Monday, October 02, 2006

Nadine's Website Promo Blitz Week - Day 2

Thanks to all of you who logged on to my website yesterday and sent me your guesses. I'm hoping you found the link to the Arab American Institute to be, well, fun and educational (did you know so many Arab Americans were into politics, entertainment and activistm? I didn't...)

And the answer to yesterday's daily question is... Demi Moore.

That's right - Selma Hayek is of mixed Mexican and Lebanese origin, Marisa Tomei is Lebanese, while Shannon Elizabeth is of Syrian, Lebanese, French, English, and Cherokee descent. Demi Moore is half Greek. Well done to those of you who guessed right... and there weren't many! Marisa Tomei was the no.1 answer.

Congratulations to Jennifer Collins and Dona Sarkar for winning the draw!!! They'll both be getting mini-paintings (one oil on canvas, one set of matching textured acrylic prints) along with autographed copies of Salsa Goddess.

Onto our author interview of the day...

Wendy French

One of the things I love best about crossing the 'pubbed' threshold is that I get to look back and snicker at my old, delusional, not to mention naïve unpubbed self. Of course, that may have more to do with the fact that I was trying to market the only manuscript I'd ever written and not something that was the product of years of honing my craft, acquiring market savvy, or learning the rules of publication: that there are in fact no rules.

What does this have to do with today's featured author? She's a Canadian (now living in Portland) who likes to set her novels in Canadian cities and pepper them with Canadian references... and some industry folks in their infinite wisdom, though impressed with her work, wondered if perhaps she could, you know, keep the witty banter and sharp observations but perhaps change the setting... to something more American.

Funny, I have a few rejection letters in my own filing cabinets saying something along those lines.

Now I don't know about you, but I like reading about other places, places I may not have been to and discovering them via literature. I also like reading about places I have been to and relishing sweet memories of those settings if only to say: Hey - I've been there!

Luckily for Wendy and her readers, an editor at Forge Books got this, bought her debut novel, sMothering, about a girl who has to contend with her mother moving in with her and the hilarity that ensues. Wendy's latest, After the Rice, deals with an issue we've been hearing lots about lately (one that I've also ranted about) - the pressure on a young, successful 'perfect' married couple to have children. It's a brave book that pokes a finger in gaping hole of our society's current (misguided?) obsession with fertility. Oh, and as if After the Rice weren't controversial enough, it's also set in Victoria, BC.

1. What inspires you to write?

I'm one of those annoying people who always wanted to write. As a little kid, I always wanted to find my own book in a library someday - it seemed terribly exotic. Now that I'm finishing up the fourth book, my inspiration comes from readers much of the time. It helps me write when I receive e-mails from people anxious for the next book.

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

My writing routine is to write when I feel like it. Take that! No, really, I have a day job, so that limits me to evenings and weekends, and I've never been one to force the writing. I produce light, hopefully humorous stuff (my goal is three out-loud laughs for the reader per book), so it's important that I be in the right frame of mind to work on it. If things aren't clicking, I go for a walk, or see a movie to distract myself for a bit, then I can usually get back into writing upon my return. This seems more effective than sitting at my desk, pounding staples into my forehead as penance.

3. Are you a plotter or a pantster?

A pantster? Does that require a belt, or maybe a sash? I'm not a plotter, though I probably should be. I prefer to just start writing and not restrict myself. I really like being surprised by what happens along the way, and I can always go back and make changes when I'm finished a draft.

4. How do you manage to balance writing and the day job?

I don't really know. I've just always had to do it. Lame answer, but there you have it!

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

About a year to a year and a half. The one I'm finishing right now has taken quite a bit longer than I'd like, due to upheavals in the personal life, but I guess that's the way things go sometimes.

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

This isn't so much a myth as a misconception, but I can't even tell you how many people have told me they want to write a book. Almost all of the time they mean that they would like to HAVE WRITTEN a book. Until you've done it, you can't appreciate the isolation of physically doing it, or the uncertainty of wondering whether anyone will ever publish it. My first book is stashed in a drawer, over 400 pages of "learning experience" that will never be published, but when I finished it, I moved on to the next one. Writing is fueled by a unique combination of optimism and delusion.

7. How do you deal with writer's block?

Beyond the brief walk or movie pause in writing, I don't think I've dealt with writer's block. I do little superstitious things, like whenever I start a newchapter, I type the word "when", because it seems like such a good starting point. I end up deleting it almost every time, but at least I'm not looking at a blank page right off the bat.

8. How receptive have you found American readership towards your choice of

Two out of three books have been set in the States, and the most recent was set in Victoria, BC. So far, so good on reactions to setting from both sides of the border.

9. Who are some of your favorite authors?

This will be pretty random, but I Like Amy Tan, David Sedaris, Carol Shields, Joe Meno, Patty Friedmann, Jack Hodgins. . .

10. What are you reading at the moment?

I am one of the lucky few who are reading an advance copy of YOUR book, Nadine. That's right, I'm reading Fashionably Late. (ha ha! Thanks Wendy!)

11. What advice would you give to budding authors?

If you really want it, don't give up. It took me 5 years, 3 novels and 137 rejections to get a book deal, but it happened. I'd also recommend Writer's Market as a resource. It was like a bible for me when it came to how to formatting a manuscript, writing a query letter, knowing who to approach, etc.

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

They can expect a new novel, titled "Full of It" in 2007. Beyond that is top secret (okay, I don't actually know what they should expect beyond that. . .)

Thank you, Wendy, for the great interview, not to mention, giving away autographed copies of one of each of your books! That’s right folks – we’ll be giving away three books today, sMothering, Going Coastal, and After the Rice. And the surprise gift of the day? Mini coco taxis! (Don’t know what these are? Check out the ‘Cuba Si!’’ page on my website)

Now for our educational question of the day:

How many Americans have Arab ancestry?
a) 50,000
b) 750,000
c) 3,000,000
d) 11,000,000

Don’t forget – you can find the answer by browsing this site (this time the answer is pulled directly from the site, so no tricks!) . Good luck


Dona Sarkar-Mishra said...

Woo hoo! I've never won anything before! Yay!

Nadine Dajani said...

Ha ha! I wish I could post a picture of your prize but I'm having issue with posting pics...


Shannon McKelden said...

Great interview, Wendy! I'd love to meet you a fellow Tor Sister!


Kelli Estes said...

Like you, Nadine, I love reading about "different" settings; places I've never been or places that I have been. When I read that Wendy's book is set in Victoria, B.C., it immediately went on my TBR list. I love Victoria! I even spent my 30th birthday there!

Anonymous said...

Marisa Tomei is 100% Italian.

Nadine Dajani said...


Then these guys must have it wrong:

...and these guys:

... and those:

Plus the Montreal Gazette reported about this back in 1992 when Marisa won her Academy Award, not to mention 'Tomei' is a known Lebanese name.