This has been a wild year, and also a quiet one.
I finished my eight-years-in-progress novel, The Serinette, after reading Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven and seeing how her short chapters worked so successfully. With a big-voiced, many POV novel, and my own sort of nineteenth century language, I decided my big chapters were slowing my novel down. I reworked it, and found a lot of connective tissue that could be cut back. I worked with freelance editor Suzy Vitello on this final draft. Suzy is a fabulous YA novelist and keeps her eye on plot and pacing, which helped me fortify my final short-chapter structure and feel confident in the results.
What’s next? Another novel, of course. I know the who, the when, the where, and the why, and the voice opened inside me the first day I sat down to write. I have a long way to go, but I’m feeling exhilarated to be in a new world, not the France of my imaginings as in The Serinette.
My business, Forest Avenue Press, had all its eggs in one basket this year: Landfall by Ellen Urbani, endorsed by Pat Conroy, Fannie Flagg, and Garth Stein, among others. Ellen went on a twenty-city national book tour, which I facilitated from the ground here in Oregon, and promoted with the help of our publicist.
Do book tours sell books? That’s the question a lot of people ask, but as Ellen and I talked about over and over again when she reiterated her intention, and I went ahead with the booking, a tour is more than just the event itself, the sales at that moment. Ellen leveraged her personal crowds, including sorority connections and Peace Corps folks, to fill many rooms along the way, and lots of books sold–and they keep selling, perhaps in part because those bookstore employees and those attendees spread the word to others, and so on. Ellen went above and beyond on so many levels, sending batches of postcards tied with Landfall ribbon and dragonfly charms to booksellers, bringing host gifts of books by some of her favorite authors to community members who housed her and rallied their friend to attend, and so on.
Landfall was named a 2015 Great Group Reads by the Women’s National Book Association. We created a “50 in 15 Challenge” for this book too–sign up here by Dec. 31 at 11:59 p.m. to read Landfall in your book club, and you’ll get fun extras!
Next year Forest Ave will publish three titles–The Remnants by Robert Hill (March), Froelich’s Ladder by Jamie Duclos-Yourdon (August), and City of Weird: 30 Otherworldly Portland Stories (October). It was great fun to spend the year on one title, and adjusting to having distribution through the amazing Legato Publishers Group (a division of Perseus), but I’m excited to see what 2016 will bring.