I first became acquainted with Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives at the Book Blogger Convention this year, it was the brightly colored paperback in my convention bag which immediately drew my eye and made me want to read the description right then. And I will admit I did read it right then sitting in the convention room. Author Josie Brown describes her book thus….
“In my novel, Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives, I explore the perceptions and deceptions affecting two marriages. The Harpers, Lyssa and Ted, are socially entrenched in the tiny Silicon Valley town of Paradise Heights, California, unlike DeeDee and Harry Wilder, who are admired by all, but politely aloof to their neighbors. Then word gets out that DeeDee has walked out on Harry and their two children. Gossip runs rampant through the Heights. Was DeeDee having an affair? Is it true that Harry is fighting her for everything—even the dog? Lyssa’s friends gossip about the neighbors while ignoring their own problems: infertility, infidelity, and eating disorders. The truth is, if the community’s “perfect couple,” Harry and DeeDee, can call it quits, what does that mean for everyone else? At least one of the rumors is true: to hold on to his children and his home, Harry, once a workaholic, realigns his life and becomes a stay-at-home dad. Touched by his efforts at trial-by-error single parenting, Lyssa befriends him, never realizing the effect their relationship will have on her close-knit circle of friends—or its explosive impact on her own marriage.”
Add on a tag line like “Suburbia is a jungle.” and who could resist this book pick? Then talk about serendipitous timing…I finally was able to align reading the book with vacation. This meant just me, the beach, the pool and a great book. Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives is wonderfully snarky, fun and sarcastic but it also has some heart to it that you would not expect. Throw in the pop culture references and an exciting storyline with lots of twists and turns and you have the perfect vacation read! It’s just a fun book that I have to say I enjoyed every moment of. And as a SAHM myself, I definitely see some truths hidden within. I also loved Brown’s sense of humor and how it comes off through her writing. Her wit is really charming and one of the reasons I think her writing is so exceptional with rich suburbia as her main subject. Talk about a place rife with stereotypes and punch lines! I would recommend Secrets of Husbands and Wives as a vacation read, a fun read or just a great book when you need to relax and get away from your own suburban life. It’s a hit for any occasion.
And since I met Josie through and became acquainted with the book at the Book Blogger Convention, I thought what better topic for a guest post than to get an author’s take on the Book Blogger Convention and Book Blogging itself. Luckily Josie was up for the challenge and was able to give it her unique wit and humor. Thanks Josie! It’s an honor to have you guest here at Stiletto Storytime!
The Book Bloggers Convention, from an Author’s Perspective
I love happenings.
I was too young San Francisco’s Summer of Love and Woodstock. However, my way of making up for that black hole in the space-time continuum is this:
I can say I was at the very first Book Bloggers Convention.*
I’m being serious. Just think about it! A high concept was successfully put into motion by a motley and far-flung crew: Amy at My Friend Amy, Michelle at Galleysmith, Natasha at Maw Books, Nicole at Linus’s Blanket, Pam at MotherReader, Rebecca at The Book Lady’s Blog, and last but hardly least, Trish at Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin’?
These peeps—your peeps—put on quite a show. The biggest exchange wasn’t business cards or even books, but IDEAS that will be put into action by most( if not all) who were in attendance: bloggers, book publicists, publishers, and of course we authors.
And, as is the result of most happenings, creates ripples of change in society.
The book industry is already rife with change. Right now the elephant in the room is distribution: the method in which books will be delivered. The growth of eReader and eBook sales is having a drastic effect on where and how we buy our books.
As the number of indie booksellers shrinks—and the larger retailers go into flux (both Barnes & Noble and Borders are having financial concerns: the former’s stock is in play; the latter has experienced venture capital woes), book promotion becomes even more important in the scheme of things.
In the eyes of both the publisher and the author, those who make it their life mission to talk about books are a big part of the promotion equation.
Ahem. That would be you.
No one in publishing discounts word-of-mouth. With the number of newspapers declining—and along with them the number of columnists who review books—the book blogger is filling a very important role for the industry.
Believe me, Ms. And Mr. Book Blogger, everyone appreciates you—none the least we authors. From my perspective, here’s are a few tips I hope will help you do that wonderful voodoo that you do so well:
- Ask for a copy of our books. Email us. Or email a publicists at our publishing houses. Don’t be shy! It doesn’t matter that you’re not a reporter with the New York Times. Every voice out there in the ether-sphere has a ripple effect. Like Emily Dickenson, I may write in a garret, but if my book doesn’t go out of that room, I’ll never get the chance to write again, so I welcome you to read my book, and to comment on it.
- Don’t feel obligated to write something just because the book came your way. Sounds simple, right? But guilt is a complex emotion. Those of you who have participated in blog tours know that it is both an honor and a pain: you sign up because it’s great to get free books. To make the publishers happy, you feel an obligation to post something about the book, even if it wasn’t something you would have normally read.
Aye, there’s the rub! If, for example, your blog is devoted to mysteries and thrillers, but you for some reason you signed up for a vampire erotic romance, perhaps you now feel obligated to write something to justify receiving the book. Needless to say, your review then looks like this: “…Meh. I didn’t get it. But then again, I don’t usually read this kind of book…”
Oh yeah: and you then give the author just two stars—
And the review is auto-posted on Goodreads.
Do you see that tear? It just fell from my cheek onto my keyboard.
Believe me, authors can take constructive criticism. Heck, we get it all the time: from our critique partners, our agents, our editors. The hoops we jump through in order to get our books in the hands of readers are many, and quite tall. So you can imagine how hard it is to see reviews from those who don’t really want to read it in the first place. It is the equivalent to that renowned third grade book review by Bart Simpson: “Treasure Island? Um….yep, there was a pirate. With an eye patch. And a parrot. I give it three stars….”
In other words, no review is better than a non-review.
- When you write something, do so objectively. A pal who writes contemporary women’s fiction got slammed by a blogger who felt the need to compare her own relationship to that of the book’s heroine (!!!!). The reviewer’s claim was that she and her significant had no time the kinds of things that went on in the book, that they would never ever ever do things like that to each other….
Thou protesteth too much.
What my friend got out of that review: she’d obviously hit a raw nerve.
Sadly, that review got her one star. Her response: “I guess next time I should write a book in which there is no conflict between the characters . . . Hey, does anyone out there know an editor who will buy something like that?”
Um. . . No. editors love conflict. They love stories in which the characters are flawed, in which there is some dysfunction in a relationship.
Otherwise, where’s the story?
- Ask us to participate on your site. We love giveaways. We love answering questions about ourselves, our characters, our process. We love writing guest blog posts (which is what you’re reading now) and we love interacting with your readers, because we hope that they will be reading, us, too. We want you to FB us and Tweet us up—and we love doing the same for you.
Bottom line: we’re here for you.
Because we know you’re here for us, too.
I think this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship. And you can quote me on that.
* (Full disclosure: Alas, due to a looming book deadline, I only allowed myself to attend the Book Bloggers Convention’s opening evening reception. and NO, despite what Ron Hogan may claim, that was NOT me dancing in the corner with the lampshade on my head. However, had wine been served….)
Thanks again Josie! It’s been an honor to have you on the site!
Josie Brown’s most recent novel is Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives [Simon & Schuster]. Feel free to email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, and certainly check out her website [www.JosieBrown.com] and her blog [www.AuthorProvocateur.com]