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Adams, which reminded me of a kind of eastern San Francisco. Check it out in this old postcard:. The impetus to visit Cincinnati was an invitation to do an interview on the air with the lovely Sheila Gray , Stephanie's mentor and former co-worker. Here's a still shot of us chatting in the studio. Y ou can view the full interview here! Perhaps because Sheila knows my sister, she was the first journalist to ask how having a sister affected my decision to write about orphan sisters in Berlin and the way that informed my characters' relationship.

I was really glad to get this question. Truthfully, I didn't put much initial thought into the decision to write about sisters; it just came naturally. My sister is one of the closest people to me in the world, and we're blessed with a close relationship. I think the love I feel for my sister and brother--and the tendency we all have to worry about the people we love, even if their lives aren't necessarily dangerous--gave my story the emotional weight it needed.

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Having siblings allowed me to imagine how terrified and devastated I'd be if I saw them making decisions that horrified me and that put them in real danger. Newport on the Levee is home to the Newport Aquarium, a bowling alley, movie theater, and lots of shops and restaurants. Before my signing, I had some delicious mole enchiladas at Redondo Taqueria. The weather was fantastic for January, bringing lots of shoppers outside. I had some fantastic conversations with shoppers as I signed books, especially with some aspiring writers who happened to come by.

I love speaking with people about the writing process and sharing my path to publication. When I was in the querying and submitting phase, I was hungry to hear other writers' success stories, so I'm happy to share mine now. If you're in Ohio or Kentucky, stop by and pick one up before they're gone! You can tweet at the store at BNNewportLevee to find out if copies are still available. That evening, my hostess for the weekend and I went to dinner at Metropole , a restaurant in downtown Cincinnati in the 21c Museum Hotel.

I had a Manhattan and a perfect dinner of pan-seared salmon, plus the best burnt carrot salad appetizer I've ever had. Metropole shares a space with an art gallery in the lobby of the hotel, so we got to peek at some interesting sculpture while we were waiting for our food. Metropole also has a tradition of parking a giant yellow penguin next to diners who are new to the restaurant. Here's mine. I should mention that Cincinnati has a significant German population. On a previous visit I had a fantastic, authentic Bavarian dinner at the Hofbrauhaus in Newport.

The sauerbraten that Berni gives Grete in the book--and that I attempted to replicate for my mother's book club dinner--is based on a meal I had at the Hofbrauhaus. A couple of months ago, my writing group and I went to a literary trivia pub night hosted by WBUR we came in second! One of the best questions, in my opinion, was a matching game; we were given a sheet of US book covers, then a sheet of corresponding UK covers--all without titles--and had to find the ones that went together. Well, now I get to do that with my own book. Isn't it great? If you've read the book, who do you think that blonde woman is?

I have a specific character in mind, and it might not be who you think. Would love to hear your thoughts, readers. It's available for pre-order now wherever ebooks are sold, and it's on NetGalley! Back to the dueling covers and the book cover process in general. The good people at Tyrus gave me a lot of input on my cover.

It's actually a good place to check out some of the visuals that helped inspire the book, such as this photograph Marianne Breslauer took of Annemarie Schwarzenbach:. Source: The Sartorialist. The end result felt like something we made together, which was unexpected and felt very nice. My experience with my UK book cover has been quite different--the new title and the cover were both entirely brainchildren of my editors there--they came to me for approval, but both were a surprise.

And you know what? That feels okay, too! Opening the email with my new cover in it was like receiving a present. It was really interesting to see what a different team of people in a different part of the world wanted to wrap around the same story. Also, perhaps because I'd already had such input in my first cover, I was willing to take a back seat here and wait for the finished product. One thing I'm happy about, regarding both covers, is the fact that you can see the cover ladies' faces. It may also be true that a faceless--or, often, headless--cover model allows for a bit of mystery and eliminates the possibility that the author or fans will feel the designers didn't get the character right.

But I've never been a big fan of faceless women on books, the same way I'm not crazy about the blank-eyed look a lot of background dancers take on in male music videos. Let a woman smile, wink, laugh at the camera, and she has agency. She becomes human. She may be wearing fishnets, hard to tell. It goes to show how subjective this sort of thing is; to me, it's her gaze that matters most.

To me, she's saying, "I just spent a long night selling champagne and cigarettes in this cabaret, and I need to put my feet up to rest. What's it to you? What about you--do you like book covers without faces on them, for the mystery? Do you, like me, prefer to look into a character's eyes? Do book covers matter to you, or is it all about jacket copy? Penny tuppence? Find out more here. Today I'm going to take a detour from my book tour updates to discuss a very important topic: writing the perfect query.

