Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Susie Orman Schnall shines her light on us...plus a book giveaway

We're so glad to have Susie Orman Schnall back at CLC to celebrate the publication of her latest novel, We Came Here to Shine. Susie radiates light and kindness and we're so pleased to have had her here for multiple visits. We Came Here to Shine is a delight (check out Melissa A's review) and we can't wait to share it with you. Susie is here today to talk about her writing journey via an imagined letter she’d write to her 10-year-ago self. Thanks to St. Martin's Press, we have one print copy to give away! 

Susie Orman Schnall is the award-winning author of THE SUBWAY GIRLS, THE BALANCE PROJECT, and ON GRACE. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications including The New York Times, HuffPost, POPSUGAR, Writer’s Digest, Harper's Bazaar, and Glamour; and she is also a frequent speaker at women’s groups, corporations, libraries, bookstores, and book clubs. Susie grew up in Los Angeles, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, and now lives in New York with her husband and their three sons.

Visit Susie online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Set during the iconic 1939 New York World’s Fair, two intrepid young women―an aspiring journalist and a down-on-her-luck actress―form an unlikely friendship as they navigate a world of endless possibility, confront adversity, and find out what they are truly made of during the glorious summer of spectacle and opportunity…

Vivi Holden is closer than she’s ever been to living her dream as a lead actress in sun-dappled L.A., but an unfair turn of events sends her back to New York, a place she worked so hard to escape from. She has one last chance to get back to Hollywood―by performing well as the star of the heralded Aquacade synchronized swimming spectacular at the World’s Fair. Everything seems to be working against her, but her summer in New York will lead to her biggest opportunity to find her own way, on her own terms…

Maxine Roth wants nothing more than to be a serious journalist at the iconic New York Times, but her professor has other plans. Instead, he’s assigned her to the pop-up publication covering the World’s Fair―and even then, her big ideas are continually overlooked by her male counterparts. Max didn’t work this hard to be the only―and an unheard one at that―woman in the room.

When Max and Vivi’s worlds collide, they forge an enduring friendship. One that shows them to be the daring, bold women they are, and one that teaches them to never stop holding on to what matters most, in the most meaningful summer of their lives.

“Set at the wondrous 1939 World’s Fair, Orman Schnall’s latest bursts like a technicolor movie right off the page, as her two heroines battle for their rights in what’s very much a man’s world, forging a remarkable bond in the process. An ode to female friendship that pulses with momentum and left me breathless.”
—Fiona Davis, national bestselling author of The Chelsea Girls

We Came Here to Shine is an exceptional work of historical fiction, illuminating the challenges of women in a world that wants to control them. There are conflicts and challenges at every turn, leaving the reader wondering how the characters can emerge from it all. Yet the skillful storytelling of Schnall succeeds at creating an ending that is both surprising and believable. Pick this one up if you enjoy books with friendship, love, struggle, triumph, and a bit of Hollywood in New York.” 
—Camille Di Maio, Bestselling author of The Memory of Us

"We Came Here to Shine is a perfectly crafted and dynamic tale of female ambition, professional rivalry, and family secrets, all set against the sensational backdrop of the 1939 New York World’s Fair. An unlikely friendship between a struggling Hollywood starlet and a budding female journalist becomes the extraordinary centerpiece of this beautifully-told story, which reveals not only the glamorous and optimistic side of the Fair, but the sordid reality of what goes on behind the scenes. With masterful attention to historical detail, Susie Orman Schnall has gifted us with a remarkable novel about the challenges women face and the courage they must summon in order to lead the lives they deserve." 
—Lynda Cohen Loigman, author of The Wartime Sisters

I’m going to take the liberty of writing a letter to myself nine years ago instead of 10, because exactly nine years ago, in the late winter of 2011, I had just begun writing my first novel.

Becoming a novelist, if that’s what I was even doing (at the time, I would have laughed uproariously in disbelief and maybe a bit of horror if anyone had even suggested that’s what I was doing) was a complete pivot for me. I had spent the past two decades since graduating college working in marketing and corporate communications and raising my three very-close-in-age little boys.

In early 2011, I was out for dinner with two girlfriends, bemoaning my lack of professional direction in between sips of wine, when I first mentioned the idea of potentially writing a novel. The ensuing conversation and my friends’ unmitigated enthusiasm for the idea sealed the deal. I had no idea how to write a novel so I promptly enrolled in a course.

During the entire week leading up to the first class, I was nervous. What had I signed up for? How could I even think this was something I could do? Who did I think I was that I could write an entire book? And if I did write an entire book what made me think anyone—outside of those who had my name in their contacts—would ever want to read it?

