Category: Authors


Furiously Happy: A Night With Jenny Lawson

Posted 17 November, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Authors, Reviews

Furiously Happy: A Night With Jenny LawsonFuriously Happy by Jenny Lawson
Published by Pan Macmillan on September 24th 2015
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, General, Humor, Personal Memoirs
Pages: 256
Goodreads
three-half-stars

In Let's Pretend This Never Happened, Jenny Lawson regaled readers with uproarious stories of her bizarre childhood. In her new book, Furiously Happy, she explores her lifelong battle with mental illness. A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? That sounds like a terrible idea. And terrible ideas are what Jenny does best.As Jenny says: 'You can't experience pain without also experiencing the baffling and ridiculous moments of being fiercely, unapologetically, intensely and (above all) furiously happy.' It's a philosophy that has - quite literally - saved her life.Jenny's first book, Let's Pretend This Never Happened, was ostensibly about family, but deep down it was about celebrating your own weirdness. Furiously Happy is a book about mental illness, but under the surface it's about embracing joy in fantastic and outrageous ways. And who doesn't need a bit more of that?

So, once again, my sister and I had the opportunity to seek out Jenny Lawson and get signed books. This time however, we also got to hear her speak and read. We also encountered some of the weird counter-culture that Lawson seems to attract.

But let’s start with the book. Furiously Happy is not nearly as funny as Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, but I will venture to say that it is infinitely more important. The essays in the book on mental health were so raw, so real, and so incredibly honest it was almost painful to hear her read them in the auditorium. While not as painful to read them on my own – they did have a sense of heartache surrounding them, more so when you consider that one in four Americans is affected by mental illness and there is still such shame and stigma surrounding it.

Furiously Happy starts out strong, but then as the chapters roll on it begins to fizzle out. Interspersed in the book are essays having little or nothing to do with mental illness that feel a bit forced in an attempt at levity, which admittedly, perhaps Furiously Happy needs to be bearable at all, so painful and honest are the essays concerning Lawson’s mental health.

So then there was the question and answer session and the book signing. Lawson’s presentation on stage was engaging and wonderful. The fans she attracts are… devoted, to say the least. Not that it can be blamed on Lawson, but many of the questions weren’t questions at all — they were long personal stories that I can’t imagine much of the audience cared about. However Lawson responded to each anecdote with poise and charm. Despite her anxiety issues, she is a complete pro. A memorable part of the evening was when her husband Victor called and she decided to take the call on speakerphone. Why yes I did take video of it…

 


You may recall last time I had a book signed by Lawson I asked her to sign it as Stephen King. I cursed myself while waiting in line to get Furiously Happy signed that I failed to bring a Stephen King book with me for her to sign as herself. C’est la vie.

Me, Jenny Lawson, and a fabulous inscription.

Me, Jenny Lawson, and a fabulous inscription.

Overall the night was a success and while Furiously Happy does have its weaknesses, I definitely think that it’s important for the normalization of mental illness the way the world stands today.

Monika at A Lovely Bookshelf had a completely different take on things, however.

What about you, Reader? Do you enjoy Lawson’s blog? What’s your take?

April

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Threesome: Shirley Jackson’s Women

Posted 16 November, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Authors, books and publishing, Genres, Reviews

shirley jackson threesome

So I love me some Shirley Jackson, but it wasn’t until I recently finished A Bird’s Nest that I had perhaps the belated revelation that Shirley Jackson writes primarily about young women who are suffering from some sort of arrested development.

Consider Eleanor Vance, from Jackson’s classic The Haunting of Hill House. One of the first lines in the novel is:

“Eleanor Vance was thirty-two years old when she came to Hill House. The only person in the world she genuinely hated, now that her mother was dead, was her sister. She disliked her brother-in-law and her five-year-old niece, and she had no friends.”

