Friends & Fiction
Friends & Fiction

Episode · 1 year ago

Friends and Fiction with The Fab 5

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

The Friends & Fiction authors discuss their failures, how they've overcome them, and what inspires them to keep writing. www.friendsandfiction.com 

Welcome to friends and fiction. Five best selling authors, Endless Stories, Friends and Fiction is a podcast with five bestselling novelist whose common love of reading, writing an independent bookstores found them together with jets, author interviews and fascinating insider talk about publishing and writing. Thes friends discuss the books they've written, the books they're reading now and the art of storytelling. If you love books and you're curious about the writing world, you're in the right place. Bestselling novelist Mary Kay Andrews, Christine Harmel, Christie Woodson, Harvey Patty Callahan, Henry and Mary Alice Munro are five longtime friends with more than 80 published books. To their credit at the Start of the Pandemic, they got together for a virtual happy hour to talk about their books, their favorite bookstores writing, reading and publishing in this new, uncharted territory. They're still talking, and they've added fascinating discussions with other bestselling novelists, so join them live on their friends and fiction. Facebook Group page every Wednesday at 7 p.m. Eastern, or listen and view later at your leisure. Hello, everyone, and welcome to Friends in Fiction, our weekly Facebook live show featuring author chats in support of independent bookstores. Five best selling authors. Endless stories. Our community of readers here on friends and fiction has grown today to 17,000 members. Way could not be happier to welcome you here tonight, so let's get started. We have so much to talk about tonight. I'm Patty Callahan, Henry and I'm your host tonight, and my latest book is becoming Mrs Lewis. Hi, I'm Mary Alice Munro, and my latest novel is on Ocean Boulevard and I'm Mary Kay Andrews, and my latest novel is Hello Summer. I'm Christine Harmel, and my latest novel is the book of last names. I'm Christi Woodson Harvey and my latest focus feels like falling. And this is friends and fiction, and we are so happy that you're here tonight. As you can see, it's just the five of us. And it's not just because the five of us are the original posse who got together at the very beginning of the pandemic to start this show, and we're here tonight to talk to each other and answer some of the fascinating questions you all sent in this week. And at the end of tonight's episode, Mary Alice will be announcing our fall schedule and you all. You do not want to miss this. We had no idea what was going to become this show and wait till you hear about our guests. But before we get rolling, everyone, I want to remind you that every week we feature an independent bookseller, and this week we're working with one of my very favorites, Page and palate in Fair Hope, Alabama. This store has actually showed up in one of my novels coming up for air, and I disguised the town and the bookstore with a different name. But anyone who has been a fair hope or anyone who has been to page palate will know that that's who it is. This store is an anchor in this beautiful waterfront city, and it is a bookstore that his family owned for generations as their logo states. There's a story here, and they don't just mean the books. They built a welcoming, wonderful environment for authors and readers, and some of my favorite events over the years have been a page and palate. Tonight they will be giving us a 10% discount on all of our releases and new releases, and you can find them on the friends and fiction page under announcements, and I'll repost it after we finished tonight. So here's my favorite part. Ladies, we're gonna be...

...talking tonight, so I have some really great questions for everyone. And as everyone knows, if you of us have been writing sprints together in the morning, and we've been kind of lifting each other up during this really difficult time and encouraging each other as we write our books and we come on this show and we talk so much about our triumphs because there is nothing better than celebrating after a long slog of writing and publishing horrors. But our listeners and you all out there don't always see the downturns and the hard parts, and it's not because we're hiding them, but because we celebrate the good stuff. So there is a fantastic essay by one of my favorite writers who is passed on Nora Ephron, and it's this essay about failure, and even the title is hilarious because she's hilarious and it's called flops. I have a few. This is the woman who wrote Sleepless in Seattle. When Harry she has huge hits, you wouldn't think she had flops, and there's a quote in that essay that says that that flop just sits there in the history of your life, like a black hole with a wildly powerful magnetic fields. And she's being sarcastic, invest, but true at worst, because we can have 1000 wonderful things happen. But failure still sits there with a magnetic field, and there is no way to have a full literary career without failure and rejection. So I want to talk to each of you about that. Is there one moment of failure that almost derailed you from this writing career? Or one failure, insult or negative comment that could have done made you quit but and said, Did the opposite in spurred You onward? For me there were many. But, for example, I was secretly writing about 20 years ago, and this is way before the Internet way. Before I knew that there were book clubs or book groups, I didn't know any writers, and I entered a contest for Writer's Digest and I got my square sheet back and it told me that my writing was dull, dreary, dark and depressing. I memorized it. I memorized it s o. I felt like there was an elevator in the middle of my gut that just limited. And I did quit for a little bit until I didn't. So I want to hear about those things for you. Mary Kay. Well, you know, I was a journalism major in college and worked in newspapers, and I was a reporter for the Atlanta Journal Constitution. And I had been, um, working in the features department, But I wanted to go back to news. And so I went to the managing editor of the paper at the time. And at first I had gone to my features editor. He said, No, no, you can't. You know you can't move. S O e said Okay, I'm gonna go to your boss. I went to his boss and he looked at me and he said, um, you don't understand. We need really writers in news who are not a riel writer. You have no discernable style. You need Thio. My God. Wow. Hey, said you need thio. Just understand that you are, um, as a reporter. Your your your mediocre and you'll never That would be a writer. And so, of course, um he had...

