List Post: juin 2017 (June)

Not exactly a list, but…

Here’s an update:

On June 1, I hosted my neighborhood’s Book Club meeting. The book we chose to read and discuss? My latest suspense novel, DADDY’S GIRL.

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We talked about my other books, too, including my creative nonfiction book ALL THE ABOVE: MY SON’S BATTLE WITH BRAIN CANCER. Many of my neighbors had known Jack since he was a little boy (he was 9 when we moved in), and they were touched by his story.

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Book club members holding my novels UNDERWATER and DADDY’S GIRL, nonfiction ALL THE ABOVE, and of course…wine.

I was thrilled to see everyone that night. Although these are the only photos we took, there were about 18 people at the meeting. I’ve been hit or miss lately at our meetings, but I’m always interested in what we select to read. I like to read multiple genres, and luckily, the book club does, too.

We talked about my novel, and members were also very interested in my writing process, my path to publication, and what it’s like to work with an editor. Just the kinds of things I like to talk about! We drank wine, munched on appetizers, and enjoyed catching up when we weren’t talking books.

I’d love to be a guest at YOUR book club anytime, in person or via Skype. Just let me know when!

Two nights later, I attended the 53rd Annual Georgia Author of the Year Awards banquet. DADDY’S GIRL was a Nominee in the Mystery/Detective category (the best fit, since there isn’t a Thriller/Suspense category, too). There were over a dozen Nominees in the category, and though it didn’t win, I was thrilled to be there and to be nominated. It was wonderful to be among writers of many genres and watch as a Winner and a Finalist were chosen in each group.

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Here I am at the banquet with my friend, author Liz Lazarus, a Nominee in the First Novel category

What else is planned for June? Basically, writing (book 5). So far, it’s unnamed, but the characters are in serious development, and the scenes are coming together. Stay tuned.

 

Find my books at Barnes & Noble!

The “Perimeter” Barnes & Noble on Perimeter Center West in Atlanta (near Perimeter Mall) now stocks signed copies of three of my books!

Find my psychological suspense novels UNDERWATER and DADDY’S GIRL, both set in Atlanta, on the shelf in Fiction & Literature

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And my memoir ALL THE ABOVE: MY SON’S BATTLE WITH BRAIN CANCER is shelved in Biographies & Memoirs. Look whose books I’m next to 😊…

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(Books are shelved in alphabetical order by author name.)

 

List Post, aoĂ»t 2016 (August)

It’s the Dog Days of Summer, and I’ve got a new list!

  • The Georgia Writers Association has just released the judges’ notes for Finalists and Winners of the 2016 Georgia Author of the Year Awards. Here’s what judge Iraj Omidvar said about my book: 
    • “Julia McDermott’s All the Above, My Son’s Battle with Brain Cancer is replete with powerful dialogues and descriptions that bring to life the circumstances leading to — as well as the significance of — each of the often life-and-death decisions involved in fighting brain cancer. At the center of this drama is Jack, the courageous and much-loved young man whose struggle reminds us of the often invisible social ties that underpin our lives. In recounting the events, McDermott exposes the powerful relationships among parents and children, siblings, and relatives and friends that sustain life and work, here in face of tremendous stressors. The memoir is also a poignantly appreciative look at the dedicated physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals the family relied on for Jack’s surgeries and recovery.”
  • After my “Personal Journey” was published on July 10, 2016 by the AJC – Atlanta Journal Constitution – titled Fear and Gratitude, (click here to read), I connected with the Georgia Chapter of the Pediatric Brain Tumor Association (headquartered in Asheville, NC). They help families with children who have been diagnosed with brain tumors, and they do great work.
  • I’ll appear on the Atlanta Writers Club Thriller panel at this year’s AJC Decatur Book Festival on Sat., Sept. 3 at 11:15 am at the Decatur City Hall. Afterward, I’ll sign copies of my novels DADDY’S GIRL and UNDERWATER, and my memoir ALL THE ABOVE: MY SON’S BATTLE WITH BRAIN CANCER. 
  • That same day, from 2:00 to 3:00, I’ll be at the Atlanta Writers Club booth, to chat and sign copies of my books. I’ll also appear at the Sisters in Crime booth, time and date TBA.
  • Later in September: I’m traveling to New Orleans to attend Mystery Writers Conference, Bouchercon, and will appear on a panel titled Watch That Man – Thriller on Sunday Sept. 18 at 9:00 am. 
  • In November, I’ll be a participating moderator/panelist on a nonfiction panel at the Milton Literary Festival, and next March, I’ll be a “Regional Writer” at the Dahlonega Literary Festival.

 

Deciding what to read…and a flashback!

