My Pitch for The Golden Willow

My Pitch for The Golden Willow

This week, I’m attending a writers conference called Muse and the Marketplace run by the esteemed Grub Street Writers in Boston. All sorts of bookish people will be there, including some of my favorite authors, writers, literary agents, and editors. I’ve heard much about it and have dreamed of going for more than four years. This year, I’m excited to get to go! (A big thanks to my husband for holding down the King fort for a few days!) In preparation for the conference, I’ve been practicing the pitch for my novel THE GOLDEN WILLOW, and I thought I’d share it here. My Pitch for The Golden Willow: The short, one-sentence hook: THE GOLDEN WILLOW is set in New Orleans and coastal Italy and is about a woman trying to recover a painting of her grandmother lost in World War II, which reveals a woman and a story that no one has ever known.   The Longer Pitch: I’ve recorded my paragraph-length pitch on video. Though it’s not an Academy Award performance, it’s me talking about a story I love and am excited to share with others.   The Golden Willow pitch video from Jennifer Lyn King on Vimeo. Thank you for your support, encouragement, and prayers. It’s sure to be a great week! xo JK Related posts: The Golden Willow: Inspiration for My Novel Voice and The Golden Willow: Heather Webb’s Blog Hop Pitch Like a Rock Star Workshop: Water Lily BackSpace: the Excellent Writers Conference Author: A...
The Rooms Are Filled by Jessica Null Vealitzek

The Rooms Are Filled by Jessica Null Vealitzek

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.” – Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft   Two years ago at a writers conference, I stood in the hallway of a hotel in midtown Manhattan, and said hi to one of the first faces which smiled my way. She was from Chicago and had two small children at home. We found we were assigned to the same table for our manuscript critiques, where two literary agents would listen to about a page of what we’d written and offer feedback. I remember listening to the way the very young literary agents offered their opinions on what each of the fifteen at our table had written. It was a skewering, painful for all of us, but, of course, educational. When Jess read her novel opening, it stood out. It sounded like a novel I’d want to read. It was a story that was subtle, yet strong. I liked that she could make jokes and still smile despite the tremendous pressure. I knew then that I would admire Jess and her work for a long time to come. We exchanged cards and kept in touch after the conference. I lived in Prague at the time; she lived in the Midwest. When the idea of GreatNewBooks.org lifted off the ground, Jess joined the team and has recommended books which speak to her unique and excellent taste. I love getting to be part of a team with her, and keeping up with each others’ lives on a week-by-week basis. One of the biggest, most exciting events in the time I’ve known Jess happens today, April 22,...
FALLEN BEAUTY by Erika Robuck: the Novel to Read This Spring

FALLEN BEAUTY by Erika Robuck: the Novel to Read This Spring

“You see, I am a poet, and not quite right in the head, darling. It’s only that.” -Edna St. Vincent Millay   Today, my dear friend and writing critique partner, Erika Robuck, has her fourth novel, FALLEN BEAUTY, out on shelves! To celebrate, I’d like to share a bit about Erika and also have a giveaway for one autographed copy of Fallen Beauty (details below). It is the novel to read this spring. “This finely tuned, lyrical novel is Robuck’s strongest work to date, and destined to become an American classic.” -Simon Van Booy, Award-Winning Author of The Illusion of Separateness and Everything Beautiful Began After (which I personally loved) Fallen Beauty by Erika Robuck Fallen Beauty is a historical novel set in 1928 in a fictional town in Upstate New York near Steepletop, the home of the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay. Like two of Erika’s previous novels, Fallen Beauty prods at the hearts of prominent American writers through the lives of other characters close to them. Her prior subjects and novels: Ernest Hemingway in Hemingway’s Girl and Zelda Fitzgerald, overshadowed wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald in Call Me Zelda, all published by NAL/Penguin. Posts about those novels can be found here and here. In Fallen Beauty, Millay consigns the town seamstress, Laura, to create her reading costumes. However, Erika took on the voice of Millay in first person in Fallen Beauty as well, which differs from her previous two, and is, in my opinion, the most amazing part about this book. Millay was a poet and human being like no other. She won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry...
What It Means to Be an Artist: 8 Truths on Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt from I ALWAYS LOVED YOU

