The Writers' Loop

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The Word on the Street at Secretary Hillary Clinton’s Book Signing

By SUSANNE MARIE POULETTE

It was Tuesday morning, July 29, 2014, in Saratoga Springs.   The sky was bright and clear, and the sun was warm andjjj 059 inviting.  A cool breeze blew across Broadway and down Caroline Street, comforting the river of book-toting supporters during the four-hour wait to meet former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. jjj 090  Folks of all ages patiently stood in line, chatting among themselves, hugging their prized copies of Hard Choices, and sparkling with anticipation.

I wondered how many in the crowd had already read, or planned to read, their copy of Secretary Clinton’s book.  How many people were there purely for the historical nature of the event, to meet the author, or to own a signed copy of the book?  I posed the following questions to several attendees:

“Why are you here today, and what have you learned or want to learn from Secretary Clinton’s book?”

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Nancy B.:   I’m looking forward to reading her book, but I’m also here with my two young daughters, six and seven year olds.  I think it’s important for them to meet the former First Lady and former Secretary of State, and potentially the first woman president of the United States.  So I’m mainly here for them.

Hazel, 9 years old:   Because I want to be president someday, so I thought it would be nice to meet Hillary Clinton.  I’m reading her book, but  I’m only two pages in.

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Sydney, 8 ½I’m really inspired by her because I want to be president someday.  I haven’t started to read her book yet because I just bought it yesterday.  We’re going to read it tonight.  I really hope she runs for president.

KathyI want to meet our next president in person because I think she’s going to be the first female president of these United States. I back her 100% and I admire her.

David R. I want to meet her and I think she’s probably going to run for president.  It would be cool to meet the person who could be the next president.

Sean EnglandI’m here as Communications Associate with “Ready for Hillary.” We’re a grassroots organization urging former Secretary Clinton to run for president in 2016.  As of today we have about 2 ½ million supporters across the country.  We’re following her book tour across the country, engaging with her supporters and trying to get people excited about 2016.  I thought the book was great.  It was really a powerful book. She identified a lot of key accomplishments that she made when she was Secretary of State.

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DebbieI’m here because I had so much hope for the last election, and I feel that things are just so gridlocked right now.  Sometimes I’m thinking that a woman’s touch—that collaborative relationship building and rapport building—that women do so well, might be what we need right now in our country.  I’m hoping to learn about how she views world events, how she sees the global picture, how she sees our interconnection with other countries, and what her potential solutions are.  I’m looking for her wisdom and experience.

Nikki:  I’d like to learn about Hillary’s perspective on the decisions she was involved in as Secretary of State: what variables were considered, how her own personal beliefs or values affected her decisions, and how she felt about the outcome.

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Our small, informal sampling suggests that there are numerous reasons why we purchase books and stand in line for hours waiting to meet an author.  It seems clear, however, that this particular author drew Tuesday’s vast crowd for perhaps, more than just literary reasons.

The Writers’ Loop extends our thanks and best wishes to those who graciously contributed to this survey.

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Author Courtney Maum’s Road to Publication

by Peggy Morehouse Strack

An independent bookstore has so many treasures to offer a community—comfy chairs to peruse the latest releases, a friendly staff to point out page turners, the rich scent of print, and shelves filled with books just waiting to be opened. One of the special features offered by Northshire Bookstore in my hometown, Saratoga Springs, is the authors it brings in to chat with enthusiastic readers like myself. Thanks to the brick and mortar shop on Broadway, I’ve had the opportunity to meet Mitch Albom, Neil Gaiman, and Anne Rice.

 

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Northshire Bookstore, Saratoga Springs, NY

On June 21, I once again sat at the upper level of Northshire listening to another author. Courtney Maum read from and discussed her debut novel, I AM HAVING SO MUCH FUN HERE WITHOUT YOU. It’s a story about a monogamist’s attempt to earn his wife’s forgiveness, while ultimately answering the question: Is it possible to fall back in love with your spouse?

Courtney began her presentation by saying that she last visited Saratoga Springs when she was a young teenager attending Skidmore’s Summer Jazz Institute. She laughed, revealing that she shyly spent most of her non-performance time in her dorm room because she was one of only two girls amongst approximately one-hundred boys. Acknowledging her husband and daughter in the audience with a smile, she pointed out that she returns without her “boy” fear.

Courtney then read a passage from her debut novel that ended with one of the many provocative summations about marriage dispersed throughout her story, “But no one tells you what you start doing to each other when you wed….No one explains that six years into it, a simple request to Pick up a half pound of ground turkey and maybe some organic leeks on your way home? is going to send the free, blue sky crashing down like a pillory around your neck, see you clutching your paper number at the butcher’s ashamed to be just another sucker bringing white meat home.”

 

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Courtney Maum signs her debut novel, I AM HAVING SO MUCH FUN HERE WITHOUT YOU, at Northshire Bookstore, Saratoga Springs, NY

After her reading, Courtney welcomed questions from the audience and described her novel’s fascinating journey to publication:  “I first wrote this book before I was married, I was twenty-five. I was busy revising it for an editor at a major publishing house when this editor up and left her job, leaving me orphaned, disillusioned, crushed. My then-agent sent it out to eighteen other editors, who sent back eighteen rejections. Fast-forward ten years later, my current all-star agent, Rebecca Gradinger, convinced me to resurrect the project and give it another chance. By that time, I myself had been married almost as long as the couple in the book and was pregnant with our first child. I decided to rewrite the book entirely, using many of the same characters, which allowed me to draw from my personal experience of matrimony, which surely improved the book.”

What happened next?

Courtney landed a publishing deal with TOUCHSTONE, a division of Simon & Shuster, Inc. and it was released on June 10, 2014.

How is I AM HAVING SO MUCH FUN HERE WITHOUT YOU doing?

It has received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly and has been featured in national periodicals like The Wall Street Journal and Vanity Fair. It was also selected as an Amazon Best Book of the Month, June 2014 and made The Today Show’s and O Magazine’s Must-Read Summer List.

I asked Courtney, “After being rejected, and spending ten years in your dresser drawer, I AM HAVING SO MUCH FUN HERE WITHOUT YOU, was released by a major publishing house, is receiving outstanding reviews, and is steadily climbing in sales rankings. Can you find some words to express how success feels? Are you doing anything special to celebrate?”

Courtney responded, “The positive attention is flat-out bonkers, but the truth is, I’m trying not to settle in too much. I suppose it’s a defense mechanism honed after so many years of rejections, but I prefer to live this like a blissful out-of-the-body experience. As long as it feels surreal, I’ll be able to keep writing, and that’s what matters most to me.”

I then asked her if she had any advice for writers struggling to get published.

“In terms of advice, I have so much! I made a lot of mistakes along the way and wasted time feeling angry…I’ll just say: keep your head down, don’t be bitter, get off Facebook, do the work.”

Well, okay Courtney. I’m on it!

One more thing. I’ll never, ever throw out a manuscript. You never know what may happen in ten years.

To learn more about Courtney visit her website: http://courtneymaum.tumblr.com/
Stop by her Facebook Page at (Don’t linger too long if you’re a writer! :o) https://www.facebook.com/courtneymaumbooks

A Little Something Extra:

My signed copy of I AM HAVING SO MUCH FUN HERE WITHOUT YOU:

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