...he wanted to keep me in the department I was in, Uh, but I was devastated, Just devastated. I went. I went home in tears. I cried every day for weeks, and I went to the man who had hired May and said, Um and this guy was He was sort of a mentor to me at the paper, and I told him what Eddie had said to me, and he said, That is not true. You're You're one of the best writers I've ever hired. You have a great career ahead of you and don't listen to him. And so I decided I wrote myself a little mantra that I would recite every day. They don't get to define me. They don't get Thio, put their foot on my neck. And I would you know, that was I would chant it when I drove home every day. Cry every day. Oh, pager Jews, you know, But but the thing is that it spurred me. It made me understand that there was not going to be a place I was not gonna have the career I wanted in journalism. I've already started thinking about trying to write fiction and that and that really kind of hastened my decision that it was time to go, Um, that I was never going to get, you know, that that other people were going to keep me from from having the career I wanted. So I thought, OK, I'll reinvent myself. So that's what I did e you're sending? I was gonna say I e hope you're sending Eddie every, uh, every New York Times bestseller, E. It was interesting people. It's interesting, Christian. People will tell me that whenever I tell that story and I tell it a lot, um, he doesn't have to know because I know you're absolutely right. Your abs. And you know what? Maybe he was meant to be there to put you on that. The path you're on, right? That's exactly right. Hey, did me a favor, but I feel like we should We should take that quote. You don't get to define me and makes them stickies out of it. And, like, what makes me it makes me think of that other quote. Don't let the turkeys get you down, you know, because he's obviously a turkey. He was obviously protecting his own turf. And he saw you. He probably saw your talent And just and also, you know, women have had a particularly hard time in journalism. Yeah, all right. Kristen are good story. Yeah, you know, mine is actually sort of similar. But it was It was during my novel writing career, so I started off writing chick lit. Um, my first book came out in 2006. I had written it in 3 4004. It was very much the height of No. Bridget Jones's Diary in The Devil Wears Prada and those types of books. It was that type of book. Um, and I had fun writing those, but it wasn't e Don't think it was where I belonged. I don't think it was everywhere I belonged. I think what I'm doing now is where I belong. And right around the time I turned 30 which was a little over a decade ago, I think, you know, I had just grown up to the point where I was able to say, like, this is where I want to go When I had the courage to say it. So I came up with the idea for the sweetness of forgetting, which ended up being my 2012 book, and I wrote a very full outline and put it, Pitched it to my literary agent at the time. And, um, she called and said, No, this is not a Christian Harmel book. And I said, Okay, okay. I understand. And you know, she said, it's not on brand. And I, you know, I have to really explain, like I had no brand because did any of you know I was writing chick lit? It was I was not. It was I was not some huge, bestselling, chick lit author, but still, I understood what she was saying. And I said, Okay, you know, I'm okay with doing a pseudonym. We can, you know, just start from scratch. We can, But this is what I want to be doing. I don't see myself continuing to write...

...chick lit. I want to write historical fiction. Um, and she said, quite frankly, I just don't think you can um, Bond. Um and she was a crispy. I wish. Everybody. I hope everybody is looking at Christie's Space E. Yeah, it was. So she was I don't really have any negative feelings for her because because I she was a great agent. Um, but kind of like the story you just told Mary Kay I needed that push. I needed that push, because if she had this said, Yeah, go ahead. Sure. We'll see what we can come up with, and we'll try to sell it. Um, I don't think I would have been a motivated. Um, but as it waas, I had to make a decision. Do I keep doing what I'm doing? Or do I follow my heart? And I chose to follow my heart, and I left that agent, which was so unsettling. I mean, if you're in this business and you don't and you're in the middle of your career and you don't have an agent, that's not a great thing. Um, but, uh, but it worked out. Okay, that book before it came out, even had done better than all my previous six books combined. So I guess it turns out I could do it. E mean, I just feel like there's always that one comment, like the dull, dreary, dark and depressing that makes you say, Am I going to believe it or, um, I going to prove them wrong? And Mary Kay, What you're not good enough or you can't do it. Um, we either believe it or we say, Okay, I'm going to do the double down and I'm gonna prove you're wrong. But it's one that's the biggest difference when it's someone who's in a position of authority over you or someone who's who's taste and opinion you really respect. It's not just Joe Schmo writing an Amazon comment or something, you know what I mean? Like if someone whose opinion you trust Yeah, unfortunately, this editor, I knew he didn't know what he was talking about. You're right, because for me, it was a judge for you. It was an agent for you. It was a boss, So Okay, Christie Woodson, Harvey straight. Um, you know, I don't even know that I was gonna tell the story now that you told jurors and it was so great. And it reminded me of like you do remember those words I had signed with a literary agent who was representing me for a book that I read before Dear Carolina, which ended up being my debut novel. And they submitted Dear Carolina to to writing contests because they both had final round judges that were editors that I knew were people that I wanted to work with. But, you know, you had to be like one of the top three or whatever for the editor to read your manuscript. It was kind of a long shot, but I thought, I'll just keep opening doors while my agents over here working and and so I get my scoresheet back. It's the first feedback I've ever gotten on Dear Carolina and one of the judges I had written the book and second person, which is we all know, is like kind of a no no, but it just it worked for the story. So she wrote this long thing, telling me why I couldn't do it, and said that the story was uncomfortably voyeuristic. I'll never forget what, and I have to have to think about that for a minute, right? I guess, because you were like seeing into these two mothers telling the story to their child. I don't know, I don't know. But I was crushed and I thought what, you took this risk and I shouldn't have done this, and this was a terrible idea, and like I just wasted all this time writing this book, and I thought it was so, you know, I thought it was gonna be this really great. But about two weeks later, um, the Chiefs came back from the second contest that I had entered, and I had won the contest and the final round. Judge was an editor at Penguin, and she bought the booth. That's the best end. One person, uncomfortably voyeuristic, is another person's book deal. I'm sorry. That judge reminds me a little bit of a one star wonder on Amazon, right? No, but I mean, it was...

