Wednesday, July 30, 2014

“Waiting On” Wednesday: Small Blessings

“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:

Small Blessings by Martha Woodroof

Goodreads synopsis:
Tom Putnam has resigned himself to a quiet and half-fulfilled life. An English professor in a sleepy college town, he spends his days browsing the Shakespeare shelves at the campus bookstore, managing the oddball faculty in his department and caring, alongside his formidable mother-in-law, for his wife Marjory, a fragile shut-in with unrelenting neuroses, a condition exacerbated by her discovery of Tom’s brief and misguided affair with a visiting poetess a decade earlier.

Then, one evening at the bookstore, Tom and Marjory meet Rose Callahan, the shop's charming new hire, and Marjory invites Rose to their home for dinner, out of the blue, her first social interaction since her breakdown. Tom wonders if it’s a sign that change is on the horizon, a feeling confirmed upon his return home, where he opens a letter from his former paramour, informing him he'd fathered a son who is heading Tom's way on a train. His mind races at the possibility of having a family after so many years of loneliness. And it becomes clear change is coming whether Tom’s ready or not.

A heartwarming story with a charmingly imperfect cast of characters to cheer for, Small Blessings's wonderfully optimistic heart that reminds us that sometimes, when it feels like life has veered irrevocably off track, the track shifts in ways we never can have imagined.

Publishing August 12, 2014 by St. Martin's Press.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Book review: Columbine by Dave Cullen

This wasn't a book I ran out to read. In fact I was, like a lot of people I'm guessing, simultaneously intrigued and repulsed by the topic: The mass shooting at Columbine High School in 1999. But I ran across it at a used bookstore (this is the perfect argument for used bookstores, as this was a book I'd try for less, but not pay full price for, since I was so iffy.) And I am so glad I did.

You might think the book would be maudlin or else clinical and dry (particular when you saw how long and well-researched it was.) But it was neither. It was riveting, comprehensive and most importantly, even-handed. I came away from the book not thinking either of the boys was a monster (although Eric Harris sure seems like a psychopath, and I mean that in the clinical, not colloquial meaning). I really feel for both their parents, especially the Klebolds. As Mr. Cullen's primary goal is to understand why this happened, if it could have been prevented, and if there were any outside causes, Klebold and Harris are his primary subjects. I wish he'd given us a little more about the victims though. Some of them were well-drawn but others were just a name.

Despite the size of this book, I just couldn't put it down. I read it nearly nonstop for three days. It is terrifying, but only in how easily this could happen anywhere. I was glad Mr. Cullen busted a couple of myths, the obvious one of the "trench-coat mafia" and the persistent one of Cassie, the "She said yes" girl who supposedly was killed after one of the boys asked her if she believed in God and she answered yes (that happened to a different girl who survived, not to Cassie.) Nothing can turn back the clock ont hat day, but by understanding how it happened, we have a chance to prevent it in the future. School shootings are just multiplying, not going away, and in order to fight something we must first understand it.

I bought this book at my local used bookstore.

Teaser Tuesdays: Columbine

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!

Columbine by Dave Cullen p. 62

"At 1:15, a second SWAT team charged the building from the senior lot, smashed a window in the teacher's lounge, and vaulted in. The officers quickly entered the adjacent cafeteria but found it nearly deserted."

The cafeteria, you might remember, was where Klebold and Harris had left bombs, thinking they'd do the majority of the damage. Luckily, none of the bombs they made went off.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Official Mentoring

As I mentioned in an earlier blog post about unofficial mentoring, my alma mater, Davidson College, started up an official mentoring program last year, and I was flattered to be asked to participate in the first year. I ended up with two mentees, due to there being more students than mentors. (I asked for the extra mentee, she wasn't foisted upon me.) And I have been very lucky with two bright, enthusiastic, and delightful young women, L. and M.

