Quantcast

Monday, June 30, 2014

Why Work in Book Publishing?

I have always wanted to work with books, ever since I was a preteen and noticed in one book that I read, that the author thanks their editor. I thought being an editor must be a very cool job. I wanted desperately to have a job that involved reading all day long, and bringing into the world even more books that I loved. Of course, that's not exactly what being an editor is, but for me, it was never much of a question. My college jobs were in a library and a bookstore, and it was a no-brainer for what to do with my life career-wise.

However, if you're on the fence about whether or not publishing might be the right career for you, what should you consider?
  • For one thing, the pay isn't great. Therefore, you really do need to be passionate about it. We can all live on a budget but it's mentally a lot tougher if you don't actually like the work you do. Frequently in the work world, you can have money or like your job, but it's unusual to have both.
  • On the other hand, the work can be fulfilling. If you really love books, you can have an influence over what is published and how. You can help bring more YA/pet/cookbooks/[insert your favorite type of book here] into the world. 
  • On the negative side, in most departments such as editorial and sales, there is homework. Although you're not expected to stay at work to do it. You might be putting in 60 hours a week, but only 35 of that is in the office (and 10 of it is reading while riding to and from work on the subway).
  • On the plus side, you might get to meet celebrities! And hear gossip! And score free books!
Personally, when I was a kid I went through some rough years in elementary school being bullied and left out, and books were my friends. I have been known to say that books kept me sane. I didn't just love books as a kid, they were my friends. I myself think it's vitally important to get more good books out into the world to help other people who might also at times find themselves with mostly literary friends. And heck, I  just love to read so I might as well get paid for it. Although, much to the disappointment of my 12-year-old self, reading is a small part of the job. So you also have to be willing to put up with a lot of meetings, emailing, research, and paperwork, in order to get paid to read. Did I mention the free books?

If you want to work in publishing, I give advice and suggestions for how to get that first job in my new book, The Insider's Guide to a Career in Book Publishing,
available now.

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is now hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Books completed last week:
America's Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines by Gail Collins
Columbine by Dave Cullen

Books I am currently reading/listening to:
Byrd by Kim Church
The Subversive Copy Editor: Advice from Chicago (or, How to Negotiate Good Relationships with Your Writers, Your Colleagues, and Yourself) by Carol Fisher Saller
Getting the Love You Want : A Guide for Couples by Harville Hendrix

Up next:
The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan
The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout
Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

Friday, June 27, 2014

My book! You can buy my book!

Are you interested in getting a job in book publishing? Know anyone who is? A college student or recent grad? My new book, The Insider's Guide to a Career in Book Publishing has lots of tips and advice for how to break into the field and how to make yourself an excellent candidate for the job you want (and advice on figuring out what job that is.) And it is now available pretty much everywhere!

Thanks to IndieBound, you can buy it at pretty much any local independent bookstore that you want in the country. On my website, I have links directly to three stores: Park Road Books, here in Charlotte where I live and an excellent store; Parnassus Books in Nashville, my hometown, where I am good friends with the manager; and Astoria Bookshop, which did not exist during my years living in Astoria when I worked in NYC, but I am thrilled they're there now and want them to be successful. Also it's available at Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, and Amazon. Next I am going to work on getting it into some libraries, but in the meantime, here is where you can get it. It's out in paperback. The ebook is coming shortly. Thanks for your support!


Book Beginnings: The Other Typist

Book Beginnings on Friday is a meme hosted by Gilion at Rose City Reader. Anyone can participate; just share the opening sentence of your current read, making sure that you include the title and author so others know what you're reading.

The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell

"They said the typewriter would unsex us."

This is an odd first line because that's really not what the book is about. Yes, Ruth and Odalie are both typists and that's how they meet, but this first line implies something like a feminist tome or something that would be very much about sex (which yes, is int he book, but it's not central.)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

“Waiting On” Wednesday: When the World Was Young

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. This week's pre-publication “can't-wait-to-read” selection is:

When the World Was Young: A Novel by Elizabeth Gaffney

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Wally Baker is no ordinary girl. Living in her grandparents' Brooklyn Heights brownstone, she doesn't like dresses, needlepoint, or manners. Her love of "Wonder Woman" comics and ants makes her feel like a misfit--especially in the shadow of her dazzling but unstable mother, Stella.

Acclaimed author Elizabeth Gaffney's irresistible novel captures postwar Brooklyn through Wally's eyes, opening on V-J day, as she grows up with the rest of America. Reeling from her own unexpected wartime tragedy and navigating an increasingly fraught landscape, Wally is forced to confront painful truths about the world--its sorrows, its prejudices, its conflicts, its limitations. But Wally also finds hope and strength in the unlikeliest places.

