Ever heard that one about a rising tide lifting all boats? It's been my experience as a writer that you don't get very far in this business, at least not spiritually, unless you come across other writers who are willing to buoy you up along the way. Today's post then is a shout-out to just a few of the many-many people who have been kind to me over the years. I wish I could mention everyone, but that would necessitate writing a whole book.
NELSON DEMILLE (The Gate House). Some people put down writers like Nelson DeMille for the sin of blurbing too many books, as though there's something in it for the bestselling author outside of the simple act of kindly supporting other writers. To this I say: hogwash. When he's already sold tens of millions of books, he may increase his own readership by having his name on the cover of some other writer's book who will be lucky to sell in the tens of thousands? Really? Mr. DeMille blurbed my debut novel The Thin Pink Line, saying, "This is a very clever and engaging story. The Thin Pink Line is fresh, funny, saucy and hip." I really appreciated this, in large part because the packaging of the book is uber-pink, the market designation for it Chick-Lit, and I knew it would therefore be a tough sell to anyone possessing even a smidgen of testosterone. But Mr. DeMille didn't stop there. A few years later when I edited an anthology that was blatantly called This Is Chick-Lit, he was the only blurber, writing, "A long overdue and smart answer to the naysayers of an often maligned genre. It's funny, a little edgy, thoughtful and thoroughly entertaining, not to mention lots of interesting and eye-opening stuff for clever guys who want to see how the other half thinks." At a time when it was popular for certain circles of women to bash the women who write Chick-Lit, here was a man's man saying there was something worth seeing here.
ADRIANA TRIGIANI (Very Valentine). Ms. Trigiani was another blurber for my debut novel, The Thin Pink Line. I was really hoping she'd like the book enough to blurb it because she's known for writing sweet and wonderful novels and I was hoping her endorsement would help take some of the sting out of the acerbic opening I'd written for my book, "Have you become a fuckwit, Jane?" What I didn't realise when I asked her was that she was pregnant with a baby due any second, and yet somehow within a week she sent the following for me to use on my jacket: "Here, written with humor and scathing honesty, is the diary of a (mad) pregnant woman chronicled with acid glee by Lauren Baratz-Logsted in a debut novel to share with every girlfriend you know before, during or after the baby comes. It's a winner!" Then she had her baby. Then she appeared on the Today show. And then yet another of her books hit the NYT Best-seller List. Flash-forward to late spring of 2004. I'm in Chicago to sign copies of the sequel, Crossing the Line, at Book Expo America. Ms. Trigiani was signing in her publisher's booth on the hour before my own signing, so I got in line with something like 200 adoring fans. When I was finally at the front, I placed my name tag on her counter. We'd never met in person before, but one advantage of my ridiculously long name: there's only one of me in the entire world. As soon as she saw it, she came around the cover and enveloped me in a massive hug as though we were BFFs. Then she yelled in her deep voice to her long line that I was a great writer, told them all my name and said they should be sure to go to my signing next. How can you not love someone like that?
LISA MCMANN (Fade). I adore Lisa because she's normal. Let's face it, we writers are a high-maintenance bunch. We are prickly and insecure, we are oversensitive and bombastic, we are a constant muddle of inferiority/superiority complexes. And yet there goes Lisa McMann - dee-duh-dee-duh-dee-duh-dee-duh-dee - writing her amazing YA books, going 2-for-2 with the NYT Best-seller List, never needing any kind of maintenance at all, just being talented, level-headed and fun.
ALYSON NOEL (Evermore). It would be so easy to hate Alyson. She's beautiful and talented...and did I mention she just hit #1 on the NYT Best-seller List for YA??? Really, it would be so easy to hate her, except for the fact that she is talented. And kind. Exceedingly kind. Some people, when they achieve great success, others look at them and say, "Why her and not me?" Some people, when they achieve great success, others look at them and say, "Why her and not just about anyone else in the world?" But when someone like Alyson succeeds, others can only be happy about it - well, unless they're really vile people - because it makes perfect sense.
A.S. KING (Dust of 100 Dogs). If Lisa is wonderful and Alyson is kind, then A.S. is generous to other writers, which makes it easy for the writing community to root for the success of her debut YA, of which I blurbed: "Sparkling, original, both swashbuckling and contemporary...This gripping adventure is sure to be devoured by both teens and adults." In 2007, A.S. and I were jointly honored for our contributions to other writers in being named Backspace Member of the Year, which leads me to...
BACKSPACE (http://www.bksp.org/). Backspace is an online forum with nearly 1000 members at various stages of their writing careers and, particularly for newer writers just learning about the industry, it's an invaluable resource in terms of information and support. If you join, be sure to say that Lauren sent you.
QUESTION OF THE DAY: WHO HAS BUOYED YOUR BOAT?
Be well. Don't forget to write.