Tag Archive for: Penguin

Let Me Tell You a Story…

By Laura Spinella
Today I’m celebrating the release of PERFECT TIMING, my second book!  Here’s a little behind the scenes peek at how this novel came to be:
Backstory often ends up being the
most interesting part of publication. Of course, while it’s happening, the
author never realizes backstory is backstory. In the thick of things, backstory is the malaise of the process—or, more accurately, the one step forward, two steps
back shuffle of book writing. There’s amazement and achievement when a novel
clears all the hurdles, the hard revisions, and labor intensive rewriting of
pages that were briefly, dreamily deemed perfect.
But after a book sells and edits are finalized, there is time to reflect. Traditional publishing comes with a wait time of a year or
more. And it was in this holding pattern that I started to think about backstory,
how and why I ended up writing the book I did. While my first novel, BEAUTIFUL
was a product of past environment, PERFECT TIMING is
anchored to my present. I’m almost as fond of its backtory as I am the result. In a phrase, this is the story of the little trunk novel that could.
readers are important readers, and PERFECT
 had more than a
few. Among them was my oldest daughter, Megan. She was this book’s first fan,
and Aidan and Isabel remain her favorite characters. Her interest fueled a lot
of drive during the novel’s rough “I
can’t do this”
Yes, Megan listened to her fair share of whining as I wrote, and rewrote, this
book.  But she also insisted that if I was malevolent enough to create
such heart-wrenching conflict, I’d better come up the right resolutions to see things through.

(Since PT contains a few steamier scenes, I should mention that
Megan is 24) Writing to satisfy her demand was a challenge, and winning her
approval an achievement. She’s a tough editor and a scrupulous critic. In the
end, I believe she got the book she wanted. I know she’s pleased by its
dedication page. There was the trial and error of two manuscripts after BEAUTIFUL DISASTER, at which point Megan insisted I revisit the story and characters she found so endearing. Clearly, sometimes, you should listen to your kids.

At a glance, it’s
true that PERFECT TIMING’s protagonist is a rock star. That part
is intended to take the reader away from the ordinary.  And I do think, in
his element, Aidan Royce earns his ovation. But that’s not what this story is
about; it’s about the rhythm of lasting friendship, and the beat of a love
story subject to incredible odds. It’s about family and figuring out what makes
you truly happy, then being brave enough to embrace it. PERFECT TIMING is relationship fiction set to the
sometimes extraordinary and always precarious tempo of life.
When I look at this book’s perfect cover, there is still the awe that comes with a second book, the surprise that it even exists. But I’m also pleased and confident in this story’s backstory and the way life influenced PERFECT TIMING.
Laura Spinella is the author of the newly released PERFECT TIMING and award-winning BEAUTIFUL DISASTER. Visit her at lauraspinella.net 

Smile, You’re On!