Start to finish, it takes (me) about two forevers to write a book. Then, when it’s finished, it gets dropped into the ocean of everything that’s available for people to read: books (in tons of genres, fiction and nonfiction); news articles/newsfeed; essays and opinion pieces; blog posts; social media updates on Facebook, Twitter, etc.; and even short stories, flash fiction and poems.

And that’s not all. There’s also entertainment like films, TV, videos, and plays–yes, plays– that pull us away from the printed written word on a page or device. So when I finish writing a book (make that, birthing my baby, because when you’re writing a book, it feels like you’re having a baby), I know it’s competing with a gazillion other things out there, to catch your eye and your attention.

So – how do I get you (y’all, and more important, all of y’all) to give my book a chance, for your time? How do I get it in front of you, even as one of your options? It’s hard, Mesdames et Messieurs. It’s quite hard.

Flashback to the 90s, when I had little kids at home, and very little time to read. But I did read. I read in the carpool line, and before I went to sleep. I read at the park. I didn’t have a device or even a laptop, and I spent little time at the desktop computer we owned. I watched movies and some TV, but I liked to read. A lot.

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My four enfants (kids) on a family trip to San Francisco in the 1990s

How did I find books to read back then? Good books, that is – books that I was going to enjoy and remember? I had little time to myself, and even less to spend in those big fancy bookstores that were coming into vogue. I remember one time I got a generous gift card to spend at one of them, and I had a little time to browse while one kid was at a piano lesson, another was at dance, and the other two were at soccer. I walked into the fiction section and began to walk down the aisles.

I wanted to make some good choices; I was BUYING some books for me, and I didn’t want to regret my purchases. But I wasn’t in a book club, nor had I heard what the new must-have novels were. I was suspicious of anything positioned at the front of the store; maybe there was something for me there, but maybe not. I didn’t have time to watch Oprah, so I didn’t know what she was pushing. All I had read recently were classics that we already owned, that I either hadn’t read, or had read (but didn’t remember), or that my oldest kids were reading in school. But I didn’t want to buy a classic that day. I wanted something new and something great.

I wanted to discover something.

The clock ticked by and I made my selections. I don’t know if I wandered back to the front and picked up a best seller, or took a chance on a book whose cover I liked. Maybe I bought something written by someone whose other books I had already read and liked, such as Peter Mayle, Maeve Binchy, Ferrol Sams, David Sedaris, or Nicholas Sparks. Back then (and now) I read (and read) lots of different genres. It was great to find something new I liked, and tell people I knew about it. And now that I’m an author, that’s just what I want readers of my books to do (if they like my books, that is): tell others about them.

Even though what I like may not be what you like (or even, what I write may not be what you like), talking about books seems fun to me. I may give what you recommend a chance, and love it. But even if I don’t love it, I’ve tried it. I’ve sampled something new. I’ve given something a chance for my attention (and my brain) that somebody, somewhere sat down to write. And it may have taken them a couple of forevers to finish it.

I’ve tried my best to get the books I’ve written in front of potential readers. I’ve set up and appeared at book signings. I’ve participated in book festivals and served on panels. I’ve sent out emails, newsletters, and updates to my friends on Facebook, and followers on Twitter and Instagram. I’ve offered my books as free downloads and giveaways, produced book trailers, and thrown parties. The publisher of my suspense novel UNDERWATER has done a great job promoting it and has included it in various promotions and Kindle deals. And I’ve asked readers to write and post reviews of my books on Amazon and Goodreads.

I hope that if you discover my books, you enjoy reading them. In different genres, two are written in first person, and one in third, with multiple points of view. Two are novels (fiction) and one is a true story (memoir). My fourth book, another suspense novel, will be published very soon. Lately, I’ve begun writing my fifth book, a novel. My characters are clear in my head (and on paper), and so are some of their conflicts. But I’m still struggling with some pieces of the plot.

If you’ve read this far, you like reading; you might even love it. If you don’t love my books, or my writing, then I hope you find something in them to like–no matter how different they might be from what you expect, or usually read, like, love, or see at the front of the bookstore, in Costco, in People magazine, or on Oprah (is she still doing that?). With each book, there was a day that I got up in the morning, sat down in front of a blank computer screen, and tapped the first letter. And, IF you read one of my stories and like it, I hope you will take the time to write a review of it on Amazon. Don’t worry about exactly what to say. I promise it won’t take much time to do. I recently wrote a review of a book I had read, and it took me about five minutes.

Because what gets a book to buoy up to the surface of the reading (and entertainment) ocean–and stay there, for a while–is the number of reviews it has (and not what they say, exactly). The more reviews, the more people who find the book somehow start to think, “Hmm. That might be interesting, because so many other people thought it was.” They also know that many more people (than the number of reviewers) bought the book as well, but didn’t review it.

S’il vous plaĂźt…Just do it. Because I did.

Merci!

My new motto, grĂące Ă  Steve Martin

One of my “Sisters in Crime,”* a talented editor, posted this quote on Facebook today:

Be so good they can’t ignore you.

