Feb. 20 #LakeUnionAuthors Twitter Chat & Giveaway

Join 45+ Lake Union Authors during today’s all-day Twitter Chat.

Imagine an entire day (and evening) devoted to chatting about books and the writing life with dozens of authors. That’s the idea behind the second annual #LakeUnionAuthors Twitter Chat on Tuesday, February 20.

How to attend: To participate, all you have to do is hop on over to Twitter, search on the hashtag #LakeUnionAuthors, and jump into the conversation. (Be sure to refresh your page occasionally to stay current.)

The above image details the official Twitter Chat author line-up. But last year’s Twitter Party was so much fun, I expect authors will pop in and out all day!

I’ll be live from 7:30 to 9 PM EST along with my fellow Lake Union Authors Kerry Lonsdale, Nicola Marsh, Catherine McKenzie, Catherine Ryan Hyde, Susan Schoenberger, Lisa Steinke and Janis Thomas. Feel free to post questions to me @PatPDonovan or to any of the authors.

In honor of this epic event for book lovers, I’m giving away a signed copy of each of my Lake Union novels: my debut, DELIVER HER, and my latest release, AT WAVE’S END.

Leave a comment below for a chance to win one of my two Lake Union book babies.

To enter, leave your name and a comment below by MIDNIGHT PST FEBRUARY 20, 2018. I’ll pick two winners at random who will each win a copy. (U.S. only for print copies; I’ll happily substitute a Kindle version for winners outside of the United States.)

The winners will be announced in my March 2018 Readers Crew newsletter, along with my regular book updates. Not already a subscriber? Sign up here.

Lake Union Publishing offers absorbing works of contemporary and historical fiction that make perfect book club picks. From lush sagas to laugh-out-loud fare, Lake Union Publishing has a story for every taste, season, and mood, from bestselling and debut authors alike. Check out past and upcoming Lake Union releases.

P.S. If you’re on Facebook, check out the Lake Union Authors page. Authors take turns hosting each week, bringing you the latest book news and conversation!

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Twizzles, Harry Connick Junior, and Me

Breathtaking performances, agonizing waits for judges’ critiques, tears, exhilaration, relief.

These heights and depths are currently playing out in two dramatic locations—Sochi’s Olympic venues and American Idol’s Hollywood studios—as well as in one obscure corner of the world: my writing office.

My workspace is my practice hall, where in the early morning hours, I put myself through my paces, polishing book drafts, essays, short stories in the hopes of scoring that perfect 10 —representation, publication, or a book deal— or at the very least, a second look, which in Idol parlance, translates to Harry Connick Jr. handing you a ticket to Hollywood Week.

No guarantees, but you’re still in the running.

Yes, we writers experience highs, like the ping of publication or the rush of a pitch getting an agent’s attention. These are worth a million early mornings. Then there are the lows, when the rejections pile up— or worse, when there is no acknowledgement of the dozens of queries you’ve launched into the murky darkness of digital submissions.

I could go on ad nauseum comparing writers and artists to Olympic hopefuls and Idol contestants. But I won’t. I’d really rather just get back to my writing, but in today’s literary landscape, that isn’t enough. We also are expected to ably post, tweet and otherwise self-promote from social media platforms more sophisticated than Sochi’s slopestyle course or the pairs’ long program. I suppose this is the athlete’s equivalent of a slopeside Access Hollywood interview or a chat with Ellen post-Idol elimination— it comes with the territory.

The truth is, publishing, like sports, music, and any other industry where only a few can rise to the top, has upped its game. Did anyone know what a Twizzle was ten years ago? When Simon Cowell first hit our shores in his blinding white tee shirts, were the Idol contestants accompanying themselves on guitar or keyboard? Can you imagine Hemingway’s Instagram feed?

The stakes are higher today: those who want to make an impression—a lasting impression—must up our games as well.

So yeah, maybe I’m not so different from my dawn patrol comrades: the skaters showing up at the rink for a 5 a.m. practice, or the Idol hopefuls in line to audition before sunrise. You just have to keep putting yourself out there. Because you never know when that big break will come.

I do feel the pressure a little more than most. After all, I’m the same age as the oldest Olympian in Sochi, Hubertus von Hohenlohe, a six-time Mexican Olympian who is also a German prince.

He came to Sochi knowing his chances of medaling were slim. But Hubertus has a plan: If the Olympics don’t pan out, he can fall back on his recording career. Among other pursuits, Prince Hubertus is also a pop star who goes by the name of Andy Himalaya.

When Andy Himalaya quits his day job, then I will, too.