...just but But it is in that moment when you're so you just you don't know. And I was definitely coming from a place of like, I went to journalism school, But I also did a lot of creative writing. And I remember, like, I would look around the classroom and we would be that reading our stuff and it would be like, I'm just not like everybody else. Like I'm not writing, you know, they were all writing is, like, really dark, twisty stories. And I wasn't, you know, and I was and I remember I would always think like I can't be a writer because these people sound like real writers and I'm not like them. And it was just like one more. It was just one more thing saying You're not a real writer and then I mean, it ended up okay, But we all have this knowledge. People just I don't know that some people really don't understand that a good critique doesn't mean find something To be critical about a good critique is to find something that is good, that you want to be encouraging. They're just they just can be really nasty. And I I think some reviewers to out there just find a way of being particularly nasty. And it's like their calling card. And I just think, What a waste of air and space. Well, we all look at the things we read through our own lens or mirror, and to be cruel with whether it's in a liberation with all the D words you can think of, or calling something voyeuristic doesn't help anybody right? Taking somebody else down a couple of pegs doesn't help you or that person. And so Okay, Mary else I want to hear your story. What is like the one thing that could have derailed you or the one insult that you took it the opposite and ran with it. It's a little different than yours, because I really, you know, well, I've been listening to you. I can identify with each of your stories. There's a similar one for me, but the one that really almost derailed me completely was nothing to do with anything. People said it was my own health, you know, It was I was hemorrhaging, and I, before that I had was in a writer's group and with friends and people were getting published ahead of me and I wasn't in a hurry. I mean, I wanted to cross the line, but I was a young mother at the time, sort of like y'all down in the lower corners there, and I, you know, I had time. But I also knew was going to take time. So I find it, wrote a book called The Long Road Home, which my family calls the Long Road to Publication. And it was finally picked up and it was supposed to be ah, big launch hardcover from, and I won't say the publishers name from a major publisher, and this was 19 nineties. So it would have been really early in my career really would have set me off for my first novel. And there was this huge upset, as sometimes happens, as all of you know, in publishing houses where my editor was fired, who was a big editor and big shakeup of the whole publishing house. I was not out, but I was on hold. Like I I was an orphan in the publishing house. So if that wasn't bad enough, I started. And maybe it was emotional. I don't know. I started to hemorrhage and truly sick, life threatening, life threatening. So it was. And my health has never been all that great. So this was one of the times that I got truly sick and I remember coming out of it after about six months, thinking I waited so long to cross the line to publication, you know, you just wanted across the line, and everyone would say to me things that I say to people like, you know, you're still a writer, whether you're published or not. And I knew that, but you want across well, you want to get published so This was my big deal, and suddenly it just I was on hold. So I remember thinking maybe this wasn't...

...meant to be. Maybe I go back to teaching. I love teaching and I should just do it. And I started applying for teaching jobs, and it was literally I had. It was two weeks before I had to sign a contract and I was just hemming and hawing and waiting, and we heard that the book was coming out in from hardcover to mass market horrible cover. But I was in the game. E was in the game, and so I it's sold. It got published and, you know, the rest is history. But I remember thinking at that time that there was something inside of me where I knew this was it. Yeah, this was what I wanted to do with my calling, and I saw it. I mean, you all know you just saw I'm going to be a writer and it's just no matter how it happens or how long it takes, it's gonna happen. But I think you get beaten down to a point or even health, where you sometimes think either. How many rejections can I take or how much? How much? How many more years? Um, I going to put into this effort. But that line that I wanted to cross the line, you know you're right or whether you're published or not. I think I actually really understood it because I knew I was going to keep writing. If that book didn't get published, I was gonna write another and another and another not just to get published, but because I couldn't stop because you were a writer because I was a writer. Yeah, which which is that whole being in the arena things? So there's this fantastic quote. We've all heard it burn a brown, have the book daring greatly. It's by Roosevelt and he says who with the best snows in the end, the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails by daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither no victory nor defeats. And so, ladies, we have been in the arena, man, we have done it. So how do you do it? How do you stay inspired? How do you stay in the arena. What keeps you creative? What keeps you going, Mary Kay, Tell us. You know, um, I think part of it is, um I write commercial fiction, and we all right, really right. Commercial fiction, I think, Um and so I write a book a year, and this is my job. And I have to keep filling up the creative well and so reading good books, watching television, getting out in the world. And, um, you know, it's a matter of habit for me, so someone will say something, and I think I can use that in a book. I'll steal that. I mean, we're terrible thieves. Riders are horrible. We're just selling. Uh, we're liars too, I always say, Like especially, I'm meeting new people. I'm like, Look, if you don't want it in a book, do because because you get to the point where you can't remember. Like, did someone say that or is it just your hat? Yeah. So I think I think for me, it's, um it's sort of ingrained now, ingrained part of my habit of being so you know, I'll be out and I'll see something. And, uh, and what happens usually is, I'll see something the way it happened. And then I think, Well, what if it had happened this way? You know what? If you know what if she's...

