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THE BEST BIRTHDAY TRADITION

By Nora Zelevansky / November 9th, 2012

My friend S.D. and I have a tradition: On our birthdays, we send each other packages of either strange (but enticing) or indulgent foods from companies across the country.

The whole thing started during my sophomore year in college, when SD—with whom I’ve been friends since we were four—first sent me a candy bouquet.  Let’s just say I can’t believe how long its been since my 19th birthday and what we’ve sent each other in that time: We’ve exchanged everything from artisanal Baked marshmallows (support Red Hook!) and Zabar’s cheese crackers to salt and flavored popcorn, dark chocolate spreads and chili-infused brownie bites.

For a while, thanks to S.D., I was even a member of the Jelly Belly fan club (yup, I’m admitting that), which meant that I got advanced tasters of any new flavors that were coming out.  Yeah, I tasted the Dr. Pepper flavor waaaay before it came out.  No big deal.  I’m not bragging or anything.  Don’t hold it against me: It’s not my fault if that makes me cool.

Anyway, this Monday is my birthday yet again.  (They seem to come quicker as you get older, right?)  And today I was feeling a little blue.

This has been an amazing year, for sure.  My husband Drewser and I moved from LA back to NYC, my debut novel was published, I even just returned home from a great trip to LA, where I got to teach a Writing Workshop at Scripps College (my alma mater) and work on a feature for ELLE.

But, in the aftermath of Sandy, this is an odd time on the east coast.  Though, for me, the Obama news is happy as can be.  Writing my second book is turning out to be a slightly different process than the first time around, a bit more pressured, less carefree.  Also, I guess the passage of time always make us pensive.

Anyway, I was feeling melancholy.  But then I received S.D.’s gift for this year!  It was the above super adorable and well-designed box of Parisian Macarons from Macaron Café in NYC, from which I will most definitely sample while writing my NaNoWriMo words today.  Just the kind of writing motivation I needed and something cheerful to remind me that birthdays may be strange sometimes, but they also can be sweet.

xo – N.

PS Does anyone else think that this post should be read to the tune of That’s What Friend Are For?

 

The Best Review That I Missed

By Nora Zelevansky / August 15th, 2012

A picture from the window of Book Hampton in Southampton, NY taken by my friend Rachel Meis

As I’ve admitted time and time again (almost as if I have no impulse control—ahem), for the first few weeks after my book came out, I spent a psychotic amount of my time trolling the Internet for Semi-Charmed Life reviews.

Sad, but true, especially since I nodded so agreeably each time a kind friend told me not to pay attention to the reviews, as reviewers can sometimes forget that there’s a person on the other end feeling stung.  Totally.  I won’t even look.  Until five minutes from now.  When I will be huddled over my laptop, rocking and mumbling like a lunatic.

I read a lot of tweets recounting the lyrics of the 90’s song by the same name and I’m here to report that there are some very angsty people out there and some really big Third Eye Blind fans.  But I also came across some great write-ups, on top of the ones I was lucky enough to anticipate in advance from ELLE, Daily Candy, Flavorpill and The Pittsburgh Post Gazette (to name a few, if I MUST!).

Honestly, I would list every amazing blog write-up here, if I could without seeming like a total … I was going to say “crazy person” but I’ve sort of already established myself as that above.  And, in a way to me, they’re all amazing because you can’t possibly please everyone, but you just have to feel grateful that people are reading the book!

And then a couple days ago, I realized something: I’d missed one!  There are a few major publishing trade publications, who generally review books before they come out.  One is Publisher’s Weekly and they were kind enough to checkout and write-up SCL.  My publisher had mentioned that Booklist, another of these trades which largely targets librarians, was reviewing the novel.  Suddenly, I remembered that I’d never seen it.

I emailed my publicist at St. Martin’s Press, who sent it over right away.  And it was good!  And it kind of captured the book!  And it was from July 1!  And I was psyched!  And here it is:

[***SPOILER ALERT! Gives away a lot of plot!]

Semi-Charmed Life.
Zelevansky, Nora (Author) Jul 2012. 304 p. St. Martin’s/Griffin, paperback, $14.99. (9781250001184).
Chick lit takes a trip down the rabbit hole in this first novel. Twenty-one-year-old Beatrice Bernstein, of the Upper West Side artist Bernsteins, has never left New York City. A flu-induced wish on a mohawked pigeon starts a strange journey through her senior year in college. First, her student housing is a basement apartment full of cockroaches. Then, instead of studying Latin American literature, she finds herself ghost- writing a blog about the art world for socialite Veruca Pfeffernoose. She also gets a new wardrobe, travels around the world, alienates best friend Dolly, foils a plot by thieving hipster goons, and, of course, gets the guy. One thing she does not do is figure out how to navigate Veruca’s ever-changing loft, until she starts to follow disappearing clues found in her precious moleskin notebook. Beatrice is hard not to like, smart but just naive enough to get caught up in Veruca’s fabulous world. The narration is full of giddy pop-culture references, and the story is told with a sort of gleeful cynicism that only fails at the too-neat ending.
— Susan Maguire

There’s hardly ever such thing as a perfect review, but I think, even from the midst of my book insanity haze, that you have to walk away feeling good about the overwhelming positives because otherwise you really will lose your mind.

xo – N.