I told myself two things:
1) Just take the first class.
2) If after the first class you don’t want to take the second class, you don’t have to. (By the way, Current Me would never let Old Me get away with that. Current Me would force Old Me to take the whole course, to step outside her comfort zone, and to stop being all dramatic about it.)

I took the first class and did the homework. Then I took the second class. And the third. And by the end of that course, I had not only learned valuable lessons of novel writing, I was also several chapters in to a manuscript that would eventually become my first published novel, ON GRACE.

If I could go back now and tell that hesitant and apprehensive forty-year-old a few things, this is what I would tell her:

You already are a writer. Just by sitting in that chair and opening that file, you have become a writer.

You may be new to novel writing but you’ve been preparing for this your entire life. Remember all those poems you wrote to those cute boys who wanted nothing to do with you (the ones you still sometimes stalk on Facebook to this day, shhhhh!)? Remember all those short stories you received As on in high school? All that reading you did in your college lit classes? All those newsletters and annual reports and marketing proposals and presentations you wrote in your early jobs? That was all foundation building. Choosing perfect words. Combining them to create sparkling sentences. Combining those to create effective paragraphs and so on. Don’t be so sure you have no idea what you’re doing. You’ve already been doing it. May be a different “it” but it’s certainly a cousin, maybe even a sister.

You may not believe this but if you keep taking that class and keep churning out the words, you’re going to develop really great discipline and skills, which, in addition to writing chops, are inarguably as important to becoming a novelist.

And you’re certainly not going to believe this, but if you finish that first novel, you’re eventually going to end up writing another one. And another. And another. And even another. And even though one of those ended up in the electronic version of a drawer, the rest were published. And they live in bookstores! And in libraries! And on the shelves of people you’ve never met!

Here’s a cherry on top of it all. By becoming a novelist you’re going to meet your people. All those other women out there who love the books. And who get why you don’t actually mind sitting in your office all day alone typing. They get why it’s so awful and why it’s so magnificent. They’ve been where you want to go and they’ll help answer your questions and give you advice and support you and text you really nice things when you think you can’t do it anymore. They will become your community and you will wonder how you ever got along without them.

So, Self Nine Years Ago, I hope you paid attention to all of that. I hope knowing what’s on the other side will help you get through the months of revisions, all the rejection letters from agents, the loneliness, more rejection letters, the self-doubt, and all the other things.

You can do it. You will do it. And it will be beautiful.

Thanks to Susie for visiting with us and to St. Martin's Press for sharing her book with our readers.

How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends June 21st at midnight EST.


Linda May said...

I love crafting making wreaths for the different seasons. Thanks for this amazing giveaway.

Maryann said...

My talent is baking--especially cheesecakes of all varieties.

Suburban prep said...

I can knit and bake. But I think my best is that I can multi task :)

Carla S. said...

Crafting and cooking.

Anonymous said...

This looks great and the book cover is beautiful. I would love to read this :)

traveler said...

Cooking tasty and appetizing meals. Locating fantastic bargains of all types.

Michelle L said...

I don't really have any great skill, but, I have a talent for organizing, and reorganizing, making more space where there is none.

Mary C said...

I'm a good listener.

Pamela said...

I take great care of my rescue dogs and cats.

Rita Wray said...

I'm very good at taking care of finances and of organizing so everything looks neat and tidy. When my daughter was young I made clothes for her dolls.

Nancy P said...

Not sure really but I have been told that I help people to see the value in themselves. :)

Mary Preston said...

I can knit up a storm.

Nancy said...

I am a creative homestyle cook and thrifty shopper.

allibrary (at) aol (dot) com

Linda Marie said...

My talent is doing crafts of all kinds

diannekc said...

I'm a great typist.

Linda Kish said...

I don't know that I have any real talents.

Radwoman said...

Not sure! I used to when I easygoing...play piano pretty good!

A. B. said...

WRITING— playing with words. ...Also, I have a knack for finding my way around in places I’ve never been before, and don’t speak even a drop of the local language.

Peggy Russo said...

Not sure how skilled I am but I love scrapping and crafts like making wreaths and holiday decor.

rubynreba said...

I love to sew!

bn100 said...


Jeanne said...

Cleaning! I love to clean and organize. It makes me feel good when things are neat and in order.

Kelley B said...

I have a knack for fashion. Love putting pieces together that are unique. People always have something to say about my outfits.

Murphy said...
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