If that’s not a description of someone who is emotionally stunted, I’m not sure what is. Eleanor is consistently unsure of herself and lacks self confidence in the worst of ways. While she is supposed to be thirty-two, her character often feels no older than sixteen or seventeen. Her self consciousness is exacerbated by the stresses of Hill House, makes her teeter even more off balance than she was before.

Looking at Eleanor next to the lively and confident Theodora, one has to stop and wonder what emotional juxtaposition that Jackson was going for. Does Theodora genuinely become irate and hostile towards Eleanor or is this completely happening in Eleanor’s perception?

Next we have both Merricat and Constance Blackwood, from We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Merricat is supposed to be eighteen years old, but her rhetoric and behavior make that incredibly hard to remember. It took several close readings before I realized that she wasn’t supposed to be a thirteen year old adolescent. While Constance does play a central mother figure in the novel, girl hasn’t left the house in six years. At the climax of the story instead of pushing forward and growing into themselves, we see both women retreat farther into themselves, continuing to stunt their emotional growth and we are left wondering how they can possibly survive.

Finally, we have Elizabeth Richmond, from The Bird’s Nest. Meant to be 23, Elizabeth is tormented by three other personalities of varying ages. This is a novel about dissociative identity disorder (not to be confused with schizophrenia, don’t cross Heather on this one). Interestingly, this book also has a mother figure that is less than motherly with Aunt Morgan. I find Aunt Morgan interesting the same way that I find Theodora interesting, she seems to care for Elizabeth, but at times she seems downright hostile. Is she? Ah, the wonder of unreliable narrators and partial information.

I’ve probably read The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle five or six times each, but this was my first go at A Bird’s Nest, and if you look at the publication date, you realize that Jackson pre-dates the modern tropes of multiple narrators and psychological fiction nearly twenty years before Sybil made it popular.

Anyway, Reader. What do you think of women in Shirley Jackson’s novels? Do her other novels conform to these patterns? What does it mean?

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Stephen King: A Primer

Posted 31 October, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Authors

Stephen Edwin King. Born in Portland, Maine on September 21, 1947. He and his wife Tabitha, own two residences in Maine and also owns property in Sarasota, Florida. May be considered by Floridians as a ‘snow bird’.

He is the undisputed master of horror, taking on the genre and breathing new life into it with his first novel Carrie in 1974. Less than a year later the veritable ‘Salem’s Lot was published. ‘Salem’s Lot is still hailed as a fantastic novel in the vampire sub-genre.

This Constant Reader first discovered Stephen King as a part of her father’s library with the novel Cujo. I was 11. I never looked back, my days with Nancy Drew and The Babysitter’s Club were over.

King has three distinct periods of his writing. His early career spans from Carrie in 1974 until The Dark Half in 1989. During the 1980’s King admittedly had a serious drug and alcohol problem until his friends and family staged an intervention, dumping evidence of his addiction in front of him. King agreed to seek help and has been sober since 1990. His early career is characterized by easily recognizable monsters such as Kurt Barlow in ‘Salem’s Lot, Pennywise in It, Randall Flagg in The Stand. Admittedly this is a vast oversimplification of King’s early works, but in general one can see the distinction.

The second period of King’s writing begins in 1990 with Needful Things, his first novel written in sobriety and ends with the vehicle accident that almost claimed his life in 1999. King’s ‘sobriety period’ is recognizable by a shift from outright ‘balls to the wall’ horror to something more subtle and closer to home. Rose Madder deals with domestic violence, though often overlooked by fans AND critics there were many individuals that came forward during a Reddit AMA that King did recently praising the strength and realness of the characters and stating that the novel was instrumental in helping abused readers realize they could get out of their situation. The Green Mile, which was originally published in serial format (more on writing gimmicks and innovations later on) deals with capital punishment and the reality that the American justice system sometimes executes innocent men and women. Most of King’s novels in this ‘sober period’ retain an element of supernatural and horror, but the monster is quieter and closer to home than most of us feel comfortable with.