Unlike a lot of the other mentees, L. was a sophomore and M. was a junior. I was thrilled about this, as it meant we didn't have to jump right into job-hunting stuff, but instead could build our relationship more slowly and honestly, and also we could lay more groundwork. This last year we covered a gamut of topics ranging from how publishing works to sexism I've dealt with at work, to personal finance (L. opened her own credit card and joined Mint.com!), to what I would tell 22-year-old Carin. Each of them have had some issues with boys and with family, and we've worked through that stuff too. I do not believe that a mentoring relationship should only be about work, as I've seen colleague's personal lives derail their work lives more times than I can count, and have had my own personal problems bleed over into the workplace at times. How can you concentrate on work (including schoolwork) if your mother's just been diagnosed with cancer or your boyfriend has just dumped you? I believe a big reason that our young grads struggle so much with the transition from college to "the real world" is that we older adults forget how many transitions they really are dealing with. There's all that ugly real-life stuff from health issues to other people being jerk issues. There will be issues with friendships that don't work out, finances that don't add up, practical problems with apartments and cars, as well as the whole getting-a-job struggle. When we dump 22-year-olds into the real world, it's a very steep learning curve, no matter how prestigious their college was (in fact, the more prestigious, the worse. At a big state university a student is more likely to hold down a part-time job and live in an apartment instead of a dorm. And students at schools like Davidson are unused to failing. In fact, may never have failed at anything in their lives before. Luckily for me, I didn't have that problem!)

So we have also been discussing how and where they can take on more leadership roles. L. had a long debate about going on an abroad program this summer and also one in the fall semester, and how that will affect her resume later, with no job or internship this summer. I helped M. with prepping for her internship application and interview (nailed it!) and I hope she's enjoying it.

At the end of the summer when we were wrapping up the school year, I thought about the commitment I had made (I could have stopped being their mentor in the spring, like a lot of the people mentoring seniors, but I have decided to stick with them until they graduate.) And I was surprised to find how much I personally felt I had gotten out of these relationships. I realized how far I had come. I could see myself in them, and I can see myself now, and in fact I can see that they're a little bit impressed with me. And I need to give myself credit for all my own accomplishments. It's rare that we ever stand back and look at our careers and see where we've come and what we've done. I also got a renewed enthusiasm for my career and field. I don't love my job every day. I don't know anyone who does. But when I talk about why I got into it and what I do love about it for a few hours twice a month, it helps those positives stay at the forefront of my mind. And I enjoy giving advice! Particularly to people who actually will take it! I can't tell you how excited I was when L. showed me that credit card and told me how she'd gone to her bank over Thanksgiving break and sat down with them and applied. We of course discussed using credit smartly, and we discussed her credit score, her credit report, and what are good things (having a long history of credit) and bad things (not paying) that will affect it.

I feel like I have made a couple of dear friends, and I am so looking forward to seeing where they go in the next few years. I do have high expectations, as I know how much potential they have, but I will also be there to help when they stumble, as we all do. If you have an opportunity to be a mentor, I know it will take some time, but do it! I promise, you'll get much more out of it than you think.

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is now hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

I was in NYC all last week and I thought I'd read more. I read a New Yorker which is pretty much the equivalent of a book, but I was just too busy doing things and hanging out with fun people!

Books completed last week:
The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe

Books I am currently reading/listening to:
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

Up next:
Mrs. Hemingway by Naomi Wood
Here is Where: Discovering America's Great Forgotten History by Andrew Carroll
The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt

Friday, July 25, 2014

Book Beginnings: Columbine

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.

Columbine by Dave Cullen

"He told them he loved them."

This was the principal of Columbine High School who said it, to the students just a few days before the shooting. He was worried about kids drinking and driving or otherwise getting in trouble at prom, which was the Friday before. Dylan Klebold had a date, and Eric Harris did not.



Wednesday, July 23, 2014

“Waiting On” Wednesday: Driving with the Top Down

“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:

Driving with the Top Down by Beth Harbison

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Colleen Bradley is married with a teenage son, a modest business repurposing and reselling antiques, and longtime fear that she was not her husband’s first choice. When she decides to take a road trip down the east coast to check out antique auctions for her business, she also has a secret ulterior motive. Her one-woman mission for peace of mind is thrown slightly off course when sixteen year old Tamara becomes her co-pilot. The daughter of Colleen’s brother-in-law, Tamara is aware that when people see her as a screw-up, but she knows in her heart that she’s so much more. She just wishes her father could see it, too.

The already bumpy trip takes another unexpected turn when they stop at the diner that served as Colleen’s college hangout and run into her old friend, Bitty Nolan Camalier. Clearly distressed, Bitty gives them a story full of holes: angry with her husband, she took off on her own, only to have her car stolen. Both Colleen and Tamara sense that there’s more that Bitty isn’t sharing, but Colleen offers to give Bitty a ride to Florida.

So one becomes two becomes three as Colleen, Tamara, and Bitty make their way together down the coast. It’s a road trip fraught with tension as Tamara’s poor choices come back to haunt her and Bitty’s secrets reach a boiling point. With no one to turn to but each other, these three women might just discover that you can get lost in life but somehow, true friends provide a roadmap to finding what you’re really looking for.