With an unforgettable cast of characters, including the increasingly distant and distracted Stella; Loretta, the family's black maid and Wally's second mother; Ham, Loretta's son, who shares Wally's enthusiasm for ants and exploration; Rudy, Wally's father, a naval officer, away serving in the Pacific; and Mr. Niederman, the family's boarder, who never seems to answer Wally's questions--and who she suspects may have something to hide--Elizabeth Gaffney crafts an immersive, beautifully realized novel about the truths that divide and the love that keeps us together.

Publishing August 5, 2014 by Random House.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Book Review: My Accidental Jihad by Krista Bremer

Normally lyrical is a word that makes me run away screaming if I read it on a dust jacket, so luckily I didn't read it here, as I loved Ms. Bremer's writing, and I would describe it as lyrical.

A California surfer chick, Krista eventually decides to be an adult and she gets into grad school at UNC and relocates to Chapel Hill. While on her morning run, she meets Ismail who is kind and fun and interesting, and unlike any man she has ever dated. He's fifteen years older than her, from Lybia, and grew up heartbreakingly poor. Nevertheless, the odd couple kits it off. And then decisions are accelerated when Krista unexpectedly ends up pregnant, not long into their relationship. A "jihad" is a struggle, and any marriage that involves this much of a culture clash would naturally be a struggle. And like most of us, her life happened rather accidentally. She never planned to fall in love with a middle eastern man, a Muslim. But they're making it work.

I have never read such beautiful descriptions of love. I was so impressed by how she really captured the feeling of safety and trust that must go along with it, the acceptance and understanding despite the differences and misunderstandings. I envy her and I wanted to melt into her words.

The part of the book where they go to Lybia for several weeks to visit Ismail's family was the most memorable but also had the most different affect tonally. Despite being completely surrounded at all times, never alone, she also felt very lonely as she was unable to communicate, and due to the division of genders, Ismail was rarely able to translate for her. The culture clash was much more obvious here, as their roles completely reversed and she became the outsider, the one who didn't fit in.

In the end, given the vast differences that she and her husband make work, it makes most other marital disagreements pale in comparison. It is a hopeful book, as one can easily think, if they can make it, anyone can! And it truly attests to the power of love to make difficult things workable (not make them go away). I loved this thoughtful and powerful memoir.

I bought this book at my local independent bookstore, Park Road Books.

Teaser Tuesdays: My Accidental Jihad

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by Should Be Reading.

Grab your current read. Open to a random page. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Accidental Jihad by Krista Bremer p. 36

"My exhausted, racing mind paused its endless deliberations, and in his unwavering gaze I saw a love as vast as an ocean. I could see that it was big enough to contain my fears and regrets, big enough to embrace whatever choice I made."

Ms. Bremer writes about love in a masterful way I've only rarely encountered before--it's truly beautiful, powerful, and poetic.

Monday, June 23, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is now hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Books completed last week:
none! I am making progress on both America's Women, which is quite long, and The Subversive Copy Editor, which is quite intense.

Books I am currently reading/listening to:
America's Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines by Gail Collins
The Subversive Copy Editor: Advice from Chicago (or, How to Negotiate Good Relationships with Your Writers, Your Colleagues, and Yourself) by Carol Fisher Saller
Getting the Love You Want : A Guide for Couples by Harville Hendrix

Up next:
The Summer of Beer and Whiskey: How Brewers, Barkeeps, Rowdies, Immigrants, and a Wild Pennant Fight Made Baseball America's Game by Edward Achorn
The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani
Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell Jr.

Q&A with Carin Siegfried part 2: About the Writing

My book, The Insider's Guide to a Career in Book Publishing, comes out next month. While I am eagerly waiting for it (I'm sure you are too!), here is the rest of Q and A I did recently.