In 1999, King was walking along the side of Route 5 in Lovell, Maine when he was struck from behind by a minivan. The driver was distracted by an unrestrained dog in the back and was not drunk or otherwise incapacitated. His injuries were severe, including a punctured lung, shattered hip and leg. King purchased the wreckage of the minivan to avoid parts of it from showing up on eBay. He also expressed a desire to smash up the van with a sledgehammer. It was crushed in a junkyard before he had the opportunity to do so.

By 2000 King was back to work on his memoir On Writing, despite being able to sit for periods of only about forty minutes without pain. On Writing is an invaluable source to burgeoning writers and Stephen King fangirls alike. From 2000 to present King’s work (for the most part) have become even more subdued. Though books like Cell hearken back to the gore and horror of his early works, there’s something different, more nuanced about it. Duma Key, Lisey’s Story, and Under the Dome, are all still steeped in the supernatural but also very character-centric.

For this Constant Reader, 11/22/63 (2011) was a return to King’s heyday. Combining time travel with specific rules and deep personal connections, King crafts a story of a man who goes back in time to stop the assassination of JFK. It sounds hokey, but in the hands of the master it’s a compelling, deeply moving tale. His most recent novel Doctor Sleep, the much anticipated sequel to The Shining is a brilliant blend of the old and new King warm, yet scary, and yes, I just took a 12 hour car trip. and eyed every single RV with suspicion.

Finally there is King’s magnum opus. The Dark Tower it spans all of his works and worlds. Beginning with The Gunslinger in 1982, Roland and his ka-tet, Eddie, Susannah, and Jake travel mid-land through eight books in search of the Tower. It’s a brilliant blend of fantasy, spaghetti westerns, horror, and a touch of science fiction. Space between the worlds are thin. It’s a long strange ride that’s so satisfying, after finishing the last novel The Dark Tower (2004) I immediately wanted to start again with The Gunslinger. Theses will be written on this work. I’ll spare you, for now.

Stephen King keeps himself relevant in kind of the same way that Cher and Madonna do – except that it seems he actually has it easier. But that’s what I like about Stephen King, he keeps re-inventing himself and his works and has delved into almost every ‘literary’ medium conceivable, even though he doesn’t have to. The Green Mile released as six serial novellas in 1996 are an example of the ways King is always trying to get to new readers. He’s always been interested in film and often cameos in the movie adaptations of his books. He collaborated with John Mellencamp for the musical Ghost Brothers of Darkland County which is currently touring! He released one of the original Kindle Singles with a delightful little piece entitled ‘UR’ when the Kindle 2 was launched in 2009.  He had a small guest role on Sons of Anarchy last season.

The best thing about Stephen King? He seems like a pretty awesome person. He does a lot of grassroots charity things like giving to local libraries, using his fame and money to do good things within his own community. He chooses to use his voice in a constructive manner to promote literacy. His essay Guns is easily one of the most rational and poignant pieces of commentary we have about the U.S. gun debate. Also, he loves to write. The fact that he writes because its his passion is inspiring to me everyday. How are we so lucky to have Stephen King as a national treasure?

Tabitha. It’s a great love story. From her pulling the first pages of Carrie out of the trash and encouraging him to keep going, to her threatening to leave and take the kids if he didn’t sober up when he was a millionaire it seems like she’s always been there by his side. So, thank you Tabitha King. Now I must go and rectify a problem that I am ashamed has gone on too long. I must read a Tabitha King novel.

Trivia
Loves the Red Sox, but always takes a book to the games.
Was in a rock band with Amy Tan and other literary giants. The Rock Bottom Remainders
Everything about Richard Bachmann.

May I also suggest you take a look at the piece from the New York Times entitled King’s Family Business?

Happy Halloween, Reader!