...backing out of the parking lot at church and she rear ends the new minister, I don't know. Um, so and I think e o I you know that that's that's the only thing I know and and being out in the world and and I'll tell you Realistically, um, I'm ashamed to say it. It turns out I'm competitive on and I can't stand the idea that I don't have a book coming out and I want each book to be better. I want to get I want my writing to get better with every book. I've never I've never been satisfied with the book after after it's come out, and so that's part of it, the the elusive idea that you know, if I keep going, maybe I'll get better. Maybe I'll be ableto pull it off. That's such a powerful statement, because I think it's it's very inspiring to that. I haven't written my best book yet. It's still coming. That's so great. I love it, and I don't think we could keep doing what we are doing. If we didn't have a little competitive edge because, yes, it's about creativity. But it's also about writing better and then better and then stretching our limits and doing a little bit more. And that's one. Okay, So, Christian Harmel, how do you do it? How do you stay in the arena? What keeps you going? When half the time we get knocked down and bloodied and have to stand back up. What keeps you going? Honestly, right now, the four of you. Seriously? I mean, this has been, um I would say that right around the time we were starting friends and fiction, it was the the worst. My writing life been in a long time just because I, um you know, I was really struggling. We were It was sort of the beginning of this pandemic. My everything had changed. You know, I went from having a 20 hour work week to having a zero hour work because I have my my child home with me. Um and, uh, it was it was you guys. You, the four of you taught me there was a way forward. Um you made me want to show up. You made me feel inspired. And then, um you know, this community that that were a part of this friends and fiction community knowing that all these readers were out there and they were so kind and encouraging. I'm just, um, this book I'm working on now. And I bet you that the four of you have the same the same opinion about it. Um, it feels it feels different to me because I'm I'm interacting with readers in a way that I haven't before. Um, and I feel supported by readers every single day in a way that I haven't before and that making me feel inspired as a writer but also really inspired to deliver the absolute best book Aiken deliver because I want to I want to give, like, these people who are showing up for me like I want to show up for them. Um, but but bottom line that the four of you you've I mean thank you. You've changed my writing life, and I, um I can't imagine it without, you know, O s. So now we need some Kleenex. E Think all five of us would say the exact same thing for sure. I think that the the I said it in an instagram post when you know somebody is going to ask, Did you do it today? You want to be able to tell the truth, right? So that's one way. So okay, Christie Woodson. Harvey, how do you do it? How do you e mean? And there is no way, I mean, truly I There's no way that I would be in the position that I am right now having my 2022 book almost ready for action if it weren't for you all. And there's no way and I do agree. I mean, I think Prince and fiction for sure, but just the reader community at large and like yesterday I announced it under the southern sky is coming out April 20th 2021. And when you see those,...

...like when people come on and they're like, I can't wait, I'm so excited it does. It drives you in a way that you can experience on your own, because you do. Absolutely. You don't only want to be better for yourself, but you want to be better for every person out there who took $17 that they could have spent on something else and spend it on your book like it drives you in a way that you want to give them the best experience that you can. Um, and I think writer's air different than what I thought like and I look at all of you and I think it's something that we have in common and we've sort of touched on it. But I do think that we all have. I don't know if even a competitive streak is the right term, but we're all very driven to succeed. So even if that competition is just with ourselves, we're all very driven toward that next thing. And I think I have pictured writers is being like a lot on. I'm sure a lot of them are. But I don't think we're like that, you know, I think we're all like more words. Next page a cover, other people, more readers, you know, we're all just like we're in it and I think it does drive you when you when when you know that people enjoy what you do and makes you want to be better, and it makes you want to keep doing it. And Christie, it's what we keep talking about. It's not just that it's that Andi Kathy Mary Kay Andrews says it best. All float. All boats rise if we're doing it together, right eye poking holes in the boat of some. So them are boat rises together when we're okay. Mary Alice Munro, How do you the problem is coming last is I could just say yeah, what they said, Okay, next question. Your e mean, honestly, it's all true. And I think I think what's interesting and that maybe the readers can are the viewers today can identify with is that all of us have had to deal with Pandemic and being alone and being, you know, a wary of going out, not seeing each other in person, not seeing you out there. And I I do feel that, um, inspiration has been easy to find in some ways, like we had a show in one of our earlier shows about how each one of us are. Some of us are doing poetry in the morning, reading more books, different ways to individually and then, of course, our friends and fiction, and I just feel that it's really important to carry that on after pandemic, just to remember, to find ways to be inspired every day and to not slip into maybe patterns that we were able to eliminate as our schedules changed that what are the best new things we're doing, and can we sustain them? So perhaps that's the inspiration for the future. And I think also, when we're talking Thio, you know, whoever's listening out, there s so we're not to be able to see you. Well, you see us t translate it. I think it's a little bit about y'all finding the people who support you, right? Because that's one of the ways that we stay inspired us by having people who support us and instead of and meshing yourself with people who are trying to dragging you down, Why don't you get tangled up with people who lift you up? I eat these women. Okay, So another idea that seems so glamorous in theory is book tour, right? Every time an author is on TV, Did you all see the affair? Did you all watch that show? Uh, a couple. Not the whole story. Good. Oh, my gosh. I'm obsessed with Ruth Wilson. But anyway, you know he's author and he has a book come out and he has an entourage who goes on book tour with him and all these shows about authors. They have an entourage, and I know that at least the entourage was my Children. So yeah,...

