I’m Not Gonna Lie, It’s Been Tough
I promised you I'd never wear a Facebook face in this newsletter. So I'll be honest--I've been struggling a bit. If the world hadn’t turned upside down back in March, I would be in Georgia right now. Or maybe Michigan—my tour dates hadn’t been set in stone before we learned it couldn’t happen. But we did know the places I’d be going, and I was psyched.
I know some authors don’t enjoy book tours, but getting out there, interacting with readers face-to-face, and visiting bookstores is kind of my jam. I’m doing a virtual tour instead, and it’s been fun, but aside from some weird advantages—like getting to wear jammie bottoms since they don’t show up on camera—it’s second best compared to seeing you all on the road.
And that loss doesn’t touch on the really hard part. Which is that I have no clue how The Second Mother is doing. Booksellers used to put my book in the window; Barnes & Noble had me on the “featured” table. With the loss of so much foot traffic, won’t my sales be down? And if so, what impact will that have on my career?
On an up note, the social media traffic has been phenomenal. Last month I wrote about Jackie Shephard and her team of Book Warriors. Book blogger/reviewers, bookstagrammers, and book influencers have posted the most beautiful photos of The Second Mother and seem to be truly enjoying it. (This adorable one is from @twodogsandabook.)
A book blogger wrote to thank me for writing what turned out to be one of her best reads of the year. To be thanked for doing something I love…well, as the old Mastercard campaign used to say…Priceless.
Some Fun Things Coming Up
Ask Us Anything
Remember my Newsletter Takeover with novelist and producer Nina Sadowsky? This Wednesday, Nina and I go Live on Facebook for an Ask Us Anything. As the name suggests, anything from our books, writing, getting published, staying published, book-to-film…heck, haircuts during the pandemic or how we keep from scaring ourselves..goes. It’s a virtual party—with prizes! Ask a Q for a chance to win a Writer’s Wish List or a Book Bundle of new and sneak peeks.
Author Jam with Dr. Shelley Plumb
One of the most insightful and heartfelt interviewers I’ve had the luck to meet airs my episode of her show tomorrow at 7 pm. Dr. Shelley Plumb asked why I write what I do, what happens when women face off with monsters, and how creativity rises.
Once I would’ve been in-studio in Florida, this time we recorded from my living room. I'll be hosting a Watch Party on FB Thursday afternoon! Tune in!
On an Island
The Second Mother is set on fictional Mercy Island in Maine, which is why I’m especially stoked to give an author talk from West Tisbury Library on another New England island, Martha’s Vineyard. How did I do the research to create an island setting? What surprised me most about the industry I explored fictionally, lobstering? And what is it like to move twelve miles out to sea? Join me virtually and find out!
Could You Write a Book With Someone Else? Do You Read Author Pairs?
I have a dear friend in this industry who writes sly looks at suburban betrayal…with a co-author, which I find amazing. I don’t think I could ever write with someone else. When editors suggest replacing one line of my self-anointed blistering prose, it takes me four days to recover. (Slight exaggeration).
In the Spotlight
Jenny Milchman: What was it like to write as a team?
Hope Bolinger: I usually don’t work well with other writers, but Alyssa and I just clicked. I honestly would write every book with her if I could.
Alyssa Roat: I usually fly by the seat of my pants while writing, and Hope likes to plot things out. It was very spontaneous for her and more organized for me, and it stretched us both in the best way.
JM: You both have industry experience. What was it like to jump (or climb?) to this side of the fence?
HB: Let me see if I can condense seven years. TLDR: I started writing in high school and learned quickly how hard it was to break into the industry.
I got unpaid internships at publishers, agencies, newspapers. I attended writers conferences to meet agents, pitched to agents, got rejected by agents, cried when I got rejected by agents, interned for the agent who rejected me, and ended up working with that agency years later. Five years and 800 or so bylines after I started, I managed to snag my first publishing deal.
AR: I went to college to study publishing. Right now, I’m a literary agent, the publicity manager at a publishing house, and a freelance writer and editor. After graduating high school in 2016, I threw myself into trying to make it in this highly competitive industry. It was extremely helpful knowing how all of this works from the agenting, editing, marketing, publicity side of things before coming at it as an author.
JM: Tell us about the theme of love and hate in Dear Hero.
HB: I had a friend who was on a lot of dating apps, and Alyssa and I had nemesis parody accounts of Twitter. So we thought, what if there was a dating app that paired a villain with a hero, for nemesis potential?
What I love about our hero and villain are that they don’t fit the typical molds. Cortex sucks at being a hero. V, our villain, has a soft spot for plushies and pet sharks. And you can’t help but fall in love with the sidekicks and henchfolks.
Everyone has a little bit of hero and villain inside of them, and labels are just that…often untrue masks that hide our potential.
AR: I remember starting with the idea of a villain and hero being pen pals after we were messing around with our parody twitter accounts @ClicheYAHero and @CasualYAVillain. It quickly morphed to a Tinder type of idea, but for finding a nemesis.
As I was writing our villain, I really wanted to explore what happens when society decides your category for you. Who are the heroes and villains in this world? Can we look beyond labels and stereotypes to see the person beneath?
JM: I love the use of messaging--it has a very now feel. Did you deliberately set out to write Not Just Another YA Novel?
HB: We noticed that chat fiction is becoming huge. Not only are books like Illuminae Files and Tweet Cute catching readers' attention, but chat-fiction apps like Hooked have millions of subscribers. Plus, I love dialogue. So we wanted to create a book through dialogue (texting, speech to text, and fight-scene onomatopoeias).
AR: We didn't necessarily set out to write something "unique." We wanted to blur the lines you usually see between hero and villain in superhero stories. What if being a hero or a villain was just a career? Hope has a playwriting background, and I've studied screenwriting, so writing something like this came naturally.
Hope to see you on the little screenThe silver lining to being out there virtually is that I can see you all without being pinned down by geography. From New York to California, Mexico to Canada, well, first of all, stay safe if you're out west, and second, if you’re reading this and would like to connect, I find it makes the tough parts—of which there have been a few so far with this release—a whole lot easier to bear.
Love from the Hills of Wedeskyull,