These questions come from my intern, Hannah, a very recent college graduate who wants to get into the book publishing field, so she is the perfect questioner. Last week I answered questions about my career in publishing, and now for questions about the writing process:

o   Was there a particular event that prompted you to write this book?
I wrote the blog posts that made up the bulk of the book several years ago, but I thought of putting them together for a very practical reason: my business has ebbs and flows and the slow times are a bit unpredictable. I needed a project to work on in between clients' projects. I also wanted to go through the entire self-publishing process, like a lot of my clients do, to experience it for myself.
o   Have you done any other writing prior to this book?
When I was a preteen I wrote what are now called fan-fiction novels based on The Babysitters Club series by Ann M. Martin (although I did not use the same characters, just the same format and the same setup of a club of babysitters). In high school I wrote a YA novel that I now realize was so long, it would have been the War and Peace of young adult had I pursued it. That was it for me! The majority of the writing I do is in emails and other work documents. 
o   Did this book come out of personal experiences or in-depth research?
Both. The sections on editorial and sales and buying and bookselling came from personal experience. However, when it came to departments I'd not only never worked in, but also only had marginal interaction with, such as marketing and production, I had to do a lot of research. I prefer not doing research, but I do hope those chapters are accurate as I tried hard to figure those jobs out! 
o   What did you edit out of this book?
Mostly snarky comments. The book reads like a conversation with me, it's not a stuffy and impersonal book, yet some of my more colorful comments were highlighted by my editor and proofreader as being perhaps alienating, so I toned them down. Apparently without tone of voice, something I think of as funny and sarcastic could easily come across as snotty or just insulting. And it's likely true that while Hemingway and Fitzgerald and friends are "drunk, misogynist asses" (a line directly deleted), so are plenty of authors getting published today so that's no barrier to entry (although perhaps it should be). (And yes, even though I self-published and I am an editor, I hired two editors, a copyeditor, and two proofreaders.)
o   How would you describe this book in three words?
Informative, fun, helpful.
 o   What was the hardest part of writing this book?
The above-mentioned research. It's not something I enjoy, but also some of these more obscure areas of publishing just aren't written about much so there wasn't a ton of information out there for me. And different publishing houses operate so differently, it was hard to know what information was universal and what was particular.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Book Beginnings: My Accidental Jihad

Book Beginnings on Friday is a meme hosted by Gilion at Rose City Reader. Anyone can participate; just share the opening sentence of your current read, making sure that you include the title and author so others know what you're reading.

My Accidental Jihad by Krista Bremer

"Back in 1994, after I stood up on a surfboard for the first time, I thought I might just have discovered my purpose in life."

In retrospect, this is kind of funny. While I'm sure a lot of surfers feel this way, it's hardly a "purpose." She would find her purpose, her family, a few years later, when she leaves California and surfing. But the balance that she learned while surfing will be crucial to the success of her culture-clash of a marriage.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Reading State by State

A few days ago I was procrastinating and instead of doing the editing I needed to do, I decided to tackle the details of one of my reading challenges for this year, the State by State Challenge. I knew I'd never finish this in one year. Two will take some doing, and three is more realistic (although I'd really love to do two.) I was disappointed with my showing so far (10 with nearly half the year finished, and those are mostly the easy states) so I wanted to see what options I had out there for the remaining 40 states. Luckily, Goodreads has the setting listed for some (but not even half) of my books. It's a starting point but a lot of books had me stumped, based solely on description and reviews.

Some states have oodles of options (Maine, Missouri, Washington) and some really just have one (Hawaii, for which I have listed Hawaii by Michener; Rhode Island, for which I have the Winner of the National Book Award by Jincy Willett). I was pleasantly surprised to find already on my TBR list, a book set in West Virginia, New Hampshire, and Utah, although only one each. What I need help with are the states for which I have nothing: Arkansas, Delaware, Nevada, and South Dakota. For a few states, there was nothing on my To Read list, but one that has been on my radar in the past, like Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner for Idaho and Attachments by Rainbow Rowell for Nebraska. Does anyone have any suggestions for me for these hard states? Others where I only have a book not on my TBR but looks kinda okay: New Mexico, North Dakota, and Oklahoma. Any suggestions?


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

“Waiting On” Wednesday: The Appetites of Girls

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. This week's pre-publication “can't-wait-to-read” selection is:

The Appetites of Girls by Pamela Moses

Synopsis from Goodreads:
For the audience that made Commencement a New York Times bestseller comes a novel about women making their way in the world.

Self-doubting Ruth is coddled by her immigrant mother, who uses food to soothe and control. Defiant Francesca believes her heavy frame shames her Park Avenue society mother and, to provoke her, consumes everything in sight. Lonely Opal longs to be included in her glamorous mother’s dinner dates—until a disturbing encounter forever changes her desires. Finally, Setsu, a promising violinist, staves off conflict with her jealous brother by allowing him to take the choicest morsels from her plate—and from her future. College brings the four young women together as suitemates, where their stories and appetites collide. Here they make a pact to maintain their friendships into adulthood, but each must first find strength and her own way in the world.