...exactly. So what? I'll go for double dare you because I'll go first. When I first had a book out, it's called Losing the Moon is 2000 and four and I was asked to speak at a luncheon. I mean, this is a long time ago and I was in the ladies room and I was in the stall and her two women talking about me outside. Yes, so now I'm gonna do what they say. Oh, they were like she's I mean, this is a long time ago. She's too young. Who does she think she is? Why is she had our talk today? Why is she lecturing us? Who does she e was, But it's like something out of a sex in the city. I love that you came out and wave because in the TV show they're always like hiding in the stall And I'm like, Sure you I would be like Oh, Class E smiled and I walked out. I didn't say work and like for about a month, I kept thinking of what I could have said in the It's the worst. It's the worst that Z about writing books is We get Thio, think about it for a week and then have the exact right come back. So I want to hear about some of your book tour, most embarrassing book tour stories, and we're gonna go backwards. Mary Alice. Well, I had a hard time. There've been so many e o have to pick one and I'm gonna try and tell the story without, like getting myself soon because I won't name the author's name. But it was early on. It was when I know this one, you do. So I can't say that everyone knows the author too. So I was when the beach house came out, and you have to understand that it was my first New York Times hit and I was driving from store to store with my entourage, my sister Ruth, see who was driving me for free from store to store to store and I got to one. After I made the times of suddenly things opened up and they put a dump, which is that rack of books in the front of the store. And, you know, the managers would actually show up and have flowers out for me. So it was a big deal, So I waas in. I won't even say the name of the town coastal town in Florida. And it was the hometown of, unbeknownst to me, of this particular author at a book coming out in the future of a similar title. And it was the exact same title. It was the exact same. I remember because they were sea turtles and I had I was supposed to speak. It wasn't just a signing. I was supposed to speak to the volunteers, and I invited my brother in law and his mother, who we called her my aunt. So I show up and you know you're in trouble when you get to the parking lot and it's dark. There are no cars anywhere, so you walk in and you get to the front window. It no sign nothing and I walk in and maybe one or two people in the store and two other people my aunt and my brother in law, who came to see the famous author and I could see this in their eyes like Poor Mary. What a loser and I walk in on I'm totally confused. This was my big deal that I was so excited about, and I the assistant manager I flagged. And I said, Hi, I'm Mary Alice Munro. And where my books I'm supposed to do a presentation tonight to a group of turtle volunteers. Oh, I don't know. We'll make this work and he pull the table out on me, grabbed a couple of dusty books of the...

...boxes and put him on, and I'm sitting there and I'm good soldier and I'm signing the six books that he had, and I finally said After a while, you know my aunt. You know, I signed one for her and one for my brother in law, and I said to the assistant manager, I said, You know, I was supposed to speak tonight what happened, and he kind of did. Particular author came into the store and had seen of the book, the dump and the signs for this presentation had a hissy fit and he said, You know, take it all down. This is my home store. Get rid of it. The manager did, which was, You know, I can't think of many store managers I know today who would have done it. So anyway, I signed the six and after, like, a half hour, I said, Well, I guess I could go. So yeah, so Ruthie drove me to be, but he was a Marriott and I just got I went to the bar and they were closing down and I said, I need a drink on I had seen sex in the city, which was really popular. I want a cosmopolitan on, he said. And I told him my story. He gave me, like, a 16 hour a Styrofoam cup with a straw, and I went out. I'm drinking my my drink, and I went out to the pool and I got halfway across the pool and I started going under. I knew I was that Cosmo started hitting because it was on a empty stomach. Eso I came back, it really pulled me in, and I think I emptied the contents of my stomach For most of the night, I thought I was going to die. And all I know is I never believed that was my big night. My first big night. And it was just the most horrible that someone would do that to anyone else that would just take their moment away. So I That's one for the books. Yeah, Let's say his name. Him. How about you, Christie? Um, minus similar. So when my first book had come out, you know, I was very careful. Like I knew. Obviously, I've never run a bug. No, I've never heard of me. I mean, I wasn't gonna have big events. So Onley booked events in places where I had friends that would, like rally their friends or family or people I could stay with, because, I mean, I think I had, like, I mean, it was the tiniest book tour budget ever and which I was thrilled to have any book tour budget. So I'm not complaining, but but I thought, you know, but a store about an hour from where I live asked me to do an event, and I was like, Sure, Absolutely. And it was a Barnes and Noble and, um, I picture and I have done some other Barnes and Noble events, and they would sort of set a table up in the front of the store. And I would, you know, I would say hello to people when they walked in, and I'd usually sell a few books and signed some stock. And that was great. Like, it was a great day for me at that time. So I'm going to this town and I don't know anyone there, so I don't have anyone to invite. I have no friends, but I'm just assuming I'm gonna go sit at the table. So I get to the store and I go up to the counter and I say, I'm Christi. What's in Harvey? I'm here for a book signing, and they're like, Oh, good, you're going to be speaking back here, and it s so it's one of exploring the nobles that has one of those huge event areas, and I go back there, there's one woman sitting in a chair and they're like, 60 chairs set up, and I'm like, Oh, my God, I don't know anyone. No one's gonna sit and they start wheeling these boxes of books out. Oh, my God. The worst thing that ever happened to me. But it was fine. I got through it. And, you know, we all have to do it. But there are moments of glory and there too. So they balance, right? Yeah, but there's all we all have. That story...

