signs "Night at the Fiestas" at A Word with Writers event sponsored by Bookworks to benefit the Albuquerque Public Library Foundation.

Kirstin Valdez Quade signs “Night at the Fiestas” at A Word with Writers event sponsored by Bookworks to benefit the Albuquerque Public Library Foundation.

One extra tidbit that was super exciting for me, of must-cut-down-word-count fame: both Jacob and Quade tend to overwrite and then trim down, a lot. Jacob admitted her original draft of The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing was twice as long. Twice!

I’m in good company.

New Books from Darynda Jones and Jeffe Kennedy

June 4, 2015 § 2 Comments

Bliss
June 1, 2015

Saturday I went to the book signing for fellow LERA members Darynda Jones and Jeffe Kennedy at Page One Books here in Albuquerque.

Darynda Jones Jeffe Kennedy Authors Booksigning

Darynda Jones and Jeffe Kennedy at Page 1 book signing for “Eighth Grave After Dark” and “The Talon of the Hawk”

Jeffe Kennedy signed for the next book in her The Twelve Kingdoms series, “The Talon of the Hawk.” She said that she pitched her first book in the series as “The Middle Princess” because in the fairy tale the eldest and youngest princesses always get a story, but the middle princess never does.

Darynda Jones Jeffe Kennedy authors book signing

Jeffe Kennedy at Page 1 book signing for “The Talon of the Hawk”

Darynda Jones signed for the next in her Charley Davidson series, “Eighth Grave After Dark.” (I also picked up the previous book “Seventh Grave and No Body.” I’m a wee bit behind.) Darynda said that when she first started writing the series she envisioned it being about Charley, the Grim Reaper, slowly but surely coming in to her full power. What readers really responded to was the world-building and that led to the expansion of the series into the layered, multi-character universe fans know and love.  

Darynda Jones Jeffe Kennedy authors book signing

Darynda Jones at Page 1 for book signing “Eighth Grave After Dark”

So now I have some exciting new books to read to distract me from my synopsis writing nightmare.

I mean, Stephen King said, “If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.”

I love when I can justify my excuses.

Laurie Halse Anderson at Alamosa Books

January 13, 2014 § 5 Comments

Bliss
January 13, 2014 

I read this synopsis from Book Riot on The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson and thought “what a cool story. I should check that out.” Then somebody walked into my office.

That very night I read in the newspaper that Laurie Halse Anderson was going to be at Alamosa Books on that Friday, January 10, 2014 to sign her new book. Never ignore a coincidence, as Deepak Chopra says.

Laurie Halse Anderson and me at Alamosa Books in Albuquerque, NM on January 10, 2014.

Laurie Halse Anderson and me at Alamosa Books in Albuquerque, NM
on January 10, 2014.

During her talk, Laurie Halse Anderson hooked me with the magical musical moment thing. She was explaining  how her reason for writing her YA novel Prom was to get to this one page, where the perfect song comes on and all the social barriers that separate people disappear and everyone just starts swaying to the music.

It made me think of that scene in The Perks of Being a Wallflower where Charlie is watching Patrick and Sam dancing to “Come On, Eileen” and he is shifting from foot to foot, psyching himself up to join them. Or last Saturday night, when the band at the club started playing “Shout” and me and my friend and practically everyone else in the place rushed to the dance floor and started jumping and singing and just about losing our damn minds.

My signed books by Laurie Halse Anderson. The Impossible Knife of Memory and Prom.

My signed books by Laurie Halse Anderson.
The Impossible Knife of Memory and Prom.

I have two new books on my To-Be-Read list now.

“Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet” Book Launch Was a Party at Bookworks

November 4, 2012 § 9 Comments

The book launch party for Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet by Darynda Jones was held at Bookworks on October 30, 2012, the day before Halloween. So totally fitting.

Darynda (wearing the hat) signed with fellow New Mexico authors Gabi Stevens and Katie Lane. Katie brought the hat.

The three authors took turns reading from their books. Katie Lane read the first few pages of her debut novel Going Cowboy Crazy.

“What kind of a brute owned it, anyway? Obviously, the kind who thought it went with his large pe—”

Katie stopped reading. “Are there any kids in here?”

The audience erupted with laughter.

“You don’t have to buy my books, but you do have to come up and touch them,” Katie said, referring to the model on the cover with his shirt hanging open. My advice—buy the book, too. It is every bit as enjoyable as looking at the hot cowboy. (Read my review here.)

Me with contemporary romance author Katie Lane.

Fantasy romance author Gabi Stevens said she acted before she wrote. Strike a pose, girl!

Gabi’s spirited reading from her latest book, Wishful Thinking, inspired me to pick up the first book in her Time of Transition trilogy, The Wish List.

Gabi shows how a bracelet she has owned forever matches the one worn by the heroine on the cover of her first book. This was not planned. This is magic.

Darynda Jones is a born storyteller. As a kid, she used to go around her neighborhood, knocking on doors and inviting people to come to her plays.

Katie Lane said she loved rooming with Darynda at an RWA conference because Darynda told bedtime stories and lulled Katie into sweet dreams.

I am really excited to start reading Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet. This is Darynda’s follow-up in the Charley Davidson series to Third Grave Dead Ahead, which was phenomenal. Read my Third Grave review here.

Thank you, Bookworks of Albuquerque, for throwing this launch party. It was a blast!

From left to right: Darynda Jones, Gabi Stevens, and Katie Lane.

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