The Best Part of a Book Tour (& 2 Upcoming Readings!)

By Nora Zelevansky / August 9th, 2012

My Signing at Powell’s in Portland; Photo Compliments of Anna Lobell

Unless you’re a serious bigwig, publishers don’t organize and send you on lavish book tours these days.  They do help you organize, but ultimately you take yourself.  That’s why I chose to visit places—to read from Semi-Charmed Life—where I had friends and/or family who I got to see (an extra plus!).

I started in NYC (where I live), traveled to LA (where I used to live), headed to SF (where Hotel Palomar had ever so kindly offered to host an event), then to Portland (where I just love it—that alone, plus getting to see friends, was enough of a motivating factor) and onto Pittsburgh and the Hamptons from there.

Powell’s Bookstores, a Portland institution, were an Oregon draw too.  I had visited the original Powell’s years ago when my husband Andrew “Drewser” and I took the most unbelievable winter road trip up into Oregon from LA (through Northern Cali wine country too!) and then back down the coast.  I am a lover of bookstores and this one made an impact.  Also, the city is so proud of Powell’s and that’s rare in this online shopping filled world.

Anyway,  the trip from city to city gave me new found appreciation for real performers.  Though the feeling subsided a bit as I gained more experience, I still got nervous and nauseous before every reading or event, I’d be comfortable while reading (and trying to turn on the energy!), I’d have a rush afterward and then, finally, I’d crash.  Then, it was onto the next city.  That tuckers a person out!

Two parts of that basic repetitive cycle stood out for me as my favorite.  I LOVE the interaction with readers, so the Q & A and/or discussion portions are great.  There’s something so rewarding about having people ask you fantastic questions about a project that you pondered mostly alone for the longest time.  (That’s why I hope to make myself available to Book Clubs for author discussions via phone, Skype or iChat.)  The signing is an extension of that experience and, in some ways, that’s even better because you get to have one-on-one conversations with readers about your experience.  And every so often you even meet a young person, who wants to be a writer and says she is inspired to try in part by your book.  What could be better than that?  That slays me.

My second favorite part of the readings is the dinner and drinks afterward.  Ha!  That’s probably not considered ‘part of the book experience” per se.  But to be in a slightly random city and to spend time with a group of friends who I rarely get to see and to go to some awesome local restaurant (which I don’t have to pick because I’m clueless about the AREA!) and to eat delicious food and sip stiff drinks—I mean, that is not an everyday occurrence.  (I also lucked out because two of my amazing friends came with me to SF and Portland, just to be supportive and fun!)

Next up, I have a reading on Monday, August 20th at 5pm at Blue Bicycle Books in Charleston, SC.  After that, I have a reading in Rehoboth, DE at Browse About Books on Monday, August 27th at 7pm.  I don’t know a lot of people in either area, so—as usual—I’m just hoping (and worrying!) that a decent amount of people will show up.

I’m looking forward to the readings, of course, and I know I’ll see a couple familiar and hopefully some brand new faces at both!  And, in both of those delicious cities with specialties from fried grits to blue crabs, afterward I’ll likely stuff my face.

xo – N.

 

The Bestselling Paperback! (Well, One Week)

By Nora Zelevansky / August 9th, 2012

I don’t know in what romantic ways I imagined I might spend my time as a new author.  Maybe wistfully staring out at sea … from my Brooklyn apartment window.

In reality, I waste hours (between trips to bookstores to stare without purpose at copies of my novel on “New Paperbacks” tables) checking various websites to gauge how Semi-Charmed Life is fairing out in the world.  Occasionally, I’m rewarded with a new positive rating or review or a low Amazon Rank (which I recently wrote about authors obsessively checking for The Huffington Post), but most of the time I’m just staring at numbers, having no real sense of what they mean.

So, last week, when I awoke to find an email in my inbox with a link to the above from my friend L.T. (the blogger behind Hollywood Housewife and also the wonderfully generous person who threw me an amazing LA book party), I was thrilled.  Basically, Book Soup, which is one of LA’s treasured bookstores (yeah, people read there too—A LOT), posted their weekly top sellers on their site and my book topped the list!  Finally, a metric I could understand!