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Loving People Who Love Jesus: Nadia Bolz-Weber and Me

Posted 14 September, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Authors, musings

accidental saints collage

So I was fortunate enough to get to spend an evening with Nadia Bolz-Weber, and by ‘spend an evening’ I mean going to an already scheduled book reading that she was having here in Decatur. Let me tell you, this lady loves Jesus. Real hard. Most of the time this would be a turn-off for a gal like me. Don’t get me wrong. I make exceptions for people that I know in real life, but public figures who love Jesus usually get a mark in the ‘con’ side of a pro/con list I keep in my head about people.

But Rev. Bolz-Weber is way different. I found her talk to be charming and accessible; open and inclusive. I went with my friend who attends(ed) a Southern Baptist church and after listening to Rev. Bolz-Weber speak about how we’re all ‘accidental saints’ and the light of Christ shines upon even the worst of us, J. turned to me and was all, “That’s exactly how I feel, I want a church that accepts me for me.” For this atheist, that’s exactly the kind of public-figure Christian that I can get behind.

Of course she did some readings from her newly released book Accidental Saints, which I’ve started and (of course) is fabulous. She also did the most amazing raffle with the proceeds going to two excellent bookish charities. She ranted about the Hallmark-ization of Christmas, including her extreme dislike of ‘Little Drummer Boy’ and the mischaracterization that modern Christianity has made of the magi (“We’re not talking cute magicians that you hire for your kid’s birthday party, we’re not talking about Gob Bluth.”)

lighter fluid

Another point of her lecture that really hit me hard was her speaking about demons in the Bible and how real those demons may be today. No matter what we want to call them by, depression, mental illness, addiction, even this atheist must agree we have demons that inhabit the world today. I’m probably more sure in my feelings than she is that these ‘demons’ are due to neurological and social causes rather than actual supernatural beings, but despite this I was deeply touched and affected when she spoke of her depression. She named her depression Frances, and “…the only drug that bitch didn’t like was called Wellbutrin.” I too have experienced depression so deep it was tangible, self destructive tendencies so big they felt like possession. This openness and frankness is what I have loved about Rev. Bolz-Weber since I read Pastrix, she’s so real and honest. A lack of honesty is something that I often want to criticize in modern Christians (especially those I don’t know personally).

We are all deeply flawed and all we can do is to continue to love our neighbor, even the bad ones, to the best of our ability. To forgive, to strive harder to be good people and make the world a better place. Again, this is what I love about Rev. Bolz-Weber, is that even though I don’t embrace her theology (though I deeply, truly wish I could) I honestly and completely embrace her philosophy and admire her convictions.

Now for something fun. I totally fangirled out at the book signing portion of the night and was all “You probably don’t remember me, but I was that atheist who loved Pastrix so hard.” and… she claimed she totally did! I got a giant hug from this CrossFitted, Jesus-loving, ELCA pastor and I’m just going to show you how happy I was (and how possibly freaked out she was).

nadia bolz-weber and me

 

What about you, Reader? Felt fan-person-y recently? Have you read anything by Rev. Bolz-Weber? DO YOU LOVE HER? Keep your eyeballs peeled for a review of Accidental Saints, the Socratic Salon might even be tackling it. Obviously if I’ve mischaracterized anything she’s said the mistake is mine.

April

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Hogwarts School of Prayer and Miracles… Continues!

Posted 31 August, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Authors, Reading, writers

So there are those of you out there that may remember when I started this delightful little project, of ironically narrating this simply dreadful piece of Harry Potter fanfic that was written by a fanatical mom who wanted her kids to be able to read Harry Potter but didn’t “want them turning into witches”.  How could I not ironically narrate something named Hogwarts School of Prayer and Miracles, complete with snarky remarks? If you’ve missed chapters 1 – 8 you can find them on my YouTube channel here.

I’ve done something a little different with the final chapters of this saga (yes, all the audio is in the can). I’ve drafted the old AnnaSaurus Rex into doing some sound engineering for me and things sound a bit different, though I assure you it’s still all me. If you’re caught up, enjoy chapter nine! If not… GET CAUGHT UP.

 

 

So, Reader, am I going to hell for this? I think it’s worth it.