Publishing June 26, 2014 by Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Book review: A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra

After Ann Patchett's raving recommendation of this book at last year's WNBA Award presentation, I was curious, although it's not a book I'd normally pick up. Luckily it was also a Great Group Reads pick, so my WNBA book club read it.

And it was still not my cup of tea. I found it slow going with a lot of characters to keep track of in a place I was unfamiliar with (Chechnya) and with two time frames. At times I was tempted to put the book down, but I didn't particularly dislike it. And I was assured that it all comes together in the end and it does.

There's an 8-year-old girl, Havaa, who runs to the woods when her father is abducted by Russian soldiers who also burn down her house.  neighbor, Akhmed, finds Havaa and takes her to the one person he knows of outside their small town who might be able to keep Havaa safe: Sonja, a doctor. Akhmed also went to medical school (although he is a terrible doctor) but he starts to work alongside Sonja, amputating limbs, in order to gain her trust so she will take Havaa. Sonja is worried about her missing sister, Natasha, and thinks she might have come through Havaa and Akhmed's town at some point as a refugee.

While I didn't love the book, I'm glad I stuck with it and it does improve considerably when you finally see where everything was headed. It turns out I really didn't have to worry about the two time-lines as it's not crucial when they each are and they merge together at the end. I found a couple of scenes very funny, such as when Akhmed and Sonja discuss what they know of American politics, and I wished there were more of those. But it is hard to find humor in a war zone. It was a great discussion book as we all had questions and there were a lot of decisions we could debate and choices that were questionable. The characters were very well-drawn with even minor ones being fully developed. And I could visualize the setting, it was described so well (I am not a visual reader and rarely picture what I'm reading.) Overall, I liked it okay, but I wasn't blown away by it like other readers.

I bought this book at Barnes & Noble.

Teaser Tuesdays: A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by Should Be Reading.

Grab your current read. Open to a random page. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!


A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra p. 61

"'I've never been there before,' he said softly. In the decade and a  half since he'd left medical school, he'd forgotten just how wide the world stretched beyond his village, just how provincial and unremarkable his little life was when compared with nearly anything."

Even though Akhmed is educated and this is set in 2004, he's never even been to the closest city to his village. It shows how war (this is in Chechnya) can send a country back almost to another century.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Book Review: Blood Done Sign My Name: A True Story by Timothy B. Tyson, read by Robertson Dean


In 1970, 10-year-old Tim Tyson was told by a neighborhood friend, "Daddy and Roger and 'em shot 'em a nigger." Civil Rights had come late to the small town of Oxford, North Carolina, north of Durham. And when 23-year-old African-American Henry Marrow supposedly said something unsavory at a store to the daughter-in-law of the owner, Robert Teel, Teel and his sons killed him (after beating him of course.) And they got off, despite multiple witnesses and long criminal records. The injustice inflamed the town, and riots started the night of the murder.

For a young white boy, the son of a liberal local minister, the events of that year were earth-shattering. In fact, Tyson's family moved to Wilmington shortly afterward to get away from the racism. But Oxford proved a magnet for Tyson, drawing him back every summer in school, and later as a history student on a quest for the truth. Part memoir, part history, all truth, Blood Done Sign My Name is a harrowing but very personal tale of the racism pervasive throughout the South and its aftermath. The audio book was well done. As usual, I wished it mentioned dates more (a problem I often have with audiobooks that I do not have in print, I think it's just a quirk of how I process information.) And partly that was because I was having a little trouble reconciling how late this happened, as it sounded like an incident from a decade or two earlier. The deep resonating voice of the narrator could have been a tad more Southern, but I was glad they didn't go the other way and choose someone with a real corn-pone accent. He was easy to listen to and it was easy to tell when people were talking in dialogue.

I bought this book from Audible.com.

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is now hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Books completed last week:
The Good House by Ann Leary
Blood Done Sign My Name: A True Story by Timothy B. Tyson (audio)

Books I am currently reading/listening to:
The Subversive Copy Editor: Advice from Chicago (or, How to Negotiate Good Relationships with Your Writers, Your Colleagues, and Yourself) by Carol Fisher Saller
Getting the Love You Want : A Guide for Couples by Harville Hendrix

Up next:
America's Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines by Gail Collins
Bootstrapper: From Broke to Badass on a Northern Michigan Farm by Mardi Jo Link
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

I am the new President of the Women's National Book Association!

Last weekend I was in Detroit for the annual national board meeting of the Women's National Book Association and at the end of the meeting on Monday, I was named as the new national president!

I am both excited and a little apprehensive about this new role.