Publishing August 5, 2014 by St. Martin's Press.

Book Review; The Subversive Copy Editor: Advice from Chicago (or, How to Negotiate Good Relationships with Your Writers, Your Colleagues, and Yourself) by Carol Fisher Saller

Many writers think when a content editor (development or line) is done with their manuscript, it’s ready to print! Not so fast. The next step is to get the manuscript to a copy editor. What does a copy editor do? Well, all the things your grandfather thinks an “editor” does: grammar, punctuation, spelling, fact-checking, consistency, trademark checking, reference confirming, and most importantly, style conforming. Confused yet?

If you want to know exactly what a copy editor does (and does not), and if you want some tips for how to work well with one, The Subversive Copy Editor: Advice from Chicago, is an excellent place to start. The author is the editor of The Chicago Manual of Style’s online Q&A. The Chicago Manual of Style is the bible for all style questions in the book publishing world. It answers all sorts of questions, such as whether or not to use the serial comma (yes), whether to put a comma before Jr. (no), and whether to capitalize job titles (no, unless it’s trademarked or the President).

For writers, the key chapters are the ones on “Working for the Reader” and “When Things Get Tough: The Difficult Author.” No one wants to be difficult, and if authors better understand where editors are is coming from, it’s a lot easier to take criticism, especially when well-intentioned. Carol Fisher Saller is also easy to take advice from because she is not a strict grammarian (she advises adhering to the style manual, except “when it’s not working for you.”) She likes to do things within reason and only if they make sense. She’s willing to work with an author’s own quirky style so long as it’s internally consistent, understandable, and not ugly. Her primary goal is to be sure the reader will understand what she is reading, without confusion or misdirection.

If you think you might want to be a copyeditor, or if you already work in some area of production, this book is a must read. Ms. Saller's advice is invaluable and, luckily, humorous.

If you don’t want to have a heated battle over comma placement, first remember you must know the rules before you can break the rules. And reading this book, one of the rulebooks for the rule keepers, is a good step in that direction.

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

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Teaser Tuesdays: America's Women

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!

America's Women: Four Hundred Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines by Gail Collins p. 97

"A refuge for prostitutes in New York required residents to rise at 5 A.M., go to sleep at 8:30 in the evening, and remain inside the asylum until their betters deemed them sufficiently reformed to venture outdoors. It was eventually closed for lack of clientele."

Gee, I wonder why? Joking aside, I love Ms. Collins because she does see the humor in these situations. And because she does not believe all feminists and reformers are automatically good. She sees the intolerance and the stridency that sometimes shoots them in the foot.

Book Review: America's Women: Four Hundred Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines by Gail Collins


Last year I read Gail Collin's follow-up book to this one: When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present. It was fabulous. So I knew I had to read the book covering the early years, especially as I had a friend who'd been raving about it for many years now (thanks Emily.) Feminism is heating up a little bit currently, thanks to books like Lean In and studies regarding the persistent lack of women CEOs and the lack of women in STEM jobs. But it's hard to understand the present unless we understand the past.

Ms. Collins goes back to the very beginning, to Virginia Dare and her mother. Who would be crazy or miserable enough to go on a months-long unpleasant sea voyage when she was pregnant? Ms. Collins doesn't just talk about the pioneers and firebrands, the Susan B. Anthonys and Eleanor Roosevelts (although they certainly are discussed) but also the everyday women who worked and sweated alongside husbands, who often didn't have much say in how their lives were turning out, and who fought so that we women today do have that privilege.

One of the coolest things about this book for me was that my ancestor, Hannah Dustan, was in it! She was a colonist captured by Indians in a raid immediately after giving birth, and after her infant was killed she was force-marched across several colonies to Canada. She escaped, scalped several of her captors, and walked all the way back home to Haverhill, Massachusetts. I love that I have such a badass as an ascendant. She has TWO statues to her, one in Haverhill and one in New Hampshire.

And then I have to share this bit of hilarity: "In 1891, the Library Journal published the first general discussion of women's place in library work. The author, Caroline Hewlins, estimated that women who worked as library assistants should expect to make $300 to $900 a year--about half what men made--and be able to write steadily for six or seven hours a day. They should know half a dozen languages, Hewlins said, "understand the relation of all arts and sciences to each other and must have... a minute acquaintance with geography, history, art and literature." Women who aspired to be head librarian should expect to work ten hours a day, she continued, but "those who are paid the highest salaries give up all their evenings" as well. She added, perhaps unnecessarily, that librarians and their assistants, "sometimes break down from overwork."" p. 244

This brilliant history was fun and fascinating as well as being informative and making me feel so much smarter. It's very accessible with great stories of interesting and passionate women we can admire and look up to (and some we can be grateful we don't have to deal with, like Carrie Nation.) It's an essential read for all women. After all, if we don't know our own history, how can we know how far we've come, and how far we have left to go?