April

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Automatic Authors: A Top Ten List

Posted 18 August, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Authors, memes, writers

toptentuesday2

It’s been a hot minute since I did a top ten list, y’all. Today we have authors who write books that I pick up without even reading the synopsis. So, in no particular order…

1. Stephen King. To quote my fellow Stephen King fangirl, Rory from Fourth Street Review briefly, “Obviously.”

2. Joe Hill. I mean, he’s a fantastic horror author in his own right and he’s Stephen King’s son. So, ‘obviously’ again.

3. Margaret Atwood. It doesn’t matter what genre or form this feminist Canadian powerhouse is writing in, I want that book.

4. John Irving. I’ve yet to find an author who does cradle to grave character studies as well and effectively as Irving. My love started with A Prayer for Owen Meany, but has since extended to many of his other novels as well.

5. J.K Rowling. Both Harry Potter related and adult novels. She kicks ass in both forms, I don’t care what anyone says about The Casual Vacancy. I own the Galbraith novels, I just haven’t had a chance to read them yet.

6. Anne Rice. With a caveat, only concerning her Vampire Chronicles books. All the Mayfair Witches, werewolves, and Christ just don’t do it for me. Lestat is where it’s at.

7. Roald Dahl. I know he’s dead, that doesn’t mean I don’t yearn for more of his writing.

8. Herman Koch. The deliciously twisty Dutch writer. I only know of two of his books (The Dinner and Summer House With Swimming Pool) that have been translated to English, but you can bet I’m on the lookout for more.

9. Gillian FlynnI will not be judged! Even if Gone Girl wasn’t your bag, she wrote two other delightfully dark novels that I thoroughly enjoyed. I want novel number four.

10. Nadia Bolz-Weber. Yes, I realize she’s Lutheran clergy. Yes. I realize I’m an atheist. But I love her work and I think that she’s doing some fabulous writing (and preaching) that the U.S. and the world desperately needs to hear. Faithful or not.

What about you, Reader? What are your top ten must buy authors?

April

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Exquisite Inscriptions: Christopher Farnsworth Edition

Posted 10 June, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in writers

farnsworth inscription header

So, I started this ‘series’ last April with my Chuck Palahniuk signed books. Today finally, I want to move on to the next post in this series and those are my signed copies of ‘The President’s Vampire’ trilogy (still a trilogy, as far as I know…) by Christopher Farnsworth.

Now my story here is different. I wrote to Mr. Farnsworth on Goodreads long before I started blogging. I had run across a copy of ‘strange but true’ tales that had story about a Portuguese sailor who had been tried and convicted of vampirism, who was then granted clemency by President Andrew Johnson, which is more or less the premise of Farnsworth’s trilogy. I can’t say what possessed me to do such a thing, because I don’t make it a habit of writing strange authors to ask about their inspiration, but I was in law school at the time so it’s very possible I was procrastinating.

Anyway. Farnsworth replied to me promptly and was extremely nice, when I asked him if he had any opportunities like Chuck P. or Anne Rice where you could order signed copies of his books from bookstores he had been to he offered to sign my copies and mail them back to me. He wouldn’t even accept return postage from me! So I sent him Blood Oath, he sent it back to me with a signature and a t-shirt. When the other two books were published I asked him again if I could send him my books and he gladly accepted, even though by that time he was a vampire writing superstar.

If you haven’t read the Nathaniel Cade novels, you’re missing out on some great fun. Think a new twist on the vampire genre, combined with some awesome classic monster movies. If you don’t have these three books in your beach bag this summer, you’re missing out.

But the inscriptions!! Here they are!

Farnsworth inscription collage

Inscriptions from Christopher Farnsworth on his Nathaniel Cade trilogy.

What about you, Reader? Do you have any fun inscribed books? Do you collect rare books? Share with the group! Thanks again Mr. Farnsworth!

April

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Friday Flowchart: Get your Stephen King on!