I first joined the WNBA back in 1998 when I worked at Ingram Book Group, mostly for their summer book club. But when I moved to New York, I transferred my membership as they had amazing speakers and events. In neither chapter though, was I terribly involved. I was young and I am an introvert which means I don't jump at the chance to speak up or do anything publicly. But then I moved to Charlotte, NC. For the first several years I was here, I remained a long-distance member of the NYC chapter. But I became increasingly frustrated at my inability to attend their awesome events, and I also was frustrated that I was having trouble meeting book-minded people in town. I know my bookish people were here somewhere--I just didn't know where. It occurred to me that I could start a chapter here. And that would look good on my resume. I was a little nervous as I figured, as founder, I was likely to be elected president no matter how much I protested, but in the end I decided that wouldn't be the end of the world. And it wasn't. We founded the chapter in 2009. (And yes, I was elected the first president.)

When I went to my first national meeting, even though I started off a bit intimidated, by the end I had made new friends and I was excited and enthusiastic about WNBA both nationally and locally. Since then, I've only not attended the national meeting once and I missed it. Luckily for me, this gig is a six-year commitment, so it will be a while before I have the option of not attending again! (Two years as VP, two years as President, and two years as Past-President, which is an executive officer position.) I loved meeting all these cool and fascinating women across the industry and across the country (there are ten chapters.) I loved hearing about the fun and interesting events the other chapters do (and maybe adopting some of those ideas for ourselves!)

Now, as president, I am excited that we are planning for our 100th anniversary in 2017. It's a time to reflect on how far we've come--the organization was founded before women had the right to vote--and how far we have left to go--how many women CEOs are there in publishing? (As of last July, there were only two at major companies.) In the last few years I have read books like Lean In and When Everything Changed that address the women's movement from both a modern day and a historical perspective. They've made me think a lot about sexism I've experienced in the workplace and about opportunities for leadership that I've been reluctant at times to pursue. I love that we have an organization that offers a lot of leadership opportunities for women in this field, and also offers support, encouragement, and positive role models. I wish more women would join to experience this wonderful organization that allowed me to grow until I was comfortable with more responsibility, has provided invaluable networking and business opportunities, and through which I have met some of my best friends. I particularly hope that young women just getting into the industry or thinking about it will join, as there's no better time to start building your base of contacts and your leadership skills, than the present.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Book Review: The Goats by Brock Cole

You know how there are always a couple of kids at camp (or school) who just don't fit in? Well, the two kids in this book who fit that bill are subjected to a cruel prank that's a tradition at their camp: they are labelled "goats" and left naked out on an island in the middle of a lake. But these kids don't cry and moan and wait for the repercussions after the kids who abandoned them come back and torture them for the rest of the summer. Instead they escape.

I loved the message of this story where the two kids who are bullied, instead of taking the bullying, and instead of fighting back unrealistically, they take a third way and they get out of there. They call the girl's mother who, not understanding what exactly has happened, says she can't come to pick them up until the weekend (it's Parents' Weekend.) So they have several days to kill and they don't want to go back to camp. Instead, they find inner resourcefulness, and they each make a true friend.

This book was fantastic. Mr. Cole really got into these kids' heads. They felt very authentic. I liked how for a large part of the book, they didn't even have names, but when they really became important to each other, they did. And I like the message, about how kids don't have to tolerate bullying, but also the only option isn't acting completely out of character and fighting back. Often kids get a message from adults that if they don't like how things are going, they should do the complete opposite, which is never an easy thing to do, and isn't good, practical advice.

This review is a part of Kid Konnection, hosted by Booking Mama, a collection of children's book-related posts over the weekend.


I bought this book from Park Road Books, my local independent bookstore.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Book Beginnings: A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

Book Beginnings on Friday is a meme hosted by Gilion at Rose City Reader. Anyone can participate; just share the opening sentence of your current read, making sure that you include the title and author so others know what you're reading.

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra

"On the morning after the Feds burned down her house and took her father, Havaa woke from dreams of sea anemones."

Havaa is eight years old and a little precocious, but it's not unusual that little kids will fixate on something seemingly irrelevant when faced with catastrophes, like being orphaned and having her house burned down.

Book Review: Mennonite Meets Mr. Right: A Memoir of Faith, Hope, and Love by Rhoda Janzen

I loved Ms. Janzen's first memoir, Mennonite in a Little Black Dress. And so it was a no-brainer to pick up her second one. I was especially happy to see her find real love after her first disastrous marriage and how long it took for her to pick up the pieces of her life. And it was lovely to see that and she was funny as usual, but I was surprised by how religious the book was. I know, the word "Mennonite" in the title should have clued me in but the first book also had that word in the title and it wasn't really religious.