I checked this book out of the library.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Typos, Damn Typos!

So over the last couple of weeks I've been working very hard on the ebook for The Insider's Guide to a Career in Book Publishing. It's amazing how changing the book into epub format really messes with formatting. All of a sudden, there were strange line breaks in the middle of a line, italics that had shifted over two letters, italics that disappeared, and we also were trying to get URLs to be active and those don't always work properly. While checking this all over, I caught a few typos!

Why hadn't I caught them before? Well, I caught an awful lot before! (As did my two proofreaders.) But there always seems to be one more, no matter how thorough you are. In fact, I've found two typos in On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder, which I'm rereading. This is a book that's published by HarperCollins and has been in print for eighty years. So it can happen to anyone!

One was the result of a small change I made at the last minute. I changed the order of items in a list, but I did not tell the designer to move the word "and" which then ended up at the end of the sentence. Oops.

But most of them are due to our brains trying to be overly helpful. It's well-documented that our minds fix things for us. I have read numerous articles about this phenomenon and I know there are some tricks for catching them (but those mostly work only for short works, not book-length manuscripts.) And I know they happen to everyone. But it still doesn't help. I just felt sick to my stomach.

The good news is these are now all fixed! So any books ordered now will have those typos corrected. I'm not promising that there aren't any typos at all (and if you catch any and let me know, I will fix them!) But I know there are fewer than there were. And I'll try to forgive myself and move on.

P.S. if any writer has every wondered if they really need to hire a proofreader before self-publishing a book, Yes, yes you most definitely do!

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is now hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Books completed last week:
Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection by Debora L. Spar
The Subversive Copy Editor: Advice from Chicago (or, How to Negotiate Good Relationships with Your Writers, Your Colleagues, and Yourself) by Carol Fisher Saller

Books I am currently reading/listening to:
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

Up next:
The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai
My Name Is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira
The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup: My Encounters With Extraordinary People by Susan Orlean

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Book review: Close to Famous by Joan Bauer

I picked up Close to Famous by Joan Bauer two years ago when I went to the awards dinner for the Judy Lopez Memorial Award in Los Angeles (given out by the L.A. chapter of the WNBA.)

Foster and her mother escape her mother's latest bad boyfriend, an Elvis-impersonator, leaving Memphis in the middle of the night. The next day they finally stop in a small town in West Virginia, and thanks to the nice people they meet, they decide to stay there for at least a while.

Foster meets Macon, who wants to be a documentary filmmaker. And a track star. And the local celebrity, Miss Charleena, a washed-up Hollywood actress. Foster wants to be a celebrity chef. In fact she wants to be the first teen with a show on the Food Network. Her cupcakes and muffins are quickly a hit in town, once she convinces the local cafe owner to sell them. She seems on her way. But Foster has a secret: she can't really read. She only passed sixth grade from compassion and frustration. Will her new friends be able to help her out?

Man, I would move to Culpepper, WV if I believed there was such a place. It's such a warm and inviting town, even the town's grumpier people. It's nice how Foster's reading problem isn't miraculous solved overnight, and most of the plot threads are tied up at the end, while still leaving plenty for our imagination to play with. Foster is a great kid, hardworking and kind and mostly honest (aside from the reading thing.) She has her problems (her father died in the Gulf War) and her mother's not the most stable (a backup singer) but she makes the best of most situations (aside from school.) it's a great story for tweens who think they're the only one with problems, the only one who doesn't fit in.

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 the abovementioned award dinner.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Book Beginnings: America's Women

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.

America's Women: Four Hundred Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines by Gail Collins

"Eleanor Dare must have been either extraordinarily adventurous or easily led."

After all, why else would she travel to the New World on the first ship of settlers, pregnant? Seems like an unpleasant trip in the best of times, and pregnancy is not usually the best of times. Shortly after landing she gave birth to Virginia Dare, the first baby born in America. sadly, no one knows what happened to the colonists on Roanoke Island.