I'm a member of a debut novelist group called '17 Scribes. On Monday we did a Twitter chat all about the query process, taking questions from aspiring writers as well as our moderator. The chat ended with a challenge, which I accepted--post the query that landed your agent! A query is the cover letter a writer sends to a literary agent in hopes of finding representation.

Agents are entirely necessary if you plan to approach traditional publishers, even smaller indie presses--none of them will look at unsolicited manuscripts. Submissions must come from agents. And to land an agent, you write a query letter. Typically, the query includes your book's hook, a brief teaser paragraph what you might call "cover jacket copy" , a bit about why you'd like this particular agent, and a brief author bio. They're usually sent by email. Part of my job was to read about to a thousand queries each week, rejecting almost all of them.

This was incredibly demoralizing for an aspiring writer, and I couldn't do it for long, but it did help me when the time came to write my own query. This letter led to a request for the full manuscript, which led to a life-changing phone call with Shannon. It was interesting for me to return to this letter. It's like opening a time capsule. The book I describe here is somewhat different from the one that was published last month, especially the line, "her teenage daughter, Janeen, who is pregnant and planning to run away with her draft-dodging boyfriend.

My Janeen subplot, at the suggestion of several editors we pitched the book to, was significantly reduced from about a third of the book to a frame story. You can tell from this letter that Janeen's story used to be closer to the center of the plot. The query pitch kind of revolves around her. But in the end, I think it was definitely the right decision to shift the focus. The heart of the book was always in Germany. See tip 4 below to find out why I find this such a satisfying victory. Now that I've shared my letter, I'll offer a few general tips on writing the best query letter for your project.

If you have a personal connection to this agent, lead with that. You may have friends who are already represented by literary agents. By all means, ask them if you can drop their names when you query, and don't bury this information. Begin your first paragraph with, "[Author name] speaks very highly of you and suggested I contact you about my novel Remember that whoever is sorting through these emails first is reading dozens at a time.

If you make it clear that you have a mutual acquaintance, it's much more likely your query will receive further consideration and a prompt reply. Follow the agent's instructions. I can't stress this one enough. Almost every agency includes detailed querying instructions on their website; follow these to a T. Sometimes they even vary for the different agents in the office. Some will want the first five pages of the manuscript pasted in the body of the email; some will want an attachment.

Some will want only the query. If the agency will only take snail mail queries, do not hunt down an email address and email them anyway. And by all means, do NOT call to "discuss" your book. You wouldn't call a potential employer to discuss your career options. You'd send a cover letter asking for an interview, then wait.

That's what the querying process is: your letter lets them decide whether they want to request the manuscript, and their review of the manuscript is the equivalent of the interview. Personalize your letter. Why are you approaching this agent? Is it because she represents authors of historical fiction and you think you'd be a good fit for her list? Does she represent authors you admire?

Did you just love the welcoming message on her website? Say why you're querying him or her, and make sure you get the name at the top of your email correct. Mass emails or cookie-cutter messages labeled "Dear Agent" will get you nowhere. An exception to this is contained in my second tip: there will be a few agents who don't want you to waste any time, who specifically say they only want to hear about your book and you, no fluff.

There aren't many who say this, though, and I think it's best to generally personalize your letter. Read the backs of your favorite books to help you shape your pitch. Professional book designers and editors know exactly how to draw customers in with a few salacious lines. This is exactly what you need to do to get an agent's attention. Then try to replicate the same kind of language about your book.

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Still stuck? Ask a friend who is familiar with your work to help you boil it down to the essentials, the few details that make your work unique and would leave an agent wanting more. I could probably keep going, but I'll leave it there. I am always happy to hear from writers and will take query questions is that redundant anytime on Facebook, Twitter, or the contact page of this website. Here we go A warning: this part of the blog will divert from book talk frequently into food and travel territory.

The first book club I visited was at a private home, in the beautiful Highlands neighborhood in Wilmington. Quite fittingly, we were only a few blocks from Highlands Elementary School, where I spent grades one to three. There was one character in particular who sparked a serious debate about civilians' culpability in wartime. I won't reveal who it was for those of you who haven't read the book yet, but it was thrilling to witness my characters not only become real in other people's minds, but also to realize how they will live different lives inside different imaginations.