What It Means to Be an Artist: 8 Truths on Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt from I ALWAYS LOVED YOU

Art is a mystery. From my first memories, I’ve always loved to draw, to write, to create. I still do, and write and paint regularly, daily. But as I’ve grown older, I wonder about art — the why and how behind it, and often, the meaning. Creating is hard. Art is important. To be an artist is to dig deep to find what it is that must be created, and to do the hard work of creation. Often that is much more difficult than it sounds. It feels impossible. It is from pushing through those times when I deeply appreciate learning about artists who have gone before. I’ve recently finished reading a stunning novel called I ALWAYS LOVED YOU by Robin Oliveira. It is a historical novel about the relationship between American painter Mary Cassatt, her art, and her sometimes-inspiration, Parisian artist Edgar Degas. The story is meaningful, beautiful, and exquisite. As I read, I began making notes with a pen, which by the end of the book had become notes on What It Means to Be an Artist. If the Masters felt and experienced the same feelings, doubts, criticisms as we do today, and yet persevered, then we have much to learn from their lives. Here, 8 notes I made on … What It Means to Be an Artist: On Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt, from I ALWAYS LOVED YOU by Robin Oliveira 1) Art takes work: “It’s extraordinary. It looks effortless.” “Effortless?” Degas’s placid expression twisted… “What do you think? That this is easy for me? That I could decide to paint something and then it magically...
It’s a Wonderful Life: 40 Years of My Story

It’s a Wonderful Life: 40 Years of My Story

“Wonderful! Wonderful! Wonderful! How could it be anything else?” – the movie It’s A Wonderful Life It’s a Wonderful Life has always been one of my favorite movies. I love Jimmy Stuart and his story of enthusiastic youth turned to despair, and being lifted back out again by taking stock of his life with the help of the angel Clarence. The story has many truths, about family and friends being the best parts of life, and about how as we use our gifts we take part in some form of a divine dance. Without our parts in that dance, there are holes in the stories of others, and life is not the same. In essence, we are here for a reason. Tomorrow is my 40th birthday, and as I take stock of my life, I can only do so with wonder. It has been amazing, this story I’ve gotten to live out. My 40th wouldn’t be complete without a photojournal … It’s a Wonderful Life: 40 Years of My Story   This photo was taken in the backyard of the house where I lived in Ft. Smith, Arkansas. (Proof that my hair has always been wild!) In Pennsylvania in middle school, I had the privilege of swimming with these lovely ladies under the direction of legendary synchronized swimming coach, Ms. Betty Hess. This photo was taken in Indianapolis at that year’s Olympic Trials. I was in 8th grade (I’m the last one in the photo). We came in 13th place for the nation. It was one of those WOW moments in my life. Soon after the Olympic Trials, my...
The Golden Willow: Inspiration for My Novel

The Golden Willow: Inspiration for My Novel

  The entire panel of the wall bumped out toward us, where Luc felt for another hidden latch. “Literature and art—my father always says those are the two connectors to the past, to our histories.” The thick piece disengaged from its resting spot and creaked open on shackle-like hinges. “Which is why we have this place.” The odor of earth and stone filled the air. “What is this? A crypt?” “Of sorts. Come, I’ll show you.” -a scene in The Golden Willow Over the past year and a half, I’ve worked steadily on my novel, through drafts and rewrites, more rewrites and beta-reads, and more revisions and polishing. It’s been a lot of work, but for me, it’s been exciting — I love the story and I’m delighted with the way it’s come together. My novel is currently titled THE GOLDEN WILLOW. As I’ve stepped into the next phase of the process, toward traditional publication, I’ve been reflecting on the various things which inspired me in its creation. Many were from travels in Europe or from places I’ve lived, which I often blog about here. But a few of the other inspirations are special … Inspirations for The Golden Willow 1. The Sleeping Beauty Apartment: Several years ago, I read about an apartment which is sometimes coined The Sleeping Beauty Apartment, in Paris, which had been rediscovered after 70 years of abandonment. Truly, everything about its story picked at me until I couldn’t help dreaming up ways to weave it into a novel. 2. Actual travels: I love history, but especially after living in and traveling through Europe. I...
Life in Prague as an Artist & Writer