...when we went into one person and what I always do is go sit down and just skip Just talk to the person E people. Yeah, I would have done that knowing what I know now. But, you know, at the time, I think there ended up being like three people there. And if that happened to me today, I would just sit with those three people and we chit chat, and it would be fine. But then I didn't know what to do. So I felt like I had to stand up there and, like, speak behind the rodeo E. It was bad. Okay, Christine Harmel, you haven't least one. I know you dio So for one of my early books, um, back in the mid two thousands, um, I was all you know, like I am now wheeling and dealing in China, you know, figure out how to do this. And And I had gotten a liquor sponsor for my book tour, meaning that they would, you know, they were going to provide the liquor, and we're going to do, like, a special I drink. And, um, they came to me the liquor sponsor and said, You know what? We love this. We want to throw you a party at the W Hotel in New York. I think it was the one in Union Square. I can't remember anymore. Um, but so I was so excited. I brought this to my publisher. We had the whole thing. I flew up there with my friends and my sister and my aunt, like just a bunch of people. Um, you know, we're gonna have this big launch party at the W. We were walking in, and I get a call on my cell phone. Um, and it's the liquor sponsor saying, unfortunately, they're withdrawing their support. Um, it was it was maybe an hour and a half before they were no longer gonna pick up the bar bill. So they had already paid, like, whatever. Like room reservation feed, like, you know, book this event space of the W um but so this was one of my early books. I did not My my early books. There's I mean, I could not have supported myself writing the book. My book contracts, my advances were 15,000, like 15 15,000. And that, plus my magazine job like that was I didn't have any money, you know what I mean? It wasn't like I could just be like, Oh, yes, Well, the bar bill for everybody know. So after saying to the publisher like, Look, I'm having a party at the W. And they were like, Yea, I have to go toe should be like, Would you mind picking up the bar? Bill E. You win? It was horrible. We only the only the only choice of beverage was the cheapest thing on their event that you wish was like some cheap white wine. You could have white wine or you could have water, and I spent the entire party like just trying not to cry. Thio. Okay. Do you all out there see what we go through like you win way? Really care if you right way Just that one star review to put us back in our place. We're already have already been put already here. Their place? Yeah. Way, way have been humiliated over and over again. I can't tell you how many times I sat in a group like back in borders. When you have you talked in the food section and you'll be up there with your mic and you'd be like, Hi, everybody People like like maybe you just want to start reading, Feeling nothing more than feeling okay. Mary Kay. Oh, God. So many an early book tour. Um, I was doing something with my son before I went on the road, and I got to think I was in Washington, D c. And I had pinkeye. Yeah, my I was, like, oozing and red and school. And I had to wear dark glasses. No one would get near me. Then there was a time I was at a Christmas festival in this little small town, and I was the luncheon speaker. And during lunch I started my stomach started rumbling and I started feeling really hot. I got a stomach bug. The thank God. I don't know how I got...

...through it. I did, but the I had to say to my they had somebody the festival organizers had had somebody, um, you know, assigned to help me Thio, you know, get me back. And I just said we were supposed to do have some others. I said, get me to my hotel. Yeah, gonna end up going out and getting me medicine. Um, I did ah, signing at a chain bookstore in a dead mall. Um, it was their last night. They were open. And I mean, the whole mall. Oh, you could imagine that was Oh, yeah, back when Walden Books was still around in the mall and they used to always put your table right smack in the almost in the hallway. You young and might not remember this, but they clearly literally as I was leaving the store 30 minutes after the start of the signing, they were literally turning out the marquee lights on. And then there was the signing at another chain store in Savannah. Mind you where I had set, you know, four books and I was at ah, chain and I got there and they said, Here's the community relations person. CRC asked for them, and they said, no, she's she laughed. She's gone. And so the assistant manager said, Okay, well, you're back there at a table. No sign, nothing. But I had, you know, people in Savannah who are fans who came to the store and I signed the books. But I literally I was, you know, doing it all myself. There was no one helping me. And about 15 minutes before I was, the signing was to be over. The assistant manager came back, and, uh, you know, I had my new hardback, but they also had my and they also had my my mass market paperback back my backlist. And while I was sitting there, she started ripping the covers off for those of you mass market paper, mauler size paperback books and so publishers. You having stores, send them back to them. They rip the covers off the books, going a dumpster, and the bookstore sends back the covers to get a to get a credit for it. So she was basically ripping my books in front of me, saying We're not going to sell any of these. I don't know. She might win on that one. That's the bar bill. No, no, the bar bill is already in New York. I'm not gonna be able to sleep tonight thinking about that the bar bills for find it. Okay, we've gotta We've got it. Okay? We've got to cleanse the palate with some good things. So good. Kristen, will you remind us really quick at the bookstore of the week? Because sure, Yeah, absolutely. It's It's page and palate. Fair Hope, Alabama. It's a favorite of readers and authors alike. They're offering you 10% off our new releases through the page link that Patty has posted on the friends and Fiction Facebook group page under announcements so easy to go, they're easy to click. And we all have new releases that hopefully would interest you. So we have been talking so much which you have afraid was going to happen. So we're going to do this quick lightning round. You all have sent in the most marvelous questions. Hundreds of them, actually. And we promise to try and get to some of them, but also will get them in other episodes. So each of us have chosen a question for the other. We didn't get to pick our own question we picked, and we're gonna try and do this in a quick light around eso. Okay. Mary Kay, your first asked. Christian Christian asked Kristen s. So this is a question for Christian. Um, Mary Ellen Hook Hawker Hartwick wants to know. How do you organize your story? Notes? She says I will wanna be author and have been struggling with organizing my...

