New York Times bestselling author Caroline Leavitt and podcaster/book enthusiast Robin Kall recognized that — amid the coronavirus shut-downs — authors with new books being released (*raising my hand*) are having their events canceled.
On Twitter, they initially made a call for authors to record videos of themselves talking about their book, discussing the authors who influenced the writing of that book, and to cap it off by giving a shout-out to local independent bookstores.
I enthusiastically agreed to join their virtual author series and recorded my awkward video (see above) while praying Max and Tedy wouldn’t start howling outside my office door.
In the video — the link to which I’ve emailed Leavitt — I give a shout-out to Tatnuck Booksellers in Westborough, where I hosted my book launch and from where you can purchase signed copies of Uncomfortably Numb.
My husband Scott kicked off the event at Tatnuck Bookseller — shout out to independent book stores! — as he comically lamented the lot of those who are married to writers and who ultimately see bits of their lives used as grist for books and articles. (He’s a very good sport about it.)
After detailing how I came to write the memoir, I read a few excerpts and later signed copies.
I was honored to meet two fellow MS patients who shared their experiences with me. Hopefully I’ll meet many more as I continue to promote Uncomfortably Numb.
My daughter Abbey and her college roommate Stephanie helped out at the book table, where we collected donations for the National MS Society. (My son Casey, it should be noted, surprised me by coming home from school to celebrate the release.)
I’m looking forward to the next book event: March 28 at 1 p.m. at the Holyoke, MA Barnes & Noble.
Bay Path University played host to its 16th Writers’ Day this past weekend, as scribes talked about how to effectively read one’s work aloud in front of a crowd (Charles Coe, All Sins Forgiven poet and author extraordinaire!) and how to turn family documents, handwritten letters, and memories into an intergenerational memoir (the fabulous Patricia Reis, Motherlinesauthor).
The final panel was packed with tales from three writers–Kinship of Clover’s Ellen Meeropol, This is How It Begins’ Joan Dempsey, and yours truly (see above photos)–who discussed how we used events in the world and in our own lives to inspire our writing, as well as how we folded current events into existing narratives on which we were working. My presentation focused on the real life events in my town of Southborough that inspired Mr. Clark’s Big Band, and how I worked events such as the Newtown school shooting and the Boston Marathon bombing into my book about a middle school jazz band.
Thank you to author and educator Suzanne Strempek Shea for putting these panels together and for affording us the opportunity to spend an afternoon talking about one of our favorite subjects: writing.
Award-winning writer Suzanne Strempek Shea, author of nine books, including novels and works of nonfiction, praises Mr. Clark’s Big Band:
With a journalist’s commitment, a teacher’s passion and a mother’s heart, Meredith O’Brien brings her readers to a community leveled by sudden loss then bundled in music’s ability to heal. As well as illustrating the author’s stellar talent, Mr. Clark’s Big Band shows her radar for a timeless story, one that underlines in gold the power of the unsung heroes all around us.
Strempek Shea teaches creative writing in the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast MFA program, and is the writer-in-residence and director of the creative writing program at Bay Path University.