Rhoda meets Mitch, who is kind of her opposite. She's a college professor, and he's a burly guy who drives a truck and doesn't strike me as being much of a reader. Yet, they're perfect together in a yin-yang sort of way. He's crazy-supportive when she's diagnosed with breast cancer. They deal with moving in together, with his cranky elderly father who lives with them, and his teenage son, with humor and sense. And yet, he's a Pentecostal and Rhoda starts going to his church and starts getting her faith back. And while I'm glad for her if that's what makes her happy, it's not my favorite thing to read about.

Now, I think this may be my fault. Because I enjoyed her first book so much, I really didn't read the description for this book. And the word "faith" in the subtitle was the real clue. Luckily, the book is still terrifically written, wryly funny, and brutally honest like her first memoir. If you don't mind a little religion in your memoir, you will love this book.

I bought this book at my local independent bookstore, Park Road Books.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

“Waiting On” Wednesday: The Glass Kitchen

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. This week's pre-publication “can't-wait-to-read” selection is:

The Glass Kitchen by Linda Francis Lee

Synopsis from Goodreads:
With The Glass Kitchen, Linda Francis Lee has served up a novel that is about the courage it takes to follow your heart and be yourself.

A true recipe for life.Portia Cuthcart never intended to leave Texas. Her dream was to run the Glass Kitchen restaurant her grandmother built decades ago. But after a string of betrayals and the loss of her legacy, Portia is determined to start a new life with her sisters in Manhattan . . . and never cook again. But when she moves into a dilapidated brownstone on the Upper West Side, she meets twelve-year-old Ariel and her widowed father Gabriel, a man with his hands full trying to raise two daughters on his own. Soon, a promise made to her sisters forces Portia back into a world of magical food and swirling emotions, where she must confront everything she has been running from.

What seems so simple on the surface is anything but when long-held secrets are revealed, rivalries exposed, and the promise of new love stirs to life like chocolate mixing with cream. The Glass Kitchen is a delicious novel, a tempestuous story of a woman washed up on the shores of Manhattan who discovers that a kitchen—like an island—can be a refuge, if only she has the courage to give in to the pull of love, the power of forgiveness, and accept the complications of what it means to be family.

Publishing June 17, 2014 by St. Martin's Press.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Teaser Tuesdays: Mennonite Meets Mr. Right

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by Should Be Reading.

Grab your current read. Open to a random page. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!


Mennonite Meets Mr. Right: A Memoir of Faith, Hope, and Love by Rhoda Janzen

"Also, wasn't a padded panty significantly sadder than a padded bra? A padded panty seemed desperate and needy, whereas a padded bra was an expression of reasonable hyperbole, as when an acquaintance says, "How are you?" and you say, "Fantastic!"

Ms. Janzen is funny and really has a way with words. But this scene is inspired by her finding out she had breast cancer and worrying about losing her breasts, and then thinking about how she once wore a padded panty due to her super-flat butt and now she'll have to wear a fake breast.

Monday, June 9, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is now hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Books completed last week:
The Goats by Brock Cole

Books I am currently reading/listening to:
The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress by Ariel Lawhon
Blood Done Sign My Name: A True Story by Timothy B. Tyson (audio)
The Subversive Copy Editor: Advice from Chicago (or, How to Negotiate Good Relationships with Your Writers, Your Colleagues, and Yourself) by Carol Fisher Saller
Getting the Love You Want : A Guide for Couples by Harville Hendrix

Up next:
Sight Reading by Daphne Kalotay
After Visiting Friends: A Son's Story by Michael Hainey
Above All Things by Tanis Rideout

Q&A with Carin Siegfried part 1: My Career in Book Publishing

My book, The Insider's Guide to a Career in Book Publishing, comes out next month. While I am eagerly waiting for it (I'm sure you are too!), here is a Q and A I did recently.