Posted 19 December, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in writers

If you’ve been around for any length of time you know I have a fairly serious… um, obsession? with Stephen King. I thought that it was time to go ahead and share my wealth of knowledge with those that are uninitiated or less initiated. So in the spirit of Book Riot’s Margaret Atwood Reading Pathway, I decided to make you, dear Reader, a flowchart.

Note: There are two stories (novellas, really) that I recommend in Different Seasons for those not wanting the night terrors, they are ‘Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption’ and ‘The Body’.

Edit: I noticed I don’t have fear ratings on Mr. Mercedes or Joyland… I think both of those are probably just a little spooky.

Enjoy!

Do you have favorite Stephen King books, Reader? I’ve left off a few of my favorites, but the chart was getting too complicated too quickly.

 

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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The Whirlwind Trip to D.C. – Stephen King, An Ode to

Posted 17 November, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in books and publishing, musings, writers

So, I went to Washington D.C. for three days with the express purpose of seeing Stephen King speak. I had the added pleasure of being able to meet up with Shannon at River City Reading for the event. I’m going to tell you of my trip in reverse order, because I know what the people really want (and that’s this post). 

The event was a reading that was a part of a six city tour to promote his new book Revival. Before we get started with the main event I need you to know a little bit of my personal background with Stephen King. If you’ve been hanging around for any period of time, you probably already know this about me. 

I picked up my first King book (Cujo) from my father’s stack of King novels when I was eleven. I remember being relegated to walking around the fences of the tennis courts during gym class because I had ‘accidentally’ forgotten my gym clothes (again). 

Growing up walking home from school with The Giver, A Wrinkle in Time, and of course the ubiquitous Baby Sitter’s Club, and Fear Street novels made me quite proficient at walking and reading. So walking that rectangular fence, expertly avoiding the cracks in the asphalt I found something in Cujo that even to this day I can’t quite describe. 

Before Cujo it never occurred to me that things like pubic hair could be spoken of outside a health textbook, that there could be such suspense, and as King often puts it himself ‘balls to the wall horror’ contained within a novel. That death and despair were possible and all you had to do was open the book to be completely transported somewhere terrifying. It should also be noted that in my opinion Cujo is not one of his better novels and weirdly, holds no special place in my heart.

For this reason alone I think that King and his writing are special to me and molded me as a reader, but something also struck me about him while watching a biography program. I couldn’t have been more than fourteen or so and what I remember best about the program is the idea that King conveyed that even if he wasn’t being paid a cent for his writing — he’d still be doing it, solely for the passion that he has for the craft. His love of reading and writing made a lasting impression on me and he is someone I very much admire for that passion. 

Okay, let’s get to the goods, you’re thinking. So! The (sold out) event was scheduled for 7 p.m. at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium which has a capacity of 1,409. Shannon had to work that morning and I was just grateful she was willing to brave the D.C. traffic. So I killed the morning visiting The Supreme Court and The Library of Congress (details coming in future posts). After some slight snafu’s regarding meeting locations Shannon and I finally met up at the National Museum of American History where Shannon had just concluded saying hello to the First Ladies dresses.

Obligatory proof of life meeting picture.

So while employees of the Lisner Auditorium told me that people had been lining up since at least one p.m., Shannon and I chose to enjoy dinner and we made it to the venue at about 6:30, it turned out very nicely, while we weren’t overly close, that was probably for the best as that way Shannon was not forced to restrain me while I attempted to throw myself on the stage like a madwoman. 

I’m still rambling, aren’t I? Well, when the King made his way on to the stage Shannon did have to deal with a mild amount of squeeing and she may have handed me the smelling salts at some point but once the event got going it was everything I wanted it to be, and more. King was charming, funny, down to earth and… a terrible dresser. Pictures in a moment.

