Sunday, October 01, 2006

Nadine's Website Promo Blitz Week - Day 1

Finally!!! It's here! The website I have been spending every moment of my spare time working on is now up and running! Yippeee!

In honor of this momentous event, I've been busy busy busy putting together a star-studded lineup of authors who will share with us their thoughts on life, fashion, and the writing process (mainly the writing process) over the next week. AND, every day of Website Promo Blitz Week I'll be giving away a signed copy of the author's latest release AND a surprise gift that's in some way related to my novel, Fashionably Late.

Just in case you think I'm kidding, here's our author lineup:

Monday - JoAnn Hornak, author of Adventures of a Salsa Goddess
Tuesday - Wendy French, author of After the Rice
Wednesday - Cathy Yardley, author of Will Write for Shoes: How to Write a Chick Lit Novel
Thursday - Shannon McKelden, author of the upcoming Venus Envy
And, last but certainly not least... the fabulous Jane Green!!!

Them's the rules: There will be one or more prizes up for grabs every day over the next five days. Winner gets a copy of the featured author's book as well as one of the prizes seen in the picture above. To be eligible for the draw, you have to correctly answer the Daily Question which I will post at the end of the interview. The questions have been designed to be fun and educational (do I sound like a PBS announcer yet??!). No seriously, seeing as the main character in Fashionably Late is a Lebanese North American, I thought it would be fun (and yes, educational) to have a contest designed around this theme. If nothing else, you will come away from this experience with some quirky trivia you can impress friends and colleagues with at your next cocktail party. All the answers are very easily googleable, and, as though that weren't enough, I will tell you exactly which site you can go to to find them. You may have to do five minutes worth of digging when you get there, but it'll be (say it with me now) fun and educational, I promise. You enter the draw by going to the
In Touch page on my website and leaving me a message with your answer (and anything else you feel like communicating to me - I'm open). You have one day (ie until the next post goes up early the following morning) to leave me your comment. I'll anounce the winners of the previous draw at around lunchtime everyday. Ery'tin Ay'ry? Good.

Now, without further ado, our first featured author of the week, JoAnn Hornak.

First, the totally delicious cover of JoAnn's debut novel caught my eye (tall, dark & handsome, not to mention light-on-his-feet dude dipping a blonde in a sparkly pink dress). A salsa aficionado myself (caught the bug on my first trip to Cuba), the title sang to me: Adventures of a Salsa Goddess. I picked up the book, dove into the opening paragraph, and didn't come back up for air until my legs started to go numb from standing in the Borders aisle for too long. JoAnn's witty and well-paced novel would sit on the edge of my writing desk and inspire me to keep on writing on those days when I found myself wondering if my life wouldn't be better fulfilled with a full bag of BBQ Lays, my couch, and the full set of Sex and the City DVDs.

A teaser, if you will:

They say a never-married woman over forty has a better chance of winning a million-dollar lottery than getting married. Samantha Jacobs plans to beat the odds...

This New Year's Eve, Samantha Jacobs is finally getting married. Everything
for her fabulous wedding has already been arranged - except for one teensy
detail. She still has to get herself a groom. It's all part of her assignment
for Tres Chic magazine, inspired by her boss's determination to publish
a story proving those nasty statistics wrong. So Samantha is sent to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, statistically the worst city in the world in which to snag
a husband - to find herself someone smart, successful, and hunky.

Now this gorgeous 41-year-old Cinderella has just one summer to meet the man of her dreams and fall madly in love. That's fine with her, as long as it isn't with her too young, too poor, too sexy new salsa teacher. Even if he does have all the right moves...

So why did this novel, amongst many set against the magazine publishing world and dealing with marriage angst grab me so much? Besides the quality of the writing, a level of hilarity that had me rolling on the floor clutching my stomach, and hot Latin characters for which I am a huge sucker, it was when JoAnn began delving into the salsa scene in a random North American club that she really nailed it. It didn't matter that the book was set in Milwaukee, it could have been Cubanos in Montreal, or any city for that matter. Salsa has a peculiar kind of grip on some people, becoming a quasi-obsession, an obsession that brings you outside of yourself, makes you skilled at something most people would love to be able to do, infects you with romanticism and carries you to a world of where it's hot and sultry, where "the man is the frame and the woman the picture", if only for a couple of hours a week. And it's a world JoAnn knows very well, something that comes across strongly in her novel.

Though Salsa Goddess was penned a few years ago, it came to light this year that the 1980's Newsweek headline which became gospel to so many women (and perhaps nudged them into some less-than-ideal marriages?...) was in fact completely bogus. A marketing experiment gone horribly wrong. The statistic had misled women everywhere by drawing upon completely irrelevant assumptions (for example, that women would only marry men on average three years older than them, which meant that only a tiny sliver of bachelors out there were considered marriage material), and used a sample population that had an abnormally skewed men-to-women ratio.

Huh. Newsweek issued an apology. Too little, too late, I say. But I digress. Today the salsa goddess herself joins us to talk about writing, dance, and grinding wheat germ in Tanzania...