These questions come from my intern, Hannah, a very recent college graduate who wants to get into the book publishing field, so she is the perfect questioner. We're starting off with questions about my own career and its trajectory:

o   What is the most important lesson you’ve learned throughout your career?
Think before I talk! (or email.) I am impatient and have been known to do stupid things like ask the VP of IT in a big meeting of two departments with 50+ people in attendance, why he kept lying to us about when a new program was going to be ready to be used (in my defense, he'd been saying it would be ready "next month" for over two years. And I was young.) And at a later job when I was very frustrated with a co-worker I had to work with a great deal, my frustrations came through although we mostly emailed. I decided not only to wait to respond to her, but I had to figure out a real way to be nicer. My eventual plan was to pretend that instead of emailing Ms. Incompetent, I was emailing my best friend who had just made this giant mistake/screwed up a huge order/neglected to do anything I had asked her to do all week. It completely changed my tone and our relationship improved (although her follow-through did not) and most importantly, my boss noticed.
o   Do you have any major career goals for the future?
In my interview at Baker & Taylor, I was asked the not-good interview question, "Where do you see yourself in five years?" I said, "Well, if you had asked me five years ago, I'd have said I was going to be in New York working in editing, for the rest of my career. Instead, I am in Charlotte, interviewing for a job in sales. A few years before that if you'd asked me, I'd not have had any idea what I'd be doing, but I would have been certain I'd never move to New York. One thing I've learned is that I don't know where my career is going next. All I know is that it will involve books." I got the job. My answer is the same today. If you'd asked me during that interview if I would ever own my own business, I'd have laughed at you. And yet, here I am! This industry is unpredictable and I've learned to be flexible. My major career goals are to continue to have a career that makes me happy and pays the bills.
o   What was the biggest risk you took in your career?
It might have been quitting my job in New York City and moving to Charlotte without a job, just an excellent contact in HR of Baker & Taylor, the second largest book wholesalers, and the knowledge that people with my background and skills in this industry aren't common in this area.
Or it might have been after I got laid off when I turned down a job offer from Ingram Book Group (which involved relocating and I own a condo and it was the bottom of the real-estate market) and instead opened my own business, something I always said I wasn't the least bit interested in doing. While I don't relish all of the jobs that come with owning your own business (HR and bill collecting!) I do greatly enjoy the benefits and it's been much more successful more quickly than I had hoped. That's mostly due to the power of networking. You never know when people might be a help to your business or career.
 o   Which phase of your life was the most influential in your career?
I definitely learned the most during my five years in New York working in editorial at St. Martin's Press. St. Martin's is a company know for dumping you in the deep end (meaning, you don't get a lot of guidance and will have a lot of responsibility right away) but that's what I wanted since I wasn't coming straight out of college. I learned a lot of what to do and what not to do from my boss. I'm glad I worked in a house where books weren't put on a pedestal and worshiped, instead we were encouraged to see them as products and this as a business. (Everyone who sticks around in this business comes to this realization eventually, It's just nice to have that band-aid ripped off right away as it always hurts less that way.) St. Martin's also isn't known for its big advances, so the big, high-profile books went to other houses. We had to think differently, and a little more creatively, to get more bang for our buck, which is also a good lesson to learn early.
Wow, these questions were hard! I haven't had to think that long and hard about my career past since my last job interview! In two weeks I will answer more questions from Hannah, about the writing of the book. Stay tuned!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Book Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Every summer Cadence goes to Beechwood Island (near Martha's Vineyard) with her family. It's a private island owned only by them. Her grandparents and her mother and her two sisters all own houses there. She loves spending the whole summer running wild, swimming, reading, and having fun with her cousins. Then something happens the summer she is fifteen. She and her mother don't go the summer she is sixteen. Now that she is seventeen they do return, and Cadence tries to figure out what happened two summers ago. Why is everything different and what did she have to do with it? But her memory is fuzzy and unreliable.

Did your family have a summer vacation tradition? Did you see cousins in the summer and only the summer? My family did. We went to a lake in Vermont, Lake Rescue. I didn't have any cousins my own age like Cadence, but I idolized my older cousins Mary Jo and Jo Ann and I supervised my younger siblings and cousins. But we just rented a cabin for two weeks. We didn't own our own island. Our summer was not on this scale.

Ms. Lockhart does a masterful job of capturing the washed-out blazing summer light, the late nights out when it feels like time has stopped, those days when it felt like the summer would last forever, and those summer friendships that felt as important as anything in the whole world. She also is wonderful at creating flawed characters, particularly Cadence and her mother. And there's a captivating mystery about two summers ago that hovers in the background until it is shockingly and unforgettably revealed. A brilliant book in its subtlety and foreshadowing, that packs quite a punch. I read it all in one sitting. Perfect for teens this summer, but perfect for their parents too as it's not fluffy or insubstantial in the least.

This review is a part of Kid Konnection, hosted by Booking Mama, a collection of children's book-related posts over the weekend.

I bought this book at my local independent bookstore, Park Road Books.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Book Beginnings: Mennonite Meets Mr. Right

Book Beginnings on Friday is a meme hosted by Gilion at Rose City Reader. Anyone can participate; just share the opening sentence of your current read, making sure that you include the title and author so others know what you're reading.