I was really impressed how he segued from the first line of a bad two line joke, (“Two jumper cables walk into a bar…”) into the craft of writing, his own writing process, and everything else in-between. I won’t go so far as to say he’s a formidable public speaker, but he’s definitely engaging. The audience was slightly insane and clapped every time he mentioned the title of one of his books (even Gerald’s Game, I mean seriously?) but he took it in stride and never came off as arrogant or irritating (or irritated, for that matter). I was also delighted to find out that he’s friends with John Irving (my top three authors, Stephen King, John Irving, Margaret Atwood). 

There wasn’t supposed to be photography allowed but the girl two seats down from me had a full on DSLR camera and if she had taken one more picture with a flash in the darkened auditorium, I was going to shank her. In hindsight, I should have given her my card and asked her to email me her photos. By the time Q&A came up and the floor lights came up I decided to damn the rules and eke out two fuzzy little shots. Here’s what I got for my effort and breaking of the rules. 


Oh, the end of the joke is: Two jumper cables walk into a bar and say, “Can we get a drink?” the bartender says, “Yeah, just don’t start anything.” <rimshot>.

Overall great time meeting and hanging out with Shannon at such a phenomenal event. Totally worth the price of tickets, especially considering we each got a hardback copy of Revival (though sadly, we were not among the lucky few who randomly got signed copies). 

So, Reader, do you have any authors that you’d travel 1200+ miles round trip over the course of three days to see? I flew, no worries. Though the pilot on my trip back to Atlanta might have been wearing heels during the landing.

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Guest Post: Stuck in the Middle

Posted 20 October, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in books and publishing, guest post, writers

Source: loranger / Foter / CC BY

What writer hasn’t dreamed of being published, selling loads of copies, and maybe even having his or her book made into a movie? One of my friends is doing just that. I’d be jealous if I wasn’t so darn happy for her. Her book, traditionally published, was released in June 2014 and has sold nearly 5,000 copies—an  amazing feat considering those are print copies (she doesn’t yet have an ebook).

And a small-time movie production house is in negotiations with her publisher for the movie rights. She told me not to get excited because even if they buy the rights, they only produce 1 out of 7 scripts they have the rights to. Sorry, can’t help it—I’m excited for her!

On the other end of the spectrum, I know plenty of self-published authors with high-quality books (you wouldn’t even know they’re self-published by the looks of them) who have only sold a handful of copies.

So what do these people have in common? They’re all broke as a joke.

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am stuck in the middle with you.

In this Stealer’s Wheel analogy, I’m not sure who’s the clown and who’s the joker, but I do know there has to be a better way for authors. So much talent, so little money. If you go with a traditional publisher, you might get more visibility for your book but your royalties are so low (typically 7-15%) it’s hard to make a living off of it unless you’re one of the few breakout stars.

And while self-publishers can earn up to 70% in royalties, it doesn’t amount to much unless you sell enough copies.

Trying to make some sense of it all. But I can see that it makes no sense at all.

What the industry needs is a publisher that is small enough to give you the focused attention and marketing your book needs to succeed while not taking all your hard-earned royalties. You don’t need to sell millions; as long as you earn decent royalties, you can make a comfortable living with your books on the midlist.

Light bulb!

That’s exactly what we do at Velvet Morning Press, an indie publishing house I launched with co-founder and fellow author Adria J. Cimino. We’re sick of seeing authors having to work a day job to support a writing career. If you write something great, you should have a shot at success. With Velvet Morning Press, we offer higher royalties than larger publishing houses and stick with you—and your book—to market it to success.

We are currently accepting submissions of finished manuscripts, so if you’ve got one that meets our criteria, send it along! We look forward to being “Stuck in the Middle” with you—we  believe it’s the best place for a new author to be.


I find this almost unbearably exciting, Readers! Both Vicki and Adria are fabulous authors and awesome people to boot! It’s almost enough to make me wish I was a writer, who knows maybe I’ll spruce up my NaNoWriMo manuscript from last year and throw my hat in the ring. Are you a writer who looks like this might be a good option for you? 


April @ The Steadfast Reader

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