...thoughts for chapters or for short stories or novella. So, as a historic fiction author, I think this is a key one for you, Chris. Question. Okay, so, great question. I would say there are two very short answers to that one. As far a story notes, it all goes into an outline for me. So So if I have an idea, I know exactly where it's gonna belong. I plug it right into the outline and my outlines air not bulleted there in paragraph form. So if I want to remember something, I might put it in parentheses, or I might even put it in parentheses at the top of the chapter heading. But it all just goes right into that outline. If you're talking about how to organize research to keep track of all the research, um, I have a word document that I just instead of writing out like, whatever I found in the research, I'll say, um, the Nah. Labaki Forest Book, Page 1 64. And then I'll put a post it note in that book. So I'll say exactly what the notes about where to find it and then the post it note. And then that way, instead of having secondhand or thirdhand information, I'm I'm eat as I'm writing, going back to the source, which I think is really helpful. So great. Great question. I hope I answered it. Christine. I'm actually I'm actually going to steal that. Okay, Kristen, go ahead. Your next. Okay. I've got one from Cindy Kovac for Christie. And this is have any of you had book ideas that you are Glad you didn't write If so, what was it and why? So that's for Christie. Um, this is a really good question. And when I first started writing, I had a writing professor a Chapel Hill that I really love to. Patty is good friends with to his name's Daniel Wallace. And his most famous book was Big Fish. They're probably a lot of y'all have read that, but He said to me, the worst thing that can happen to you as a writer is that you get published too soon. And I think that was such good advice because I had several manuscript that I never sent out or, you know, really did anything with, um and I'm glad of that. You know, at the time you're so invested in that manuscript, you think it's gonna be the one. But I definitely have that syndrome of thinking. The next thing I'm working on so much better than the one before, and I think that was such a good piece of advice, and I'm really glad that's not exactly the question she asked. But there's nothing that I've wanted to write that I haven't written necessarily. But I'm glad that the things I haven't put out didn't get put out. That's a good feeling, that's all. OK, Christie Ugo Um, Okay, Patty. Linda Danko wants to know what's the longest you have gone without an idea for a new book. And how did you break writer's block? How do you write writer's block? Um, so I've never been without an idea. I think that what happens is I get stuck wondering if the idea is worth the next couple of years of my life. So it's not necessarily I don't have an idea. Oh my God, it's does the idea I have. Is it worthy of my of the next? Especially with historical fiction? It's It's not just the story idea. It's how long you know the research and the reading and the diving down. For years, this last book took me three years. It was so complex. So I think that it's more for me, um, not how long it takes for an idea, but how long it takes me to decide what's next. Now I think the longest that's been has been probably four or five months of starting something, putting it away, starting something, putting it away. And as Faras writer's block, um, it's for me. It's not writer's block. It's not knowing where this story's going next. That, for me, is a block, and usually when that happens, it means you have to go back a few steps. Yeah, so Okay, ready? Mary Alice, here's my question for you from Kate again. I'm pretty sure that's how you say it, she says. I'm reading Mary Alice Monroe's This summer. Guests Karen and David are boarding up Primrose Cottage. Have any...

...of you ever had to stop in the middle of your writing and evacuate everywhere every year? Which brings me real quick to say, all of us, all five of us are really thinking about praying for all of you in the hurry. Half in Texas, Louisiana. We have been texting each other and thinking about you, and I'm really worried about it. So Mary Alice, I know I know the answer to this, But tell everybody else. Have you had to stop in the middle of your writing and evacuate, really? Every year it's the first one was Floyd, but I didn't even own a house yet, and we had to. I was caught in it, the largest evacuation in American history. I was on the road, and that's why I actually do have PTSD about it. I mean, it's truly the minute, like right now, just you, having talked about what's going on in the Gulf, makes my heart go pitter patter and it za lovely live on an island. But every year you're reminded the surprise to pay, and with climate change these storms are just getting increased intensity. So my house is 50% boarded up from the last one that didn't even hit us. But we have boarded up, so it's kind of dark in my office because the shutters are down. We're not going, we're done. And in the minute it gets even close. I board up the house, stop what I'm doing because my mind is already on freeze. That's the trouble with you. Just can't keep your eyes off the television with all the news repeating itself. So that's why I moved to a got a house in North Carolina because after after summer guests, that's a autobiographical story in that those that was me in the barn with all those horses and I learned about the horses and then was inspired to write that book. But the whole reality. I've written about hurricanes five times, but the whole reality of hurricanes coming this big monster is mythological in literary, in the literature. So for me to write about it is is not only autobiographical but a theme that I write about a lot. Andi I and again echoing whatever one says, Please pause to pray for the people in the Gulf. This is a big one, and I hope that we're able to help them. All right, Captain, your question for Kathy? Yes, she remain. Says and I love this. Do you design or get involved with your book covers? And the reason I really like this question for you is I always think you have some of the most beautiful, identifiable covers. I always look for that cute little something. You have Either the pelican or the Seagull or something really cute. And I know you, you are involved. So do you want to answer that? Um, you know, um, our theory. I write summer Beach books, and so we want a cover that looks inviting. We wanted to look like the candy that you'd grab it the check out counter. So it needs to be It needs thio convey. My editor says it needs to convey a sense of celebration, a sense that you want it, and you want to pick it up. So, um, next year we are revamping the look, and I'm really excited about that. I think part of when you write commercial fiction is you always You want your readers to be able to identify your book just by glancing at it. They don't even need to see what the title is. They need to say I want to be in that world. So that's what we're doing. And look for a whole new look for us next year. A big surprise. Yeah, I'm dying for your cover reveal. Yeah, I was just gonna say that there's, um I was started. We reveal my cover, and all of us are going to be revealing our covers here, so it's gonna be really exciting. Okay,...

