My Next Big Thing

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IMG_2095Thanks to my friend and Beyond the Margins co-blogger, Dell Smith, I’ve been invited to participate in an online literary blog called My Next Big Thing.

The blog is a series of questions about my work-in-progress. Many national and international writers have participated. It gives readers a glimpse into the working life of a writer. Part of the fun is tagging someone else, and it is with great delight that I will be tagging three other writers at the end of this post.

And away we go.

What is the working title of your book? Stumbling Toward Normal … or … Now That You’re Here. Still not sure. Please feel free to make your preference known—or suggest a new one—in the comments section below.

Where did the idea come from for the book? I woke up one morning with a scene in my head: a damp, gray, windy day; two mourners at the site of a new grave. The woman is the dead man’s girlfriend, and she’s drunk. The man is the dead man’s brother, and he’s furious. It was very clear and compelling, and I got up and wrote the scene almost immediately. I was in the middle of another project, but the need to know what would happen to these two kept invading my thoughts. I found myself going back to write another chapter, then another, until I abandoned that first project altogether.

What genre does your book fall under? General Fiction or Women’s Fiction—which I think of as family and relationship drama, though there is humor in it, too.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?             Amy Adams and Mark Wahlberg, in their best Boston accents from The Fighter. Or maybe Jeremy Renner and Jennifer Lawrence—I loved her quirky toughness in Silver Linings Playbook.

What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book?  A ten-year alcoholic, Cass Macklin finds that in her darkest moment she’s been given something she never thought she’d have—she’s pregnant—and decides to try and get sober so she can keep the baby.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? Ten months, which is crazy fast for me.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?                            Everything Changes by Jonathan Tropper, Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp, The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Who or what inspired you to write this book? As I mentioned above, it kind of came out of nowhere. But I have a few recovering alcoholics in my life, and I have to say I really adore them. It takes a very special kind of person to embrace recovery, and to keep at it day after day.

What else about your book might pique a reader’s interest? Cass enlists the help of her late boyfriend’s brother, Scott, whom she’s known since their grim childhoods in the same Boston neighborhood. Scotty now plays third base for the Red Sox and lives in a tony Boston suburb, but is still the bitter, disconnected guy she’s always known. They forge a tentative alliance, and as Cass learns to reach out and get help, they are both drawn into unfamiliar territory with unlikely allies in order to keep this baby healthy and safe.

When and how will it be published? It will be published to clamorous, garment-rending acclaim, and toasted on every talk show and telephone pole flyer in America … *daydream ends, writer blinks and reenters reality* …

Um, actually, I’m not sure, yet. But if you’re interested, you could sign up for my infrequent yet scintillating newsletter, and I’ll let you know as soon as I do.

And now it’s my honor to tag and introduce you to three wonderful writers. Please look for upcoming posts on their Next Big Thing.

Nichole Bernier is author of the novel THE UNFINISHED WORK OF ELIZABETH D (Crown/Random House, 2012), a finalist for the New England Booksellers Fiction Award, and has written for publications including Psychology Today, Salon, Elle, Self, Health, and Men’s Journal. A Contributing Editor for Conde Nast Traveler for 14 years, she was previously on staff as the magazine’s golf and ski editor, columnist, and television spokesperson. She is a founder of the literary blog Beyond the Margins, and lives outside of Boston with her husband and five children. She can be found online at and on Twitter @nicholebernier.

Cara Black lives in San Francisco with her husband, a bookseller, and son. She writes the award nominated and bestselling Aimée Leduc Investigation series set in different parts of Paris. She has dog who’s not as well behaved as her detective Aimée Leduc’s dog but does drink as much espresso as Aimée does.

Ania Szado‘s first novel, BEGINNING OF WAS, was regionally shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, Best First Book. It will be re-released in 2013 along with her second novel, STUDIO SAINT-EX, which has been sold for publication in Canada, USA, Russia, Italy and Poland. Her short fiction has appeared in literary journals and magazines, and in the anthology ALL SLEEK AND SKIMMING. Ania is a graduate of Ontario College of Art and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from University of British Columbia. She was born in Hamilton, Ontario and lives in Toronto. Connect with Ania via Twitter, Facebook, or her website.

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17 Responses to “My Next Big Thing”

  1. Juliette Fay Says:

    June 2nd, 2013 at 10:02 am

    Thanks, Betty! Hope you enjoy it.

