Last night, I had my first book signing for Baby Grand at Book Revue in Huntington, N.Y. — the go-to place for book signings on Long Island (Nelson DeMille will be there tonight, Valerie Bertinelli tomorrow night). More than 100 people came out to support me, braving the rain and the parking. I was completely overwhelmed. A truly great evening. For photos from the event, you can visit the Making ‘Baby Grand’ Facebook page. And here is a video snippet of my presentation where I talk about the inspiration behind Don Bailino, the villain of Baby Grand.
As is the tradition of this blog, on Tuesdays I usually feature first-time authors as part of my Debut Author Q&A series. This week, I thought perhaps I’d share my own interview on The Writer’s Dream, a public access television show taped on Long Island on which authors discuss the writing, publishing and marketing of their books. Some of you may know that I am the original moderator of this program — and still appear as such from time to time — but for this episode, which was taped in late July, I hand over the moderator seat to executive producer Linda Frank who interviews me about the road to publication for Baby Grand.
Hey, gang! I normally don’t write two blog posts in one day — in fact, this is a first! — but I just wanted to let my readers know that today Baby Grand is Kindle Nation Daily’s eBook of the Day and that, in celebration of this lovely event, my debut novel will be offered on Amazon at the promotional price of $1.99. That’s one whole dollar off the eBook’s regular retail price (hey, you can buy two marble notebooks at Target with the money saved!). Enjoy the rest of your weekend and summer! And thanks, as always, for reading Making ‘Baby Grand.’ I hope you find the information helpful and interesting.
Last month, I did my first reading for Baby Grand as part of the Summer Gazebo Series in Oceanside, New York.
And when I was deciding what excerpt I would choose for the event, I just thought I’d start from the beginning and read Chapter 1 — seemed like a logical place, right?
But I began watching some YouTube videos of authors who had been featured at the Gazebo over the years and realized that Chapter 1 was going to be a poor choice. Why? Well, even though Baby Grand is a thriller, there’s really not much action right off the bat, and my main characters don’t appear until Chapter 2 and beyond. Yes, Chapter 1 is a wonderful beginning to the novel, but, by itself, is by no means suitable as a representation of the entire work. As writer-friend Roz Morris wrote in a recent post about how she went about selecting an excerpt for a reading, beginnings are “for settling down with, not standing up.” I needed an excerpt that not only featured a few of my major players but one that had a little more suspense, something that grabbed listeners and made them want to know more, without giving too much away, of course.
Profanity was also an issue. There are characters in Baby Grand who have a penchant for the F word, so those scenes were out, because I had been instructed to select an excerpt that was more basic cable than premium channel.
What to choose? What to choose? I mean, there are 62 chapters in Baby Grand!
I began to narrow down the possibilities. The excerpt had to be a chapter that was early on in the novel or else too much of the plot could be given away. But it couldn’t be too early, because I needed things to be set in motion to make it more interesting for the listener. There was the profanity issue, yes, and I also had to think about timing — I had been given a ten-minute slot to fill and was told I could not go over, because there would be four other readers (two poets, a fellow fiction writer and a nonfiction writer) there that night as well.
My current WIP is another thriller, titled In the Red. There’s a central love story of sorts at its core, and I’ve been struggling a bit with it. I like my novels to appeal to both men and women, and I feel like this book is veering a little too much toward the feminine side (at least I think it is) — you know romance and all that mushy-gushy stuff.
Last night while I was sitting at my computer, my husband came home and told me that our local newspaper, the Massapequa Post — the one I worked for some twenty-odd years ago — ran a story about the debut of Baby Grand. Yippee! “Not so fast,” he said. “Take a look.”
So I googled the story and discovered that my former magazine — and an editor who has known me for many years — misspelled my name in the headline: Dina Sanortelli. (Cue Homer Simpson: D’oh!) I couldn’t help but laugh. Hey, I’m an editor. Typos happen.
Plus, I’m used to my name –first name and last name — being misspelled all the time. I remember when I won my elementary school spelling bee in sixth grade and got my name in the paper. I was so excited to see it, and then saw that my school’s winner was a girl named “Dian Santorelli.”
Anyhow, this morning, I figured I’d drove over to the Massapequa Post’s office to pick up some extra copies of the story, glaring typo notwithstanding, and on my way, I was thinking about my current WIP. How to fix the feminine thing. And then WHAM. As Gru from Despicable Me might say, “Light bulb!”
It hit me. Baby Grand has a nice mix of narrators, both men and women, and I realized that of the four main characters in In the Red only one is male. I would just add a guy to the mix and then it should read more balanced. Problem solved.
But who to add? What kind of guy, I wondered, as I drove to the newspaper office. And then it hit me again — “light bulb!” — he’ll work for a small, local newspaper.
And there you have it, how a typo turned into one of the best things to happen to me this summer in terms of my new book.
I’m sure Dian Santorelli would have been proud.
I was recently interviewed for Hofstra University, my alma mater, about the making of Baby Grand and about being a freelance writer. Although I normally showcase fellow debut authors on Tuesdays, I thought it might be fun to feature myself today since these videos just went live. I hope you enjoy them.
On writing Baby Grand:
On being a freelance writer:
So I’m doing what I do every morning, checking out various social media sites for news and trends, and I come across the new song “Don’t Look Back” from Bryan Adams, one of my all-time favorite recording artists (his was my very first concert when I was a teenager):
And I think to myself, Hey, this is perfect for BABY GRAND. “Don’t look back” is a recurring theme in my debut thriller. And the song’s opening line, “Look into the eyes of a child,” made me think of little Charlotte Grand, who is at the center of the story.
So I ask Bryan Adams — via Twitter, of course — if I may declare “Don’t Look Back” the unofficial theme song of Baby Grand and he says yes.
How cool is that?
So there you go. New theme song. Next on the list is to get Robert De Niro to agree to play Gino Cataldi. Hmmm…
One of the most important — and challenging — aspects of publishing a book today, whether you self-publish or traditionally publish, is marketing. Getting the word out. I just came across a sobering article that says that half of all self-published authors earn less than $500 a year. Holy cow!
That’s why when my novel was published last week on Amazon, I revved up the marketing machine immediately and reached out to bloggers to see if they might need some help writing posts this summer (as a blogger, I know how difficult it can be to come up with new material regularly) and would like a guest blogger or an eager interviewee. The response has been wonderful.
Today is the first stop on what I’m calling the Baby Grand-palooza Blog Tour. Thank you to Belinda Frisch, who was kind enough to interview me. You can check out the interview here and here. Of course, while I’m looking to promote my debut novel, I also want to be able to provide useful insight into the writing, editing and publishing process. Hopefully, I succeeded. :)