– Steve Martin

Good advice for any field, she said. However, I’m going further. I’m making it my (new) motto.

Some things to know about writing books are:

  1. A gazillion other people are doing it;
  2. Not all of those other people are publishing independently (self-publishing) – about half of all books now are self-published, with the other half published by a small, medium, or large press;
  3. No matter who you are, how your work is published, or what you do, it’s very difficult to stand out (not be ignored) – and, if you’ve self-published anything, no matter how good it is, you’re likely to be viewed as not good enough;
  4. People are reading less and less (well, not everybody, but lots) and spending more time watching movies, TV, and on other media;
  5. Even if your work is really, really good, there’s no guarantee it will get noticed.

I’ve self-published fiction and nonfiction, and my (originally self-published) novel UNDERWATER was acquired and rereleased by a traditional publisher.** Somehow, they found it (I didn’t approach them). Was it so good that they – “they” – couldn’t ignore it? I don’t know, but I did the best job I could, writing it.

My next book (ALL THE ABOVE) was already written, edited, and ready for publication when that novel was rereleased. But I waited a few months before publishing it, myself. I wanted it to be so good that it wouldn’t get ignored.

Over the previous two years, I had poured my heart into writing ALL THE ABOVE. I got feedback from my writers’ group, beta readers, and my freelance editor. I made all the recommended changes. I combed through it for mistakes and typos. I paid attention to the details. I wrote the back cover copy, and approved the design created by my cover artist. Last March, I released it in paperback and on Kindle. Since then, it’s been selling steadily and has received 24 Reviews on Amazon.

It’s hard to get noticed, to stand out, and not to be ignored. But I’m inspired now, to be so good that they can’t ignore me.

One word at a time.

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*A national mystery/thriller writers organization

**Thomas & Mercer

 

Friday music – to an author’s ears

While checking email over my morning coffee today, I was thrilled to discover that a reader had just posted a 5 star review of my first novel, MAKE THAT DEUX! 

“GREAT BOOK!! I LOVE IT!” she said. “I really enjoyed reading this book. I liked all of the different characters and reading about their adventures. It never got boring. It kept me wanting to keep reading and reading. Great story!!!”

She had already read my third book, ALL THE ABOVE, which is nonfiction (a true story), and a very different type of book. Here’s what she said about that:

“I read this book in two days! I felt so many different emotions while reading it. I felt so sorry for the family to have to deal with this horrible and scary situation. Poor Jack having to go through cancer treatments while in the beginning of his college career. The book was very well written and an honest story of how the family coped during this time of tragedy. It showed how the McDermott family relied on their strong faith while so many obstacles were being thrown their way. I loved this book and had a hard time putting it down.”

I thanked her on Goodreads (she’d posted her reviews there, and on Amazon), and asked if she might consider reading my 2nd book, suspense novel UNDERWATER. She replied, “You’re welcome 🙂 I actually already read Underwater last year and loved it as well! I can’t wait to read your next one!”

All of that got my Friday (and my weekend, and month) off to a wonderful start! So, to celebrate, I thought I would share some (very old) photos from my year in Montpellier, France, the experience on which my novel MAKE THAT DEUX is based. (And it’s NOT a true story! Novel = Fiction!)

The handwritten words are grùce à one of my girlfriends, with whom I shared an apartment in Palavas* that year, and the photos come from a collage she made for me:

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Me (left), another girlfriend (right), and the teenage son of our program’s directrice, on a visit to Carcassonne…

 

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Like Jenny in MAKE THAT DEUX, sometimes I actually studied!

Our apartment building is still there…

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I’m on the right, with 2 girlfriends and the French boyfriend of one!

*Palavas-les-flots, a beach town 20 minutes away, where we livedFullSizeRender

List Post: Nouvelle AnnĂ©e – janvier 2016

  • Read my author interview by fellow Sister in Crime author Linda Sands on Wednesday, January 13 on her blog. I’ll be answering Linda’s funky questions about my book ALL THE ABOVE.
  • Then on Thursday and Friday, January 14 and 15, fellow Atlanta Writers Club member and author Rona Simmons will host me on the Virtual Village Book Festival on Facebook. From 10 am on 1/14 to 5 pm on 1/15, you can ask me questions on this interactive event!
  • Book 4 is ready! (See word count details below.) I’ll be revealing the TITLE soon. Estimated release date: late February or early March 2016.

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AND — 

Since this is my second “Nouvelle AnnĂ©e” Post, I thought I would look back to a year ago and add comments and updates. Here is what I wrote in January 2015. Comments are in blue.