Book review: The Fifth Witness by Michael Connelly

What can I say? Mr. Connelly writes predictably satisfying legal thrillers, especially if like me, you prefer the legal part of that genre. I really like these Lincoln Lawyer books starring Mickey Haller. He has started doing a lot of foreclosure defense work, given the economy (the only real growth area for lawyers in the downturn). One of his more annoying clients, who is up in arms about the legal shenanigans of her bank, is accused of murdering the banker she holds responsible for her troubles. Naturally Haller, whose specialty is criminal defense, takes on her case. Meanwhile he has hired the first-ever associate for "Michael Haller and Associates" and might be getting an office. Could it be that our Lincoln Lawyer is settling down?

I borrowed this book from my father. He bought it in Germany, I think based on the pricetag. It's the UK edition.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

“Waiting On” Wednesday: In the Kingdom of Ice

“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:

In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette by Hampton Sides

Goodreads synopsis:
In the late nineteenth century, people were obsessed by one of the last unmapped areas of the globe: the North Pole. No one knew what existed beyond the fortress of ice rimming the northern oceans, although theories abounded. The foremost cartographer in the world, a German named August Petermann, believed that warm currents sustained a verdant island at the top of the world. National glory would fall to whoever could plant his flag upon its shores.

James Gordon Bennett, the eccentric and stupendously wealthy owner of The New York Herald, had recently captured the world's attention by dispatching Stanley to Africa to find Dr. Livingstone. Now he was keen to re-create that sensation on an even more epic scale. So he funded an official U.S. naval expedition to reach the Pole, choosing as its captain a young officer named George Washington De Long, who had gained fame for a rescue operation off the coast of Greenland. De Long led a team of 32 men deep into uncharted Arctic waters, carrying the aspirations of a young country burning to become a world power. On July 8, 1879, the USS Jeannette set sail from San Francisco to cheering crowds in the grip of "Arctic Fever."

The ship sailed into uncharted seas, but soon was trapped in pack ice. Two years into the harrowing voyage, the hull was breached. Amid the rush of water and the shrieks of breaking wooden boards, the crew abandoned the ship. Less than an hour later, the Jeannette sank to the bottom,and the men found themselves marooned a thousand miles north of Siberia with only the barest supplies. Thus began their long march across the endless ice-a frozen hell in the most lonesome corner of the world. Facing everything from snow blindness and polar bears to ferocious storms and frosty labyrinths, the expedition battled madness and starvation as they desperately strove for survival.

With twists and turns worthy of a thriller, In The Kingdom of Ice is a spellbinding tale of heroism and determination in the most unforgiving territory on Earth.

Publishing August 5, 2014 by Doubleday.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Teaser Tuesdays: The Good House

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!

The Good House by Ann Leary p. 26

"I have no trouble falling asleep, especially after concluding an evening with a little wine, but I tend to awaken with a start at exactly three A.M. filled with dread and self-loathing. It's my nocturnal sojourn to my own little hell, where I'm visited by the cast of demons who delight in reminding me of my wretchedness, my lifelong wickedness."

Um the fact that she's an alcoholic who still drinks alone late at night might be one reason for the nighttime self-loathing. I'm just guessing.

Book Review: The Good House by Ann Leary

Hildy Good just got back from rehab at Hazleton. But she's not an alcoholic. She can't be, you see, because she's still the top realtor in the coastal town of Wendover, Mass. She just went because her silly daughters were worried.

It's fascinating to read another book with an unreliable narrator, but this one is in a different way. She's completely convinced herself, in the way addicts usually do, that she doesn't have a problem. So long as she only drinks at home. So long as she only drinks wine. So long as she doesn't drive. All of these rules she, of course, eventually breaks. But some of the more subtle clues about the real state of her addiction were even more interesting.

Along the way, Hildy competes for house listings, befriends new neighbor Rebecca, gets involved with local gossip, starts seeing an old boyfriend again, and things very slowly but eventually spiral out of control. At one point, although I was thoroughly enjoying the book, I was thinking it didn't have much plot. But I just didn't see the plot coming. By the end I could see there was a lot of plot, it just didn't feel like it at the time. It builds quietly until finally, Hildy can't control things anymore and some bad things happen and nearly happen.

The book was cunningly written by someone with either a great deal of experience with addiction or who did a lot of research. Its slow burn is by no means a failing--I loved how the book got into its groove and introduced you to everyone in the small town and gave a great feeling for small town New England life, before amping up the events. It's so well done, it's hard to see how it was done. The author isn't at all show-offy or "look at me" (like a good New Englander!) so there might not be many brilliant turns of phrase, but it's a wonderfully written, brutally honest, and carefully drawn book.