I did not get a photo of the group, but I did get one of this scrumptious black forest brownie. Our hostess served a traditional German meal: bratwurst, sauerkraut, gherkins, radishes. Here's a similar recipe if you'd like to replicate that gooey goodness. My next stop was The Summit , a brand-new retirement community in my hometown of Hockessin.

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I spoke a little and answered questions from a large group of wonderful people, many of whom had memories of their own from WWII to share. The group meets for breakfast once a week before work and consists mostly of leaders from the business community. Speaking with them was really interesting, as they had different questions than I'd answered at book club meetings, mostly about the business side of publishing and the process of finding an agent and publisher.

That same day, I took an Amtrak down to Richmond, Virginia. I chose Richmond as a stop on my book tour because I received my bachelor's degree from the University of Virginia, a fact which Cheryl Miller mentioned straight away when she interviewed me on CBS6's Virginia This Morning :. I had expected live TV to be really difficult, but I surprisingly found it much easier than speaking to a group in person.

Cheryl Miller was sweet and relaxed--and asked fantastic leading questions that made it really easy for me to speak about the book. Everyone on the set seemed so calm, you'd never have known we were live on the air. It was an awesome experience. That night I gave a reading and signed books at Chop Suey Books , a hip independent bookstore in Carytown that sells both new and used books. The management and staff there were wonderful and even kept the store open a little late for me when my event ran over.

Thank you, Chop Suey! Far and away, the highlight of my trip to Richmond was getting to see so many friends. My soon-to-be stepbrother lives in Richmond, and he, a friend of my husband's from college, and TEN lovely women from my sorority at UVA Delta Gamma came out to support me.

Afterward almost all of us went to The Daily for scrumptious cocktails and organic, local, healthy food. It was one of the best nights I've had in a long time. Thank you so much, girls. Before I move on to my final stop in Delaware, here are a few more things I did in Virginia. I had a latte and pastry at Can Can Brasserie in Carytown:. Next to Home Sweet Home, I even found a gift shop specializing in German figurines, so that I could bring a German gift home to my mother as a thank-you for watching my daughter. I stayed in an Airbnb in Carytown, and I should add that everything I've mentioned except for the CBS station was within walking distance of my room.

I highly recommend Carytown in Richmond if you're looking for a walkable, vibrant place to visit. Finally it was time to head home and meet with my mother's book club in Hockessin. Here's her cozy setup, complete with champagne. Doesn't this just make you want to dive right in and start discussing literature? For dinner, we made sauerbraten using this recipe , which we served with spaetzle, sauerkraut, pickles, and various German sides brought by members of the book club such as green beans and beet salad. My soon-to-be stepfather's sister brought an exceptionally fudgy German chocolate cake.

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On the book club page of my website, I offer a menu centered around schnitzel--which is based on a meal Sonje and Berni share on Unter den Linden--but sauerbraten also makes an appearance in the book. I may add it to the book club page, as it turned out really good and wasn't terribly hard to make. That about wraps it up for the mid-Atlantic leg of my little book tour. Up next: Cincinnati Thank you so much to everyone who shared, liked, reviewed, purchased, or showed my book some love yesterday!

Official release dates for books are somewhat arbitrary. Amazon started shipping paperbacks a few days after Christmas, hardcovers a bit later, and ebook pre-orders automatically delivered on January 1. We've also hosted two parties to celebrate the book's birthday: a solstice cabaret in the Boston area pre-holidays, and a release party in Wilmington, DE my hometown last Friday night.

Our solstice cabaret happened at Aeronaut Brewing Co. The longest night of the year is a good time to party. Johnny Blazes and the Pretty Boys ' "genre-bending, gender-bending, tongue-in-cheek" performance brought the house down and perfectly complemented the theme of our evening and the brief reading I gave from the book:. After the new year I flew down to Delaware to celebrate the book's release in my hometown of Wilmington.

I think the best part of publishing a book is going to be seeing friends I haven't had much chance to see in a long time. I was deeply touched by how many of the people I grew up with--and their parents!

There's no place like home. After signing books I was starving, and his pork dumplings hit the spot. The past few weeks have been really exciting. I've begun to hear feedback from readers--many friends and family, but also some strangers, which is a surreal feeling. Berni and Grete, who lived for so long as characters in my head and in an MS Word doc on my computer are now living in other people's minds. From what I hear, they've even been popping up in some dreams. I'm still in Delaware and visited my first book club last night!