I'm gonna talk really fast because we have, like, formula. Every week we have a writing tip, and tonight it is from Christine Harmel. Kristen, give us a writing tip. You know what I was thinking with? With us almost running out of time, Here's what I'm gonna dio way. Had a great question from Lynn Carol Hughes, who asked what's your advice on seeking an agent? I have a lot of advice to give, so I'm going to write a post. I'm gonna put it on our Facebook page tomorrow morning. Okay. So look for it tomorrow morning. It will be up before 8 a.m. on. And I'll also include the link to the bookseller. And there too. So you have two ways to get to the bookseller. Okay. So also, I wanted to remind you Sunday our guest for our bonus episode that we're gonna be doing right. We've talked about this. Ready it? Um Author? Yeah. Oh, sorry. Go ahead. I was going to say Okay, good. Real quick. I know that we try to shout out about a debut or something. We're loving Mary. Alice. Tell us real quick what you were thinking this week. This is just a really quick It's the for Gotten Kingdom by Signee Pike. And I love the book It Zits Century And this is the first one was The Lost Queen. This is the second one in the trilogy and you're gonna love it. She's our guest September 16th, I believe. And Patty, you're the host. She's wonderful, She's scholarly. She's so much fun. But this book is serious matter. You will. What did they describe it? They say it Z Oh, Camelot meets Outlander. That's it. It's and it's really great. And so beautifully done. So the for gotten kingdom by Signee Pike. But you, Christie, um, lined up this avenue by fan of Davis, which we have all loved so much, but we just wanted to give her a huge shout out because she has a New York Times list. So way celebrated, go by it and keep it on the list. Yep. Absolutely. Okay, now. So for some really exciting announcements, I mean, just when you think friends and fiction you can't get better. It does. And it is because you you out there watching and listening and tuning in on our membership yesterday on our membership page, we ask people, How did you hear about us? And yesterday I saw one of my favorites. Is that from a stranger at a coffeehouse? Eso Can we just say we love you that you are out there talking about us? We're so excited to announce our fall schedule, Mary Alice. Just kinda after Mary, Alice has done rattling through it. Don't try and write it down. I'm going to post it on the page as soon as the show is over. But, Mary Alice, tell us all about the fall schedule. All right? Give hold onto your head spokes. It's amazing. On September 2nd ETA from September 9th. Emily Giffin, September 16th Signee Pike, September 23rd is just US. September 27th. Christina Lauren September 30th. Kathy Reichs October 7th. Lian Dolan October 14. Charlaine Harris Just in Time for the Spooky Time of Year, October 21st Elizabeth Berg, October 28th Again Just US November 1st Violence Shipment. November 4th. Brit Bennett's November 11. Caroline Leavitt, November 18th. JT Ellison and Hank Phillippi Ryan In November 25th, we're gonna end up with a Thanksgiving for such a great small with just us. I'm so excited. I mean all the books that those air associated with Okay, Mary Kay, I want you to tell everyone about our Sunday brand new bonus episodes called Behind the book. You know, we had so much stuff to talk about this Sunday. We're adding we're starting our bonus episodes, and the inaugural one is with Rachel McMillan. She's a Canadian whose new book, London Restoration, is climbing the charts. She's not only a prolific writer and reader and social media guru, but she's also a literary agent. For those of you who want to get published, you wanna be sure and watch that this Sunday, and...

...we'll see your questions rolling in, and we'll be asking her some of them. This will be a fantastic episodes. So tune in on Sunday at five. Sunday at five on Friends and Fiction, and we'll post something on the page to remind you and Christie tell us about who you're hosting next week, and we'll say goodbye to everyone next week. I'm so excited to be hosting a talk from She is amazing. Her novel is a woman is no man if you have not read it. Well, I just finished it. It is beautiful and horrifying. And I kept looking at it and thinking, This is 2000 and eight. How could this happen in 2000 and eight? Um, And then I found out that the story a semi autobiographical. So if you have not read the story, read it before next week. I mean, it will absolutely blow your mind and order it from our Bookstore of the week page and pallets. Um, it was also offering a 10% discount on all of our new releases. Thanks, Christy. Okay. That was such a fun night. Ladies, we hours about this questions. Okay, everybody out there. Please join us under friends and fiction page to ask us your questions and interact and join us next week when Christie Woodson Harvey will be hosting a top room. But before that, join us on Sunday, where we'll be talking with Rachel McMillan. All right, everyone, thanks so much for being with us, Terry. And thanks for coming. And that's a wrap. Bye bye bye. Thanks, everyone. You've been listening to the friends and Fiction podcast. Be sure to subscribe to the friends and fiction podcast wherever you listen. And if you're enjoying it, leave a review. You can find the friends and fiction authors at w w w dot friends and fiction dot com a swell As on the Facebook group page. Friends and fiction come back soon. Okay? There are still lots of books writing tips, interviews, publishing news and bookstores to chat about goodbye.

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