By Laura Spinella 
My first public reading was nothing short of a disaster. Trust me; there
was nothing beautiful about it.  The
moment was so bad I couldn’t even articulate the aforementioned pun at my own
expense. (See Beautiful Disaster, Penguin, 2011) It was a packed library, which I wasn’t expecting. The sight of the
room was promptly followed by a panic attack, which I definitely wasn’t
expecting. In an aftermath of humiliation, I was left to wonder why such a
thing would happen to me. Theater was my passion in high school. I had no
problem getting up in front of a packed auditorium to belt out scenes and songs
from some of Broadway’s best shows. It’s particularly puzzling when you
consider that I am a far better writer than I am a singer. (Should you disagree,
no need to email) Yet that awful library moment ties with my five worst
publication experiences—thus far. A woman who came to a book club meeting, just
to make sure I understood her loathing of romantic Southern set novels, is a
close second.
            I would like to file
these experiences under live and learn. But with PERFECT TIMING out this
fall, my chances of avoiding public speaking and the occasional bitter book
club member are a moot point. In fact, I’d probably be wise to garner what I can and make an attempt to learn from it. So, what’s up with the public library debacle? A freak incident? Maybe. Was it the awkwardly timed realization that my words were suddenly out there for
the world to comment on at large? Could be. Or it might have been this: A
character that appears on stage comes with a predetermined script. While I
could certainly script my speech, there was no character involved. It was just
me… behind a podium…. a very undersized podium from what I recall.
            Many writers wear public
speaking like a second skin. They read fluidly from their books, conveying a story
as though the audience were a mesmerized group of kindergarteners. Speeches are
effortless, drawing in listeners and making them feel comfortable. These
authors segue from the written word to spoken the one as if public speaking were
their native tongue. To me, it’s a foreign dialect for which I don’t have much
natural talent. However, I do excel in group-specific public arenas. I’m great at book
clubs, almost entertaining—even if you don’t love romantic Southern fiction.
There’s something easy about sitting around with a group of women, even if you
don’t know a single one personally, and just chatting. On the other hand, I’m
stunned by the idea of getting up in front of that same group and being the targeted
center of attention.
Targeted center of
… perhaps therein lies a clue.
            Interestingly, I do have
a middle-of-the-road experience when it comes to public gatherings. More than
once, I’ve been asked to speak to my college alumni. I wasn’t flawless in these
instances, but I was certainly more comfortable than a generic public setting.
I suppose it has to do with camaraderie. While the alumni I spoke to were
individual strangers, we shared a common bond in having attended the same
university. My mind translated this as friendly territory, trickling down to my
nerves, which, in turn, did not fray. Had I sought professional help, I’m sure
this would have been the diagnosis.
            So tell me Gang members
and readers alike, how do you handle these situations? Are some of us just
naturally gifted when it comes to public gab? Or is it a skill that evolves
over time—like most things. You have captive audience here, please drop me
comment on public speaking 101.      
Laura Spinella is the award-winning author of BEAUTIFUL DISASTER and the upcoming novel, PERFECT TIMING. Visit her at lauraspinella.net  

Great Expectations

 By Laura Spinella 
Best Graphic Available Under Pressure
I’ve never been a fan of the phrase, “book pregnant.” Maybe that’s
because I wasn’t particularly good at “real pregnant.” Years removed and my
memories still rouse a hazy sea of green swells, my stomach rolling on the
thought, not to mention the cumulative 27 months of my life spent on my knees
at the porcelain altar. I didn’t glow, I didn’t nest.  I didn’t do much of anything but puke. Friends
and family, not to mention my husband, are amazed that we have three
children.  I attribute them to the same you-never-know audacity that makes
writers’ write book two, after book one fails to sell.  Granted, in some circles this might be perceived
as stupidity.  The first pregnancy was
the worst. We were in the midst of building a house, traveling back and forth
between Long Island and Maryland. By the time there was drywall, I’d tossed it
up in every rest stop on the Jersey Turnpike.
            I say the first
pregnancy was the worst, and it was. The other two weren’t a terrific
improvement, but I knew what to expect, so in some regards it made for slightly
smoother sailing. I’m hoping the same holds true for books as I find myself “in
a novel-way” again.  THE IT FACTOR is in its
first trimester, with the father-bird, Penguin, settling in to roost.  As you can see from my bright blue
mock-cover, I’ve already decided it’s a boy. 
Like a real pregnancy, a book sale draws a huge round of congratulations,
the big difference being you can indulge in the champagne.
            We’re off and running (using the term loosely here) on
a journey of edits and cover concerns, wondering if they’ll let me keep the
name I’ve chosen.  Who knows?  I am sure, however, that there will be a word-by-word
dissection over the back cover blurb, which can be critical in terms of readership.  I’m already wringing my hands over this part,
separating information that readers will find intriguing from a passage that gives too much away. It looks like THE IT FACTOR will be a late fall
book and this can be tricky in New England. 
But I have solid experience here, having had four babies in raw weather
months—November, December, March and January, BEAUTIFUL DISASTER’S pub
date.  To be honest, that part feels
rather fitting; a sunny day in June would just seem strange.  When the calendar finally gets around to next
fall—which, admittedly, seems light years from now—I’ll fret over Aidan and
Isabel like I did Megan, Jamie and Grant on their first day at school.  Will people like them? Did I do enough before
pushing them out the door?  Will they be resilient
when labeled a frothy romp? Okay, so I wasn’t thinking about my kids on that one. Regardless, there will be no
turning back. Of course, I do have an advantage with the book. I can always ignore my Amazon page.  Live children
make this a tad more difficult. 
         So let the countdown begin—Aidan Royce, my rock
star protagonist, waits calmly in the wings for his cue. His elusive love
interest, Isabel, is probably not as anxious—but isn’t this what we strive for in
a complex character?  I’m still  not fond of the phrase, “book pregnant,” though I can’t deny the
similarities, right down to that queasy feeling of expectation.    
Laura Spinella is the author of the award winning novel, BEAUTIFUL DISASTER and the upcoming novel, THE IT FACTOR!  YAY!! Visit her at lauraspinella.net.       