Later this week and throughout the winter, I plan to blog my book tour, highlighting my favorite stops in each city I'm visiting. This week I have one more book club to visit and a rotary club meeting here in Wilmington, and then I'm headed to Richmond for a few days. You can view the full schedule of events here. I hope you enjoy the excerpt, available here:. This is an especially happy occasion for me because, as many of you know, I worked as the Administrative Coordinator of the Creative Writing Program at BU for nearly four years and was the managing editor of for issues 3, 4, and 5.

The New Books issue includes:. For my mother's birthday last year, my sister and I bought her a genealogy test. When she was little and would wear green on St. Patrick's Day, the women who worked in her school's cafeteria fawned over her and her red pigtails, calling her a "sweet little Irish girl. We weren't sure if there would be a surprise in her DNA. There are, after all, blond- and red-haired Italians. Case in point:. Bronzino's portrait of Lucrezia Panciatichi, currently on display in the Uffizi Gallery. She bears more than a passing resemblance to mia madre.

It's many people's first question when they find out I've written a novel about Germany. Little do they know, I wonder the same thing. We never identified as German growing up. Based on our great-grandparents' nationalities, my siblings and I identified as three-quarters Italian, one-eighth Irish, and one-eighth Hungarian.

Therefore I didn't begin writing about Germany because I felt a descendant's claim to the story. There is some family lore that helped shape Fraulein M. More on that in a future post. The inspiration to write about Germany came from art, not family history. A visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art's "Glitter and Doom" exhibit of Weimar portraiture in is what led me to begin exploring Weimar Berlin's freedom, decadence, and violence.

More on that soon, too. I didn't realize until I was well into writing the book that I may in fact have some German blood.

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He and I have wondered if the reason we hadn't heard much about these German ancestors was that in the first half of the 20th century wasn't a good time to be German in the United States. I'll post again when I get the results of my genealogy test. What about you--have you had your DNA tested? Were you at all surprised by the results? Recently I lay awake at night pondering such important questions as, "How much would Lieutenant Dan and Forrest's Apple stock be worth today?

Fortunately my thoughts soon drifted to material more relevant to this blog: what were the books that made me want to write historical fiction? Without overthinking it, I compiled my favorites, and came up with a list of six. Many of them are also told from multiple points of view and jump back and forth from the present to the past. Turns out it's because that's my favorite kind of book to read. I'm cheating a little, because this one isn't entirely historical, but it's the first book I recommend to friends.

Alma, a young girl, and Leo, an old man, live in modern-day New York; Alma misses her father and struggles to connect with her mother, and Leo just wants anyone to notice he's still alive. The sections that occur in the Poland of Leo Gursky's youth--where he wrote a book, also titled The History of Love --are so vivid and romantic. Nicole Krauss receives a lot of praise for her richly textured prose, but it was her sense of humor that really stood out to me in this novel.

A scene at the top of the Empire State Building! I love everything Michael Chabon has written, especially this epic saga of a Jewish teenager with Houdini-level skills who escapes from Prague to build a comic book empire with his American cousin. The geek in me especially loves the voice Chabon uses in this novel's footnotes. This is one of the few books I return to over and over again.

After World War I, Mathilde, a young Frenchwoman, learns her fiance was tossed over the barbed wire by his own superiors as punishment for shooting himself in the hand. A bleak beginning, for sure, but after Mathilde a plucky, delightful heroine learns he might have survived, what follows is as compelling a mystery as I've read.

I've never read anything quite like The Blind Assassin 's blend of history, romance, sci-fi, and mystery. Admittedly I grew weary sometimes in the middle of Atwood's classic, but this book's ending is so devastatingly perfect, shedding light on every page that came before. The wonderful Geraldine Brooks's debut. Year of Wonders is a bit of an outlier on this list--as noted, it's not a twentieth-century novel.

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It takes place during the plague of , in an English hamlet that chooses to isolate itself rather than spread the disease. She rushed into a sexual relationship, one where she's the submissive yet again, really soon after being divorced from a controlling, creepy older husband. Yes, Buck's a much nicer guy than her ex-husband, but why the rush to have another relationship when she could use some time to understand herself better?

My overall personal rating of Sweet Caroline is a C. Labels: Blue Jeans and Hard Hats series erotic romance. The guy on the cover is creeping me out - those veins look like they're ready to burst. February 27, at PM. Medical Librarian said…. How sad is this? I didn't really look closely enough at the cover until reading your comment.