Of course, I was beyond excited.  So excited, in fact, that I stopped checking Amazon … for at least a few extra hours.

xo – N.

A Couple of Firsts: My First Book Event & My First Sighting of SEMI-CHARMED LIFE in Stores!

By Nora Zelevansky / June 28th, 2012

The above left is a picture taken by my sister-in-law K. at my first ever book event this past week (along with a pic of the beautiful Georgetown Cupcakes — fitting because my hubby Drewser is from DC — on hand next to stacks of MY BOOKS)!  And that’s just the beginning of what’s been up, as I’ve gotten closer and closer to the book actually launching on July 3rd!

As you guys know, I’ve never done this whole novel thing before: So far, I know that it takes quite a while and that it’s a lot of hard work.  Now, I am just so grateful and excited to reap the benefits of all that effort (on my part and on the part of my agent and editor etc.)!

First of all, the SEMI-CHARMED LIFE reading, signing & shopping fest (at boutique 143 Ludlow owned by Sophomore designer Chrissie Miller, who I’ve known since my curfew was 11:30pm) was incredibly fun, at least for me.  It was organized in part by Gilt City, who not only created the below beautiful online invitation (which is blurry because I am a technologically challenged, which is code for “a dinosaur”), but also were incredible on the day of the event:

Anyway, I wore this Aryn K. dress that fits like a glove with a new Rag & Bone belt I got for not so much at their recent sample sale (which has changed my wardrobe, but that is really not the point of this post).  The people who attended the book event were beyond lovely, the reading seemed to go smoothly and the signing was probably my favorite part because I got to meet all these interesting and interested people.  And then about 70 of them walked away with my book, taking it out into the world for the first time for the public to actually read.  And that made everything feel amazingly real.

The wine at the party, donated by Suncé out of Sonoma County’s bucolic Russian River area, was not only really good, but they actually surprised me by putting the cover of the book ON the actual bottle labels.  I mean, how amazing is that?  It’s the little things.  And the big thing too (at least when it comes to presents).  I mean you, Drewser!  Aveda, Liz Earle and Stila donated beauty products for the gift bags and that included Stila’s soon to be discontinued (sad!) “Purple Tang” eyeliner that is featured in SEMI-CHARMED LIFE as a prop for marking the main character Beatrice’s way home.

ANYWAY, that was my only preview event.  The book comes out on July 3rd and since that’s a holiday weekend/week (when people will hopefully grab the book as a beach read!), the readings start on July 9th.  I’m traveling all over the country, so definitely do check the “Events” tab on my website for all the info!  Also, join my Facebook Author Page for updates of all kinds on readings, reviews and general book happenings!

So, here I am waiting for the book to show up on July 3rd, when I was surprised to discover my book ALREADY ON SHELVES!!!!!!! at Book Court in Cobble Hill, when I stopped in.  I actually surprised myself, as I literally almost starting crying right there in the store.  (I held it together because I didn’t want to scare the nice staff there.)  I snapped some photos (including the above) and then wandered home impervious to the heat, listening to music on my iPod and feeling … I don’t know … proud of myself.  And that’s a weirdly rare feeling, no?  Too rare, if you ask me.

Anyway, I will stop blathering on now!  More to come, when there’s … well, more to come!

xo – N.

THE BEST (Well, First) JACKET COVER!

By Nora Zelevansky / May 17th, 2012

Screen shot 2012-05-17 at 2.11.02 PM

Usually the jackets I get excited about have zippers or buttons.  This one is a little different: It's the jacket cover for my book Semi-Charmed Life!

I am beyond psyched and not just because my name appears to be spelled correctly.  (My worst fear was that it will be wrong, which you no doubt understand if you went through life with a name anything like "Zelevansky.")  It's all getting a bit more real as I get closer to the release date.

Anyway, here's it is on the wooden floor of my living room.

And here it is below in black and white … because I have lost my mind and can't think about anything else.

That high-level distraction is ALSO why I missed this first Bachelorette recap post.  I know some of my friends and fellow fans feel like Emily is too much to take, but I am on board.  One episode in and I'm already hooked.  Plus, after Ben F. and Ashley H., I feel like I need this as a palate cleanser.  The Bachelor and Bachelorette should be all Southern or Middle American and Barbie and Ken-like, I think.  It works best like this.

xo – N.

P.S. If you'd like to find out about my upcoming book readings in various cities, you can become a fan of my author page on FB and you'll get alerted to all that information!  (Who am I?  It's so weird to say things like this!)

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