‘Mouths in Tight O’s’ and Other Book Club Critiques

It was a hysterical sight: seven women around my dining room table contorting their mouths into approximations of a tight O — a literary descriptor I am apparently quite fond of.

“You use it a lot. I had to stop reading and try to picture it,” said one as she pursed and stretched her lips. The rest quickly followed suit.

I nearly fell off my chair laughing at the group grimaces, but that’s the kind of feedback you’ll get when you ask a book club — your own book club — to review your first novel.

In a burst of bravado, I had assembled my fellow readers, all close friends, to review a polished draft of “Deliver Her” — my tale of a distraught mother who hires a professional transporter to drive her teenage daughter to treatment in New England, a voyage that goes dangerously awry.

Our book club disbanded several years ago, but when I timidly ventured last year that I was working on “a little something,” the club pledged to reconvene if and when my “little something” materialized. Which is why, after sating ourselves with chili, dried meat snacks (okay, so foodie book clubs might find themselves a little challenged by my debut effort) and plenty of wine, we were at my table and getting down to the business of book-clubbing.

Was I scared?  Only a little. It was right up there with wearing a bathing suit in front of co-workers — worse than being naked.

But since I already had gathered feedback from about two dozen first readers, my authorly skin had thickened slightly.

Good thing: roaring out of retirement, my book club took this assignment quite seriously. I think it was one of the rare times every last member finished a book before our meeting. It was as though we’d never disbanded — these women with whom I had soldiered through nearly three dozen books over three years.

We kicked off in 2008 with “Glass Castles” by Jeanette Walls and wrapped up with Diana Gabaldon’s “Outlander” — this last reviewed in a local bar. It was with no disrespect to Ms. Gabaldon that we closed the book on our club that night after a long, satisfying run — including a holiday gathering with spouses that centered around Anita Shreve’s “A Wedding in December,” Ginny’s white coconut cake a masterpiece. Some of the men even took a shot at the book.

After all, we weren’t that kind of book club, a strict one with all the rules. We were as much about the laughter as the literature.

Disbanding didn’t stop us from being friends. It just meant that books aren’t the main reason we get together anymore.

Except for tonight. This night, in my home, with my book, the club was reenergized, well-prepared.
These readers had a lot to say about “Deliver Her.” Their suggestions were heartfelt, astute and most of all, supportive, and deeply influenced the second iteration I sent off to an encouraging literary agent just before Christmas.

We so thoroughly enjoyed ourselves we even talked of resurrecting the club. After all, our children were older and less demanding, we reasoned; there are even empty nesters among us. Time will tell. Maybe a film club this time around: no prep required.

In the meantime, I am extraordinarily grateful to these women and to all my first readers for their time, feedback and encouragement. I will acknowledge them properly when “Deliver Her” sees the publishing light of day — in print or in Paperwhite.

For now, I plan to swallow hard, bare all and invite them to follow me here and elsewhere while I work to deliver “Deliver Her” to the masses.

And just for the record: when I checked my draft, tight O appeared only once in 320 pages, though overall, I lean on this letter far too heavily. After all, Word’s search results don’t lie:  

  • Pursed in a tight ‘O’
  • A perfect ‘O’ of white hair
  • The gaping ‘O’ overhead
  • The white ‘O’ around his mouth
  • Mouth open in an ‘O’ of surprise

O no. I will be energetically employing the other 25 letters in future projects. Stay tuned.

One Day You Will…

Run a marathon. Own your own business. Quit your job and sail for a year. Write a novel.

Yeah, about that last one. Based on the push I got the other night, I’m about to do this. The thought is at once scary and exhilarating, especially since I’m working toward a completion date of December 31, 2012. (Hence the countdown on the bottom right of this blog.) So even as I post these few words here, I’m feeling guilty for not adding to the day’s thousand words (Stephen King’s advice to aspiring writers).

Running on the Spring Lake boardwalk on Saturday, I was behind a tee-shirt read ONE DAY YOU WILL. Just like that, in big block letters. I liked the infinite possibility of it: fill in the blank with your dream or goal. It struck me that this is my “one day,” so why not adopt this as my motto? And while I’m at it, it’s a great name for my blog.

So I was not even a little let down to learn that “One Day You Will” is the tagline for Glenfiddich’s new “Explorers” ad campaign. Because what are writers if not explorers…of the imagination, of the what-if’s, of the infinite power of words?

What will you find at ONE DAY YOU WILL? I’ll use this space to chronicle the “Transported” trip and share great bits of writing, visual inspirations a la Susan Breen’s “image diary” exercise (always done at the last minute but from which was borne this book idea), and tips about the creative process from authors whose work I respect. Thanks for reading and sharing!