May I recommend
reading debut writers.
Now, you might be thinking this is awfully self-serving, Amy, as I happen to know for a fact that you yourself are a debut author. Well, you’ve caught me. I do want you to read my book, BUT I also want you to read other books by authors just like me who are starting out.
Until this year I didn’t particularly pay attention to debut writers and essentially I found books through the normal ways - my friends mentioned something they loved, the library told me “if you like this, you might like that,” a favourite author released something new, Oprah.
This year, however, I got the amazing, life changing, life affirming, incredible news that several of my own books were going to be published. I was thrilled, delighted, flummoxed and terrified. I don’t have an agent, which is generally the norm for published authors. Agents help sell your book to the publisher. The good ones (so I’ve been told) help you figure out how to promote and sell that book and they also help plan your next professional move and future career. Agents are super smart publishing professionals who have seen a thing or two and can be part of an author’s team, offering them vital information about what is normal and what is not normal. As I said, I don’t have an agent, and as a result, and let me be crystal clear here - I. DO. NOT. KNOW. WHAT. I’M. DOING.
At this point, I know how to write a book, but I do not know how to be an author. I do not know any of the things. Should I be working on another book? Should I have sold my film rights? Should I be having bookmarks printed up? What am I supposed to do with local book stores? Should I be going to conferences? Should I be sweeping my bangs to the left, instead of the right? Urgent questions to which I have no answer.
Enter my debut writing group. Started by the brilliant and very very funny Liv Stratman, it is a safe space on Slack where debut authors can ask all of their dumb questions, cheerlead for one another and pool knowledge. It has been a game changer. Wait, did you say “Slack” - like the cool messaging system that you’ve only read about in hip magazine articles about New York media-type work spaces? Yeah, [checks fingernails, looks back up] THAT Slack.
Anyway, the debut group + my own growing awareness of how publishing works has taught me to pay attention to debut writers. Not only is it truly thrilling to find a new author whose work you love, but it’s also enormously satisfying to support someone just starting out in their career. Every sale, library borrow, rating or review is meaningful to a debut author and it’s wonderful to have an impact like that.
Here are a few of the debuts I’ve enjoyed so far + some others that I have queued up, but haven’t had a chance to read yet.
A charming coming of age story told through letters. It’s got the October Crisis, hockey and murder. Technically not Wayne’s VERY first book, but he sneaks in because we’re in the same critiquing group. Order it.
This is the Liv, I mentioned above, the bitingly funny woman who organized my debut group and wrote a sharp, hilarious exploration of relationships, disordered eating and urban life. Order it.
Stacey wrote a beautiful, thoughtful family saga story set in Texas but based on the Greek gods. Zeus, Hera, Apollo, Artemis and Aphrodite (among others) make appearances as real estate brokers, housewives and rockstars. Athena comes across as smug and bossy. She’s a lawyer, obviously. It’s fantastic. Order it.
A twisty thriller set in cubicle-land drudgery and deranged fandom. Humorous, insightful and fascinating. Order it
Now, I haven’t gotten to these ones yet, but they are on my nightstand and I will read them over the Christmas break. Check them out, too.
PROGRAMMING NOTE: As Miss Piggy would sing, Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat… I’m taking a break. See you in 2022, suckers! Remember, it you’re antsy on a Sunday morning for some content - find the Méli-Mélo archives here.
As we approach the festive season, this article is a vital read
Not to brag, but I already knew that you just lop the mouldy bit off the cheese and keep eating. I didn’t know about the Saran Wrap, though…
“Clingfilm is the worst environment for cheese, because it traps the moisture,” says Mellis. The same goes for a plastic container, says Jason Hinds, the director at Neal’s Yard Dairy. “It makes it humid and precipitates the growth of white surface mould.” This mould is edible – but it will taint the taste and the appearance of the cheese, and is easily avoided by using beeswax wraps (a favourite of Mellis), waxed paper or even baking paper.
Now this is an obituary
The love, humour and insight in this one is fantastic. This lady lived a well-lived life.
Because she was my mother, the death of zaftig good-time gal Renay Corren at the impossible old age of 84 is newsworthy to me, and I treat it with the same respect and reverence she had for, well, nothing. A more disrespectful, trash-reading, talking and watching woman in NC, FL or TX was not to be found. Hers was an itinerant, much-lived life, a Yankee Florida liberal Jewish Tough Gal who bowled 'em in Japan, rolled 'em in North Carolina and was a singularly unique parent.
jami attenberg @jamiattenbergImposter syndrome is a waste of your time, a scam, a con, multilevel marketing for your brain, where one insecurity sits at the top of a whole host of other ones.
Work Christmas Party
I’ve watched this four times and it still makes me laugh
Cold pop tarts
… only I am a little bit
How’s December 2021 shaping up? Not good
I do have a brother…
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Amy Tector, The Honeybee Emeralds (March 2022)