I bought this book at Barnes and Noble.

Monday, July 14, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is now hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Books completed last week:
Close to Famous by Joan Bauer
David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell

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

Up next:
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
Twenty Years at Hull-House by Jane Addams
Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection by Debora L. Spar

Find Your Own Mentor

A lot of businesses and colleges have official mentoring programs, and I have nothing against those (in fact, I participate in one at my alma mater!) But for the former, you need to first get employed at that business, and for the latter, you might have a lot of hoops to jump through and limited selection. How else can you find mentors? (Notice I used the plural? It's good to have multiple sources of advice.)

If there are any family friends who you've always thought seemed sharp and had good careers, ask if you can meet them for coffee. Sure, she might be your mom's best friend and so it might feel awkward at first, but trust me, she'll be flattered and any family friend ought to be plenty willing to put forth some time and effort to help you out.

You can also reach out to your school's alumni base outside of any formal program. Go on LinkedIn and do a multiple-term search with your college and the field you want to go into. Send them an introductory email explaining you're a student wanting to go into X and are connecting with alumni in the field. Then pursue any who either seem friendly (who reply to your initial email with anything, even if it's just a "Hi, happy to meet you" email) or who have worked in particular companies or fields you find fascinating and would like to know more about.

This really can work. I give a speech every fall at my alma mater (these talks are what inspired my new book, The Insider's Guide to a Career in Book Publishing), and after my last talk, one student, a freshman, emailed me to ask if I'd recommend some books for an aspiring editor. Well that's like asking me if I have a favorite ice cream or if I like breathing. Yes I can recommend books! I emailed back. She replied. We've now been emailing for close to a year. I've only met her in person once, but you can truly develop a relationship over email (think back to pen pals of yore). What we talk about mostly depends on what questions she asks and what kind of week I've been having. I do tell her about my work week a lot, even if I suspect that a discussion of billable hours is pretty boring for a 19-year-old (but one of many things that these eager young things need to learn about the real world is that large swaths of it are boring.) She's always sent me thoughtful responses and when I occasionally go more than a week between responses due to my workload, she's never given me a hard time.

Some questions she's asked me over the last many months:

  • Have you read any mystery/thrillers that have literary value as well as thriller value?
  • Do you ever use Goodreads in a professional capacity, like for networking purposes, or is it just for fun?
  • At the meeting you said that editing manuscripts is now something that editors are expected to do on their own time, so what does a typical day on the job look like for you (if there is a typical day!)?
  • Have you gained any new insight from playing the author rather than editor?  
She never asks so many questions at once that I feel like I'm answering a quiz, but the questions are good for keeping the conversation developing. So unofficially, I figure I'm now a mentor for her. All she had to do to get a mentor was to be brave enough to cold-email an alumni she heard speak at her college, and to ask a smart question. I truly now love our email exchanges and I look forward to seeing her name in my In Box. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Book Beginnings: The Good House

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 Good House by Ann Leary

"I can walk through a house once and know more about its occupants than a psychiatrist could after a year of sessions."

This is probably true of any professional realtor. I know I feel my house is a reflection of me.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Goodreads Giveaway for my book!


Check out the giveaway of my book, The Insider's Guide to a Career in Book Publishing. It ends Friday at midnight!


Goodreads Book Giveaway


The Insider's Guide to a Career in Book Publishing by Carin Siegfried

The Insider's Guide to a Career in Book Publishing

by Carin Siegfried


Giveaway ends July 11, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

“Waiting On” Wednesday: All I Love and Know

“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:

All I Love and Know by Judith Frank

Goodreads Synopsis:
With the storytelling power and emotional fidelity of Wally Lamb, this is a searing drama of a modern American family on the brink of dissolution, one that explores adoption, gay marriage, and love lost and found.

For years, Matthew Greene and Daniel Rosen have enjoyed a quiet domestic life together in Northampton, Massachusetts. Opposites in many ways, they have grown together and made their relationship work. But when they learn that Daniel's twin brother and sister-in-law have been killed in a bombing in Jerusalem, their lives are suddenly, utterly transformed.

In dealing with their families and the need to make a decision about who will raise the deceased couple's two children, both Matthew and Daniel are confronted with challenges that strike at the very heart of their relationship. What is Matthew's place in an extended family that does not completely accept him or the commitment he and Daniel have made? How do Daniel's questions about his identity as a Jewish man affect his life as a gay American? Tensions only intensify when they learn that the deceased parents wanted Matthew and Daniel to adopt the children-six year old Gal, and baby Noam.