  • Almost finished UN-decorating the house for the holiday season (This year, I got it done on the last day of 2015. Because I spent Christmas in France, there was less to take down.)
  • Writing back on schedule, after more than two weeks when I couldn’t remember what day of the week it was (Hmm..getting back on track TODAY!)
  • Several signed copies of UNDERWATER are available for purchase at Dunwoody Bakery, open Wednesdays through Saturdays (Alas, the bakery closed last year. If you would like a signed copy of UNDERWATER or ALL THE ABOVE, contact me, or order via PayPal on my Home page). 
  • Looking forward to my “Member Minute” talk at the Atlanta Writers Club meeting on January 17, 2015 at 1:30 pm, at Georgia Perimeter College (This year, I’ll be doing two virtual events in January – see above.)
  • On the horizon: My appearance at the Augusta Literary Festival on March 6-7. Looking forward to attending, meeting readers and signing books (No festivals coming up as of yet in 2016, but I’ll keep you posted.)
  • Planning the release of my work of creative nonfiction, titled ALL THE ABOVE this spring (It came out on March 24, 2015!)
  • Resolving to step up my exercise routine this year (Ditto.)
  • Cheering for the Cowboys and the Seahawks during the NFL playoffs (Not sure about this yet – Still celebrating Falcons victory over the Panthers!)
  • Happy that I’m traveling to Chapel Hill, NC in April and in May (I’ll be in the area this year in May again, and may be before.)
  • Glad to share family news with close friends and family. (Last year began with that good news.)

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Finally – a postscript for all you “Pizza and a Movie” post followers:

My Top 5 Movies of 2015:

  1. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens
  2. Bridge of Spies
  3. The Gift
  4. Brooklyn
  5. Inside Out

And – here are 5 Movies I missed seeing, and want to see:

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road
  2. The Martian
  3. Creed
  4. Steve Jobs
  5. The Big Short *

*Actually, I saw this just after Christmas in France, but it was dubbed in French. I understood it 😀  – but still want to see the English language version soon.

 

List Post: dĂ©cembre 2015 + HOLIDAY POEM!

It’s a very short list, and I love it!

  1. Write
  2. Seek/plan/look forward to the publication of my next Suspense novel
  3. Go to France (read on…)

 

Here’s my holiday poem, two thousand fifteen.

A year filled with suspense, and yet, sometimes, serene.

Underwater was published in German*, last winter.

After months of translation, it went to the printer.

 

Then in March, I released the book, All the Above,

a true story of hope, and of courage, and love.

It took 2 years to write, lots of blood, sweat, and tears,

and it’s my “open book” of my son, and my fears.

 

Just before, with my husband, to Texas, I flew.

We visited fam’ly, gave them a preview.

Since fall of last year, I’ve been writing “Book 4.”

I am finished, and, of it, I soon will say more.

 

In the fall, to a conference in Raleigh, I went.

Then to Nashville, another, and at both, time well spent.

At the end of the year, it’s to France I’ll vacation,

Besides this one, the French one’s my favorite nation.

 

I send you my holiday wishes for peace

For joy and for laughter, and for troubles to cease.

I hope that you’ll find, as gifts, under the tree,

A book that I’ve penned, or two, or even three!

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*Unter Wasser in German

 

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List Post: octobre 2015

It’s only October 2nd, but I’m going to be so busy this month that if I don’t get this done now, it won’t happen.

  • It’s Promotion month for UNDERWATER: Yesterday through October 31st, you can download my Suspense novel set in my home town of Atlanta for only $1.99! UNDERWATER is an Amazon HALLOWEEN KINDLE BOOK DEAL. Look for it under Mysteries/Suspense — Suspense — Psychological!

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  • My trip to Raleigh is fast approaching! I’ll be a “Dark Romance and Dark Smiles” Panelist at Bouchercon next Friday at 10:00 a.m, and the next day I’ll be at the New Author Breakfast bright and early at 7:00 a.m.!
  • Note: even though I’m a graduate of UNC Chapel Hill, I once worked in Durham, have visited Duke, and have flown in and out of RDU several times, this will be my very first trip to the state capital of Raleigh. I hear it’s nice. And I feel pretty comfortable in that neck of the woods, anyway.
  • My other appearances this month include the Book and Art Fair in Griffin GA Oct 16-18; book signing with fellow Sister in Crime Hank Phillippi Ryan at FoxTale Book Shoppe in Woodstock GA Oct 21; and book signing at the Marietta Queen of Hearts Antiques & Interiors Oct 24 with authors Valerie Connors & Mike Buchanan. (See News and Events for times and details.)
  • At the end of the month, I’ll be at the Killer Nashville International Writers Conference with some Atlanta Sisters in Crime! My first time at this conference, and my third time ever (I think) in Nashville!
  • November Preview: in between 2 quick trips to Florida (I hope) I’ll appear yet again with some Sisters at the Ansley Book Club Meeting in Atlanta! Details to come.
  • Quoi d’autre? What else? Watching football, of course!

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