Mennonite Meets Mr. Right: A Memoir of Faith, Hope, and Love by Rhoda Janzen


"Having divorced after a fifteen-year marriage, and having returned in a scattershot way to the dating scene, I naturally had limited faith in my judgment."

And boy, did she fall for a guy different from what she had in mind! But often different is just what we need.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

“Waiting On” Wednesday: The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. This week's pre-publication “can't-wait-to-read” selection is:

The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street by Susan Jane Gilman

Synopsis from Goodreads:
In 1913, little Malka Treynovsky flees Russia with her family. Bedazzled by tales of gold and movie stardom, she tricks them into buying tickets for America. Yet no sooner do they land on the squalid Lower East Side of Manhattan, than Malka is crippled and abandoned in the street.

Taken in by a tough-loving Italian ices peddler, she manages to survive through cunning and inventiveness. As she learns the secrets of his trade, she begins to shape her own destiny. She falls in love with a gorgeous, illiterate radical named Albert, and they set off across America in an ice cream truck. Slowly, she transforms herself into Lillian Dunkle, "The Ice Cream Queen" -- doyenne of an empire of ice cream franchises and a celebrated television personality.

Lillian's rise to fame and fortune spans seventy years and is inextricably linked to the course of American history itself, from Prohibition to the disco days of Studio 54. Yet Lillian Dunkle is nothing like the whimsical motherly persona she crafts for herself in the media. Conniving, profane, and irreverent, she is a supremely complex woman who prefers a good stiff drink to an ice cream cone. And when her past begins to catch up with her, everything she has spent her life building is at stake.

Publishing June 10, 2014 by Grand Central Publishing.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Book Review: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

I've been reading more light, fun books, and you might think, this book is neither of those things, but it is to me. Yes, it's most definitely a dark and occasionally even slightly scary book, but it's a rollicking action book with a crazy-great set-up and it doesn't have any Big Themes or Great Literature to get in the way of figuring out the crazy.

When Libby was a small child, her mother and two older sisters were brutally murdered in their home. Libby managed to escape, and later testified against her older brother who was convicted of the murders. Now, more than 20 years later, she's floundering in a mess of a life and when she's contacted by a group of mass-murder fans who are interested in her story, she both curious and broke (they're willing to pay her to speak). They open up a window of doubt she never considered, and despite her efforts to nail it closed, she finds she needs to figure out the truth. What really happened in 1985? Why do some of her memories not mesh with the official on-the-record history of that night? If she finally understand what happened, can she start to get over it and get on with her life?

It's like a combination of Cold Case and The First 24 Hours, and other addictive TV shows about true crimes in the past, what lead up to them, and how they were eventually solved. The book jumps back and forth between present-day and the events directing preceding the murders. The characters are compelling and a bit wacko, the bleak Midwestern landscape is almost a character itself, and I found the book nearly impossible to put down. In fact, when my husband wanted me to put it down and go to sleep with just 20 pages left to go, I flat-out refused and we got in a fight. That's how un-put-downable it was. (We made up.) Libby isn't a particularly likable character or even sympathetic despite her harrowing past, but she's not a bad person and I don't mind unlikable characters (after all I'm not becoming friends with her.) But Ms. Flynn has put together another great mind-twisting book. I guess I'm reading her books in reverse as now I really want to read her first one.

I bought this book at Barnes and Noble.

Teaser Tuesdays: Dark Places

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by Should Be Reading.

Grab your current read. Open to a random page. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn p. 62

"'You've got four kids--no on expects you to look like a daisy,' was Diane's response. But she wanted to look like a daisy every now and then."

Poor Patty had gotten pregnant (and then married) the wrong man and everything in her life went to crap after that. She's actually much younger than I am but trying to support four kids on a failing farm with no husband (and no child support) has made her old before her time. I don't blame her for wanting to look pretty every once in a while.

Monday, June 2, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is now hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Books completed last week:
The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell

Books I am currently reading/listening to:
The Goats by Brock Cole
Blood Done Sign My Name: A True Story by Timothy B. Tyson (audio)
Getting the Love You Want : A Guide for Couples by Harville Hendrix
The Subversive Copy Editor: Advice from Chicago (or, How to Negotiate Good Relationships with Your Writers, Your Colleagues, and Yourself) by Carol Fisher Saller

Up next:
The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer
The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani
The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup: My Encounters With Extraordinary People by Susan Orlean