The impact this instant new family has on Matthew, Daniel, and their relationship is subtle and heartbreaking, yet not without glimmers of hope. They must learn to reinvent and redefine their bond in profound, sometimes painful ways. What kind of parents can these two men really be? How does a family become strong enough to stay together and endure? And are there limits to honesty or commitment-or love?

Publishing July 15, 2014 by William Morrow.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Book Review: The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress by Ariel Lawhon


In 1930 in New York, Judge Crater disappeared. That mystery has never been solved, to this day. Ms. Lawhon has taken this historical disappearance and run with it, coming up with her theory about what happened that fateful day.

She tells the story from three points of view: the judge's wife, Stella; his maid, Maria; and his mistress, Ritzi. Each of them know part of the story. Eventually they all cross paths and each plays a crucial role in the events that led up to what happened, and the aftermath. Stella is suspected, Ritzi is a source, and Maria gives her only statement using a different name. Also, Maria's husband is the newly promoted detective (Judge Crater put in a good word for him, at Maria's request) who is investigating the disappearance. Stella who was fine with their middle-class life and not thrilled with her husband's grasping for the upper class, is suspected. Ritzi moved from the heartland to the big city to be discovered as an actress and instead has ended up working as a high-class prostitute for a mobster.

The book does a great job of recreating the era. The three women have distinct voices. The three perspectives come together beautifully. The crafting of the plot is masterful. It's interesting how for a long time you think you know what happened to the judge, and while you mostly do, you don't know the important details that come out in the end. I particularly liked how Ritzi's storyline ended. I think it's a fun thing to wrap up a longstanding disappearance in a novel. I enjoyed it very much!

I bought this book at Flyleaf Books, an independent bookstore in Chapel Hill, NC.

Teaser Tuesday: The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress


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!

The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress by Ariel Lawhon p. 29-30

"Waiting was an art Ritzi had mastered in the last three years. Men needed time to talk shop."

Ritzi is very good at her job as an escort/hooker. And she knows at times the best thing an escort can be is not there. As Charlie Sheen once said, you don't pay hookers to come over, you pay them to go away.

Monday, July 7, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is now hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Books completed last week:
The Fifth Witness by Michael Connelly
Byrd by Kim Church

Books I am currently reading/listening to:
Close to Famous by Joan Bauer
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 Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession by Allison Hoover Bartlett
A Brave Vessel: The True Tale of the Castaways Who Rescued Jamestown and Inspired Shakespeare's The Tempest by Hobson Woodward
Going Away Shoes by Jill McCorkle

Create Your Own Internship!

If you're in college, everyone and their mother has been telling you to get a summer internship. It's crucial. Vital. Without one you'll be asking "Would you like fries with that" for the rest of your adult life. (Not really, but that's how they make it sound.) In truth, internships are very important in today's job market, and therefore the competition for them is very high and it might be hard to find one in the field you want in the city where you are. A couple of very sharp young women have impressed me recently by being proactive and not settling for simply applying to the few opportunities which might not be applicable; instead they went out the created their own internships.

V. emailed me just over a year ago, asking if I knew of any internships in publishing in North Carolina, if I had any ins with those companies, or if I ever had thought about offering an internship myself. I scoffed at the third idea right away, and sadly replied no I didn't know of anything in this area and wishes her luck. And then I thought about it. Sure, I'd only had my business for a couple of years, and I certainly couldn't keep an intern busy full-time, but what if I shared an intern with my colleague Betsy? What if the intern was part-time? I jotted down a few ideas of tasks an intern could do for me. I'd recently heard a few reports on NPR about the rules for having an unpaid intern and I thought I could manage them. And most of all, I really, really liked how gutsy she'd been in asking if I ever had interns myself. Very few people take that extra step. Most of them only look at open spots and... that's it. So Betsy and I met with V. and we really liked her. She gave the impression of being eager, enthusiastic, and having a lot of gumption. We liked her and offered her the internship. That's right--and internship that hadn't even existed before she emailed.