A Glass Slipper in a Stiletto Heel

by Laura Spinella

When the fabulous Susan McBride invited me to guest blog at The Stiletto Gang, I was intimidated. I haven’t owned a pair of stiletto heels since—well, frankly, I don’t think I’ve ever owned stiletto heels. Not by lack of desire, I simply have feet more akin to a duck than a diva, and therefore have never been a candidate for sexy footwear. But considering I was to lead with my writing and not my wardrobe, I figured I could muddle through.

I suspect there’s every chance you’ve never heard of me, Laura Spinella, or my book, which was released in January via Penguin Group. BEAUTIFUL DISASTER is Southern set women’s fiction with a heavy thread of romance. And by heavy thread, I mean there’s a chapter or two where stiletto heels and all the connotations fit like a glass slipper. It’s my debut novel, which makes me new to publishing. However, not so new to writing or life; I have plenty of experience there. I’ve made a modest living freelancing, but I didn’t write a novel until I was flirting with forty. I always knew I’d write a book; I just didn’t have a timeline in mind. You know how it goes. First there was one kid, and then there were two. This was followed by moves from sun-baked states to places where snow on April Fools’ Day is no joke. Eventually, I glanced down and there was a third kid. Today, he and I meet eye-to-eye, though I still find myself asking, “How did you get here?”

The truth, in part, is that I didn’t sit down to write a novel until public education took over childcare. But, mostly, I didn’t do it earlier because I didn’t know enough about life. When you write book you have to think for a lot of people. Inherently, novels involve conflict. It’s the author’s job to craft an entire world from scratch, filling it with characters and issues and outcomes that will satisfy the reader. Before forty, I had enough trouble doing that for real, never mind in a book. So here I am, at a beginning.

A debut novel can do a lot of things. It can satisfy a dream, make you Uber-popular in the car pool line, and incite opinions from strangers. Odd as it is, those strangers will decide if you’re the next Alice Hoffman or if the Author’s Guild should confiscate your laptop. It’s interesting when a debut novel skyrockets. Reviewers and readers will talk about it as if the author never hammered out a single sentence before penning their breakout novel. A book like that is often viewed as an epiphany. That or the writer cracked their head on the bathroom sink, grabbed a Ziplock bag full of ice, and proceeded to a computer where the debut novel bled from their head onto the page. I’d bet you every pair of stilettos in the Jimmy Choo collection that said author’s book had more than one inception, preceded by numerous novel attempts. And knowing the amount of attempts it takes, I feel fortunate to have made it this far. Ten weeks in and I’ve experienced some of the highs and lows of a being a published author. I’m invested now, carefully constructing my sophomore effort. Hopefully, it won’t suffer a sophomore jinx. Either way, one thing is for certain, in front of me is a debut novel with my name on it.

Thank you for having me, ladies. I don’t know if I’ll be a writer in my next life, but I’m definitely coming back as a 7 ½ narrow. For more info on BEAUTIFUL DISASTER or other inane tidbits, visit my website, http://www.lauraspinella.net/.

Laura is giving away a copy of BEAUTIFUL DISASTER to one lucky Stiletto Gang reader! Just leave a comment on her post through Sunday at noon. She’ll randomly pick a winner on Sunday afternoon! Plus, if you visit her blog and post a comment any time through March, you’ll get another chance to win!