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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.