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Book Promotion: Like Shouting Prayers Into Hurricane

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I first met author N.M. Kelby at the AWP Conference
in Atlanta. The Writer's Digest staff includes many fans of her work,
so it was thrilling to talk with her about a potential book project.

I'm now proud to announce the fruits of our collaboration, new to our list this fall:
The Constant Art of Being a Writer.

Kelby recently did a Twitter-style Q&A interview for Reckless Hearts, and shared the answers with me.

1. Favorite book as a child?
Loved my father’s copy of The Last Days Of Pompeii by Edward "It was a dark and stormy night" Bulwer-Lytton. That explains a lot, doesn’t it?

2. What are you reading right now?
The Escoffier Cookbook and Guide to the Fine Art of Cookery. Don’t you want to know why?

3. Read aloud a favorite segment/recipe/poem from your book …
Smoke billowed out into the street, blanketed the stars. It tinted the night sepia, as if the moment had already been lived and forgotten.

4. Why that title?
TRAVEL GUIDE FOR RECKLESS HEARTS? Who doesn’t have one? Who doesn’t need a guide to travel through the world with that joyous unruly beast?

5. Why independent bookstores matter?
For the same reasons that cowboys matter, their wild untamed spirits. They make their own rules. Plus they know bull when they see it.

6. Favorite part of writing a book?
To write a book is to begin a conversation. I love to tour and finish that chat face to face. Nothing is more fun than reading for readers.

7. Least favorite part of writing a book?
I know it’s now a writer’s job to promote their book but sometimes it feels like you’re shouting prayers into a hurricane.

8. Are you working on anything new?
Yes. BTW This could be my first answer under 140 spaces.

9. Do you have any superstitions, lucky charms, or rituals around your writing?
I arrive at my desk by 9 a.m., take 30 minutes for lunch, and leave at 6 p.m. It’s a job, after all. A great job––but still, a job.

10. Comment on the writing life...
THE CONSTANT ART OF BEING A WRITER: THE LIFE, ART AND BUSINESS OF FICTION is my comment on the life. It’s more than 140 spaces––it’s $17.95.

11. Hardest part of the creation to publication experience?

Writers are public dreamers––the work itself is a great joy. Selling dreams twelve to a carton is another story.

12. Why do you write?
Asking a writer why they write is like asking a dog why they breathe … they don’t understand the question but they’re still hoping you’ll toss them a bone.

13. When do you write?
I write when I am sleeping, lying, eating, flirting, praying, and pulling weeds. Living life is writing. It’s paper optional.

14. When did you know you were a writer?
When I was about 7 years old and started creating library books for my dolls to check out.

15. What, or Who, will you dish on, as in gossip about, at dinner?
I have a great many Dwight Yoakam stories––some of which involve me being naked, which, surprisingly, is more innocent than it sounds.

16. What will make you a scintillating dinner guest?
I believe in fun, gossip, and the well-turned phrase and am a consummate foodie. Heck, even my in-laws like to eat with me.

17. Who is your favorite new author?
Chef Auguste Escoffier––although he is dead and only new to me.

18. What is your drink of choice?
I drink bourbon and wine, although not usually in the same glass. Of course, there is an exception to every rule.

19. What is your favorite food?
If it isn’t moving, fried, fatty and the word “atomic” is not printed before it on the menu, I’m willing to give it a try. I’m all about the food.

20. Will you talk business over dinner?
Why would a writer talk business at dinner? That’s like asking your ex who makes the best surveillance cameras.


After Kelby's workshop at the Writer's Digest/BEA Conference in 2009, she handed me a print-out of one of her slides. I have it hanging in my office now—see below.

(Hint: Our authors-speakers are always such a delight. You can experience them too at our conference next week in NYC. Register here for the full event or just for a day. Use code PC109 to get $50 off a full registration up until Monday.)

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