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  4. Juliette Says:

    March 10th, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    Susan, you just made me grin so wide! Just what every author longs to hear. Thank you so much for your enthusiasm and kind words – it really means the world to me!

  5. susan walsh Says:

    March 10th, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    I’ve read all of your books, and have loved them all, but The Shortest Way Home. . . what can I say. I loved it so much, I wish I had read slower so I could enjoy it longer. I love the way you delve into your characters and develop them into people I really care about and don’t forget about. I was happy to get an update on Janie and her cousin Cormac from Shelter Me. I so hope to get an update on Sean and his family in a future novel. I won’t forget about Sean and Kevin and Rebecca and Aunt Vivvy. . .Diedre for a long time. Thank you. (xo)

    Oh and yes, this new one sounds like another I’ll love. You just keep getting better and better.

  6. Isis Wisdom Says:

    February 11th, 2013 at 12:53 am

    Hi Juliette,
    How about “Stumbling Towards Here” or “Stumbling Towards Now” or “Stumbling Towards Presence”…
    Now That You’re Here makes me immediately think of all those light clever romantic comedy series, and Stumbling Toward…. is more like your other titles, one anticipates the interpretation.
    Sounds like it will be a lot about a conscious awareness.
    I’m clamorously rending my garments as we speak, and salivating.
    And definitely Jennifer Lawrence.
    Looking forward to it! :))

  7. Juliette Says:

    February 10th, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    Thanks so much, Dell and Megan. I’m loving the input on title. When I sit down with the powers that be to finalize the decision, it will really help when I sit down with the powers that be to finalize it. I’m looking forward to reading yours, too, Dell! And thanks for tagging me on this assignment – it was really fun. Check out Dell’s post on his Next Big Thing:

  8. Dell Smith Says:

    February 10th, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    Wow, this sounds great. Wonderful premise. I can totally see you dropping everything to write that scene. I look forward to this book regardless of title – BTW I’m partial to Now That You’re Here.

  9. Megan Lucier Says:

    February 9th, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    The new story sounds fantastic. I’d have to choose Now That You’re Here for the title but would happily read anything you wrote under any name.

  10. Juliette Says:

    February 9th, 2013 at 9:06 am

    Hi Sandie – I’m glad Stumbling Toward Normal intrigues you – thanks for commenting!

  11. Juliette Says:

    February 9th, 2013 at 9:05 am

    Thanks, Heidi. So interesting – and helpful – to hear people’s title preferences. Thanks for taking the time to weigh in, and I hope you’ll like it no matter what the title ends up being!

  12. Sandie W Says:

    February 8th, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    I haven’t read any of your books, but “Stumbling Toward Normal” is now on my must read lists! Love the title!

  13. Heidi Says:

    February 8th, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    I am looking forward to this one! I prefer “Now That You’re Here” for a title.

  14. Juliette Says:

    February 7th, 2013 at 11:20 pm

    So glad you’re enjoying The Shortest Way Home, Barbara, and that you like the title of my new one (even though it could change). I’ll take as many “shameless” fans like you that I can get! 🙂

  15. Barbara Says:

    February 7th, 2013 at 8:08 pm

    Looking forward to this one. Stumbling Towards Normal sounds good. It’s more like your previous titles which are mysterious and catchy.
    Herb’s suggestion sounds good, too.
    Now That You Are Here sounds like a light romantic comedy to me.
    It depends on the aura that you want the book to have.

    I’m reading the Shortest Way Home now. I’m so glad that you have returned to the same community as Shelter Me. Hopefully this new story is in the same place and the characters are connected in some way to the previous ones. I have liked your characters so much that it’s good to keep up with them.

    Maybe a follow up on Father Teabag? I felt bad for him.
    Mostly, keep writing, please. I’m a shameless fan.

  16. Juliette Says:

    February 5th, 2013 at 9:18 pm

    Thanks for your thoughts, Herb! Interesting suggestion on the title, too. And I’m glad you like the Red Sox thread – though I don’t have any Fenway area frat houses in it!

  17. Herb Baker Says:

    February 5th, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    Sounds like you can make a really good story out of that! I like “Now That You’re Here” slightly better as a title because it makes me anticipate what’s happening next more than “Stumbling Toward Normal.” But the word “Stumbling” is catchy… How about “I’ll Do This for You” (mother whispers to her baby).

    I like the idea of a Red Sox story line. (My son’s frat house was less than 1/2 mile from Fenway.)

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