That fall a freshman, E., emailed me to ask if I knew of any publishing internships back in her home state of Arkansas that she could look into. Nope, I sure didn't. I mentioned V. and that E. might want to contact some independent editors (we're everywhere) and see if she could arrange something like V. did. But E. went in a different direction. Over fall break, she went to her local independent bookstore and asked about jobs. They didn't have any for occasional part-timers, and so she asked about internships. They didn't normally do that but they'd think about it. When she got back to school, E. emailed me and we brainstormed ideas for what she could do for a bookstore in an internship. Social media was the logical angle, and right now E. is interning at that bookstore, doing a variety of things but mostly social media. She's created a Pinterest page for them, linked it up to their Twitter and Facebook pages, created a Hootsuite page for them to manage it, and she's posted a ton of content. Their website now has a dozen ways to link to posts including quite a few I've never heard of (IceRocket anyone? Propeller? What are these sites?) She's also going to be shelving, helping customers, all the usual things, but because she asked and got this internship, she'll be getting a lot more experience and skills than she would if she'd been hired as a bookseller.

Internships are a topic I cover in my new book, The Insider's Guide to a Career in Book Publishing, but I don't talk about how to make your own. But I think it's a great option for students who aren't in a major city, and I particularly like how it shows a lot of moxie. That's a trait often overlooked in the business world, but one I think can have a big influence on future success, and I know it impressed me.

You can buy The Insider's Guide to a Career in Book Publishing through all book retailers, and if you click through, there are links to the major ones. Internships are just one way to get skills and get your foot in the door.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Book Beginnings: The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress

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 Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress by Ariel Lawhon

"We begin in a bar."

The wife has an annual ritual where she goes to the bar where her husband was last seen, and has a whiskey (and one for her missing husband). Some years the detective joins her. The maid and the mistress are both long gone.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

“Waiting On” Wednesday: The House We Grew Up In

“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 House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Meet the Bird family. They live in a honey-colored house in a picture-perfect Cotswolds village, with rambling, unkempt gardens stretching beyond. Pragmatic Meg, dreamy Beth, and tow-headed twins Rory and Rhys all attend the village school and eat home-cooked meals together every night. Their father is a sweet gangly man named Colin, who still looks like a teenager with floppy hair and owlish, round-framed glasses. Their mother is a beautiful hippy named Lorelei, who exists entirely in the moment. And she makes every moment sparkle in her children's lives.

Then one Easter weekend, tragedy comes to call. The event is so devastating that, almost imperceptibly, it begins to tear the family apart. Years pass as the children become adults, find new relationships, and develop their own separate lives. Soon it seems as though they've never been a family at all. But then something happens that calls them back to the house they grew up in -- and to what really happened that Easter weekend so many years ago.

Told in gorgeous, insightful prose that delves deeply into the hearts and minds of its characters, The House We Grew Up In is the captivating story of one family's desire to restore long-forgotten peace and to unearth the many secrets hidden within the nooks and crannies of home.

Publishing August 12, 2014 by Atria Books.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Book Review: The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell

I don't seek out books with unreliable narrators as I tend to like things a little more straightforward, but every once in a while, especially when it's very well done, it's a treat. And that was the case with The Other Typist.

In the 1920s in New York, Rose, a plain but self-sufficient orphan, is a typist at a police precinct. She likes her job, takes pride in her skills, and enjoys helping to put away the bad guys. One day Odalie starts as another typist. Odalie is beautiful, glamorous, and takes a shine to Rose. They become fast friends and under Odalie's influence, Rose starts to go to speakeasies, moves out of her Brooklyn boarding house into Odalie's fancy hotel suite, and get involved with Odalie's fast crowd. Then things go terribly wrong.

This book took a lot of twisty turns, especially at the end. It was a very cool mystery with a few fascinating reveals that I could have never predicted (but which were well set up; once you knew the ending you could see where there had been some earlier clues.) In fact, it was tricky to figure out exactly what happened, but in an intriguing way, not a frustrating way, and it led to some very interesting and passionate debates in my book club. It was a perfect book for a book club for precisely that reason. It also was a favorite, and many people commented that it was their favorite book club selection this year, by far (I agreed.) I enjoyed it thoroughly, and was almost tempted to reread it, to see the set-up in action. It was a lot of fun.

I bought this book at Barnes & Noble.

Teaser Tuesdays: The Other Typist

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!


The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell p. 17

"There was some quality about the brooch that seemed to mirror the very essence of Odalie herself, as though it were in some way a portrait of her in miniature. In a flash, I had stooped and quickly returned to my desk with the brooch concealed tightly in my palm, the sharp edges of its setting digging into my flesh."

This brooch, while not pivotal, proves a very telling symbol in the book. Ruth probably shouldn't have picked it up, or at least not concealed it and instead returned it to Odalie.