Wednesday, February 18, 2009

We have a winner, folks!

Kelly Simmons has chosen a winner to receive an autographed copy of her book, Standing Still.

Congratulations to Gail F. (the first one) whose comment "So, is this your first sweater?" tickled Kelly's funny bone. She writes, "It both cracked me up and very much hit home, since I just finished knitting a sweater on Monday (my second one, I'll have you know.)"

She also wishes to thank everyone who left a comment, and I do as well! Come back and visit some time!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

So you're an author, huh?

Dear readers, I'm excited to announce that author Kelly Simmons (Standing Still) has graciously offered to write a guest post for New Dork Times. She's also giving away one autographed copy of her book to the person whose comment makes her laugh, intrigues her, or just plain catches her eye. Please leave a comment by Feb. 16, 4:30 p.m. central to be entered into the giveaway. Read on!

So You’re An Author, huh?

“Is this your first book?”

It’s the first question everyone asks, at every book club, every cocktail party, every casual conversation I have with another mom on the soccer field or volleyball court, as soon as one of my friends tell them I’m a writer and have they read my fabulous book, Standing Still? (Thank God for my chatty outgoing friends. If they worked in Hollywood I’d have that elusive movie deal wrapped up already.)

And it’s a simple question on the face of it, and yet, not an easy question for me to answer. Because while it is my first published book, it also occupies other numbers. The 8th novel I’ve written. The 5th novel that agents have evaluated. The 4th novel that made the rounds of editors, represented by my 3rd agent. The novel that came out after more than 15 years of writing and 3 years of editing.

These numbers are fascinating to some, and absolutely soul-crushing to others, so I have to be careful how I wield them. In a classroom full of MFA candidates, or a library full of would-be memoirists, or a book club filled with “Ihaveabookinme” types, these numbers scare the crap out of people. They’re dispiriting, discouraging, and well, kinda make me look like a loser. (When you spend 15 years doing something with no success, after all, what is the freaking universe telling you?)

Every so often, there is a brave follow-up question: What made you go on, in the face of so much rejection? I suspect people expect me to claim faith in a higher power, or a driving need to feed my family (remember JK Rowling in the coffee shop and her utilities turned off?). Or perhaps, they crave a more literary motivation: I promised my mother on her deathbed that I wouldn’t stop writing. My older brother is a rocket scientist and I have to prove that I’m smart too.

But the answer is smaller, and subtler: I knew I was a good writer. And while getting rejected was a bummer, writing gave me a simple pleasure, like planting bulbs or knitting a sweater. For many years, it has been my garden. And not everyone likes everything I plant. But I get to look at it, and enjoy it, everyday.

And that’s not for nothing, y’know?

Kelly Simmons, a former journalist and advertising creative director, is the author of Standing Still, in paperback February 10, and coming soon, The Bird House. She visits as many book clubs as she can (here’s a great article in The Philadelphia Inquirer about her visiting clubs: And she’s now offering an exclusive Book Group DVD to those she can’t. For more information, see her website:, or email her at

Thursday, February 05, 2009

The Heretic's Daughter, by Kathleen Kent

The Heretic's Daughter chronicles the struggles of life in colonial Massachusetts: the backbreaking labor of farming, the terrors of smallpox, and the accusations of witchcraft from a superstitious community.

Sarah Carrier, 10, becomes aware of a land/house dispute between her mother Martha and her beloved uncle. An unpopularity within their small community, combined with Martha's unusual ways, sparks a cry of witchcraft, egged on by Sarah's uncle and cousin. Martha is jailed and put on trial, soon to be joined by Sarah and her three brothers.

The writing, first of all, is spectacular. Based on Kent's own family history, in which her grandmother nine generations back was hanged as a witch, Heretic's Daughter weaves despair and hope, bleakness and triumph. The mass amount of research put into this work is evident, but it doesn't bog down the story. It instead enriches the tale and helps create unforgettable characters.

4.5 stars

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Coming Soon ...

I'm sorry, my lonely blog. I've neglected you, haven't I? But never fear, I vow to update on a regular basis from now on. I've been reading some delicious YA books, and I know you'll want to familiarize yourself with them.

And I have an amazing surprise ...

Coming soon ...