01 October 2012

Author Guest Post and Giveaway - Fingerprints of You

Well, when Judy Blume recommends a book, you know what you're supposed to do, right?

A month ago, I had a chance to read the quietly emotional and beautiful Fingerprints of You, by debut author Kristen-Paige Madonia. After meeting her at the Virginia Festival of the Book earlier this year, I'm so thankful I had a chance to interact with this gifted author who has so much to give for readers. I was touched by the story of a pregnant teenager who takes the journey to San Francisco to meet her absent father, and I look forward to her next book. Here, she shares insights on finding her own approval to cherish this time with her first book. Scroll below to see this week's upcoming events of where she'll be and then all the way at the bottom is the giveaway!

Notes from the Road: Permission Not to Write

Last spring, shortly before my debut novel FINGERPRINTS OF YOU was released, I was fortunate enough to meet with the brilliant Ben Percy for brunch in Washington, DC. Ben is notorious for his booming voice and his down-to-earth no-nonsense attitude, both characteristics that come in handy for an author who works as a professor and often books high-profile appearances at conferences and literary events.

I don't know Ben well, but a mutual friend introduced us and we’ve crossed paths a handful of times, so I was looking forward to spending the afternoon with such a talented and established author. I was six months short of my pub date for FINGERPRINTS OF YOU, and I wanted advice. I was hungry for suggestions on how to launch my career in the best way possible, but more importantly, if truth be told, I wanted to talk craft. I was working through the last hundred pages of the first draft of a new novel, and while I was glad for any insight into the business-side of writing that he could provide, I was mostly excited to talk to him about my new book. I've never had the opportunity to study with Ben, but I've read and loved everything he's written, and I wanted guidance. I wanted to ask about his writing habits, wanted to vent my concerns about my new novel, and wanted to hear about the speed-bumps and triumphs he’d been through during his process of writing and editing all those wonderful books and stories.

Over coffee and scrambled eggs I talked nervously about the central characters in my new novel. I told him about the plot, the problems it still had and the vision I'd conceived for the book. I voiced my concerns and confessed that I believed that, eventually, just maybe, this new project had the potential to be my finest work.

And finally, loudly, in that voice he’s so well known for, Ben interrupted: "You do know you need to stop writing this book soon,” he said.

I know a lot of writers, have wined and dined with the best of them at writing conferences and residences all over the United States, and no one, not one, has ever told me to stop writing. Stop writing?

But he went on. And reluctantly I listened… 

I spent four years working on FINGERPRINTS OF YOU and had tirelessly contacted bookstores and universities to arrange readings and school visits. I’d applied and been accepted to numerous conferences and festivals for the fall and had arranged a slew of events and road trips to help promote the book. It was what I wanted and planned for, and rightfully so I had decided not to teach or work my “day job” for the first six months after the book was released. With the help of my publisher, I created a whirlwind book tour (http://kristenpaigemadonia.com/events-readings/) that I was truly looking forward to. A book tour that included long train and plane trips, nights at hotels alone, and days in cities where I didn’t know many people: Free time, I thought, I could spend working on my new novel. But I was completely wrong.

FINGERPRINTS OF YOU has now been available for a little over 8 weeks, though it’s been almost four months since I’ve worked on that new book. Thanks to my amazing friends, I’ve had three launch parties since the book came out, and thanks to all that planning I did, I’ve participated in events in fifteen different cities so far. I’ve written interview answers and guest blogs and website content for a wide variety of venues, but Ben was right, in the end I had to stop writing the new novel about a month before my pub date. I quickly learned that talking about one book to students and readers while writing a different book just doesn’t work. It’s like cheating on a boyfriend. Or checking email when talking the phone to a family member. Or on-line shopping on your laptop when attending a lecture. It’s not fair or respectful to that first book or the characters and the world inside those pages. It’s also not fair to yourself, to work so hard and so long and then enter a book tour with half of your heart inside another book.

So I’ve got my new novel “in the drawer,” as they say. The manuscript exists but sits quietly while I’m out on the road. It’s a rough draft, a messy collection of chapters and characters that need to be rewritten, reeled in, and fine-tuned. But I know that now is not the time to try and fix it. And when people ask, as they always do during Q&A, “What are you working on now?” I keep it short and simple: “I’m working on enjoying this,” I say, clutching my copy of FINGERPIRINTS OF YOU. I’m working on giving myself permission not to write that other book. I’m allowing myself to slow down and to take all of it in, this business of being a writer, and I’m gladly having one final fling with FINGERPRINTS OF YOU: our book-tour. 

Thank you, Kristen-Paige, for stopping by! I eagerly await your next novel. Until then, my reading and blogging friends, please check out this week's events in California:
  • Wednesday, October 3rd: Chapman University in Orange, California
  • Thursday, October 4th: CSULB in Long Beach, California
  • For future events, click here.

GIVEAWAY! (For US residents only, due to shipping costs.)

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  1. It sounds like he gave her some great advice!

  2. This book looks really good! Congrats to Kristen!

  3. I loved this guest post, and I quite agree, sometimes it's time to stop writing, and just enjoy the life around the art you have already created.

  4. I really love the cover of this novel--it is just gorgeous. Did Judy Blume blurb the book or recommend it at a book conference? If Judy recommends it, it's a done deal for me. I look forward to picking this novel up. Thanks for the feature--I would have missed it otherwise.

  5. I'm glad she's enjoying her time away from that second book, but I do hope she gets back to it. Because, selfishly, I want to read it!