1. You have a background in law and a few years of globetrotting under your belt. What inspired you to write fiction?

In 1999 I took a one-year unpaid leave of absence from my job as an Assistant District Attorney to volunteer in Tanzania. (I volunteered through a great organization called Visions in Action. Volunteering in a developing country was something I'd wanted to do since college. I was getting burnt out with my job so the timing was right. Luckily, I brought my laptop with me and because there was so little to do at night - no TV, no shopping malls, movie theatres, etc., I started writing by keeping a detailed journal of my daily adventures in Africa. I sent excerpts from my journal to an e-mail list of about 50 people who started passing them on to other people. Soon I was overwhelmed with feedback about how funny my e-mails were and many people asking me if I'd ever thought about being a writer. By the end of the year, I was convinced it was something I needed to try. I went back to the D.A.'s office for one more year and then quit to try my hand at writing. I've never looked back.

2. Do you have a writing routine, if so, what is it?

For Adventures of a Salsa Goddess, I learned that what works for me is to write 1,000 words a day and I write 5 or 6 days a week. Sometimes that 1,000 words came quickly and other days it seemed to take forever. If I stopped at 800 words I would write 1,200 the next day. I was pretty disciplined about it.

3. How long does it take you to write a novel?

Adventures of a Salsa Goddess took a year. My second novel, which is much more complicated, is taking a lot longer. I am not a fast writer.

4. Are you a plotter, a pantster, or a little bit of both?

A little of both. I like to come up with an outline before I start writing but it is not very detailed - maybe a paragraph or two per chapter. I like to see where my imagination takes me while writing and I learn a lot about my characters as I write, not the other way around.

5. What has been the most rewarding aspect of publication for you?

Getting feedback from fellow salsa lovers like you Nadine! (aww, shucks...) It has been really been so rewarding to know that people enjoyed my book and felt they could relate to the salsa scenes. Also, I've been able to encourage many people to finally write that novel they've had stuck in their hearts and heads for years. I was one of those people who thought I could NEVER write a book.

6. What's the biggest myth about being a writer?

That it's glamorous. It's actually a lot of hard work and I've had to learn how to promote myself, something I'm not comfortable with.

7. What advice would you give to budding authors?

Believe in yourself and don't give up. Imagine the cover of your book and don't listen to the people who say you only have a one in a million chance of getting published. And, stick to your writing schedule, whatever that may be, especially on the days when you don't want to write. Get the first draft of your book down on paper and then revise, otherwise you may never get beyond the first chapter.

8. What can readers expect from you in the future?

My second novel is also a romance with a lot of humor but has several main characters, instead of one, and a serious theme running through it about not letting fear stop you from following your heart. And yes, there is some salsa dancing in it although not as much as Salsa Goddess. Also, I just took a wine immersion course in Napa Valley and am thinking of a mystery novel set in the wine world.

9. Who are some of the authors that inspired you when writing Salsa Goddess?

Definitely Jennifer Weiner and Helen Fielding. I especially loved Helen Fielding's spoof on the spy world, Olivia Joules and The Overactive Imagination.

10. In Salsa Goddess, Samantha's relationship with Javier is attacked by her mother and boss because they both view the young roofer-by-day/salsa-stud by night is not worthy of anything beyond a fling. Samantha herself thinks this at times. Do you think society conditions us, even in this day and age, to choose partners within our own social/financial spheres? Do you think this is universal, or something that could change?

I think this kind of social/economic snobbery exists in certain parts of the country. Luckily, in my own family, this couldn't be further than the truth. As for whether this needs to change, I believe that anytime someone limits who they will socialize with or have a romantic relationship with, they are only hurting themselves. There are a lot of very interesting, wonderful people out there who don't have blue blood or a trust fund.

12. How did your love of Latin dancing come about?

Right after I quit the District Attorney's office, a friend invited me to go Swing dancing. I was shocked to find 100 people there, about half men, half women, on a Tuesday night in Milwaukee. I started going every Tuesday until a few weeks later someone told me they were also taking Salsa lessons. I started salsa, instantly fell in love with it and gave up Swing dancing after a couple months.

13. Okay - you knew there would be a desert island question somewhere. Here it is: if you had to be stuck on a desert island with a laptop (one that magically never runs out of power), an iPod loaded with Latin music, or a younger, unmarried Antonio Banderas, which would you choose?

Antonio Banderas, por supuesto! A laptop could get very lonely and we could always hum our tunes as we salsa and tango on the beach under the moonlight and tell each other stories (okay, yes, a little unrealistic and sappy but what did you expect from a romance writer.)

JoAnn has very graciously donated TWO autographed copies of Adventures of a Salsa Goddess to be given away today. And the first set of surprise prizes going to the lucky winner of the draw is... authentic Cuban art!!! I'm giving away the painting of the Plaza de la Catedral as well the set of two mini prints. Both of these were purchased from the Calle Tacon market in Old Havana.

Now, to win one of today's two giveaways, you must correctly answer the following question (if you're stumped, you can find the answer by surfing this very educational - and sometimes surprising -

Which of the following actresses is NOT of Arab descent?

a. Shannon Elizabeth
b. Selma Hayek
c. Demi Moore
d. Marisa Tomei

I will be drawing two names amongst those who guess correctly and send me their answers via the In Touch page on my website. You have until the next time I sit at my computer to compose the next post, say 8 am Tuesday morning Cayman Islands (i.e. central) time. Good luck!


Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Nadine, congratulations on the new website and forthcoming book!

Nadine Dajani said...

Thanks Lauren ; )

Dona Sarkar-Mishra said...

I love your website...and the pictures of you are so glamourous!!!

Dude, where's the excerpt!!!!

Maureen McGowan said...

Congrats on your website launch Nadine! I LOVE it.