Life in Prague as an Artist & Writer

“Art is the queen of all sciences communicating knowledge to all the generations of the world.” -Leonardo da Vinci One of my favorite parts of the internet world is getting to know other writers and artists. Writers and artists aren’t folks who are easily known. We don’t have cards we hand out or wear certain spiffy suits to mark us as doing something notable. But in the cyberworld, we tend to find each other. One such friend is Lisa Ahn. Lisa wrote me a few months ago and asked me if I would write a guest post for her excellent blog, The Hatchery. Out of admiration and based on years of writerly camaraderie, I agreed. “Of course!” I said. “What would you like me to write about?” Lisa didn’t hesitate. “What it’s like to be a writer and artist in a city like Prague.” There is so much to say about living in Prague– the language barriers, the people, the incredible places and sites, the natural beauty. But there is also something deeper which is hard to put a finger on. For me, that is the feeling of so many lives that were lived there–the history, the people, the art. So that is where I began for my piece on Life in Prague as an Artist & Writer. I tried to put a finger on the significance of my experience in Prague, and how it changed me as a person. Here is the beginning of my piece for Lisa … Life in Prague as an Artist & Writer When I was very small, I loved to watch my grandmother...
10 Favorite Quotes by Madeleine L’Engle

10 Favorite Quotes by Madeleine L’Engle

“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.” – Madeleine L’Engle The writer, Madeleine L’Engle, wrote over 60 books in her lifetime, and is best known for her Newbery Award-winning book, A Wrinkle in Time. But I fell in love with L’Engle’s non-fiction, beginning with her profound Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art. Over the years, I’ve dog-eared, underlined, and marked up each of the books I’ve read of L’Engle’s work. Her words speak to me deeply and help refine my perspective on life, faith, art, and purpose. I hope they connect with you, as well … 10 favorite quotes by Madeleine L’Engle: “Story makes us more alive, more human, more courageous, more loving. Why does anybody tell a story? It does indeed have something to do with faith, faith that the universe has meaning, that our little human lives are not irrelevant, that what we choose or say or do matters, matter cosmically.” –The Rock That is Higher   “We tell stories because we can’t help it. We tell stories because they fill the silence death imposes. We tell stories because they save us.” –The Rock That is Higher   “My great-great-grandmother, great-grandmother, grandmother, mother are alive for me because they are part of my story. My children and grandchildren and I tell stories about Hugh, my husband. We laugh and we remember. .. I do not believe that these stories are their immortality–that is something quite different. But remembering their stories is the best way I...

Voice and The Golden Willow: Heather Webb’s Blog Hop

For those of you who know me and follow my blog, this post is for writing and for the novel I’ve been working on for the past year … it takes a long time and lots of feedback and writer friend help to get a novel to its best. This is another step in the journey made of hard work and long hours of doing what I love most. Thanks, as always, for your support!   Author: Jennifer King Title: The Golden Willow Genre: Upmarket fiction First 250 words for It’s All in the Voice blog hop, May 16-17, by Heather Webb: The Golden Willow For sixty-five years, I wrapped up my secrets and locked them into the iron vault of time. To anyone who happened by, my life looked like a fine American painting, defined by tea parties and smiling family portraits. But it was the time before, the memory of what I had done, that haunted me in the darkness every night. On the morning of my eighty-fifth birthday, those nightmares finally bled into daylight. I awoke believing my lover would be waiting for me out in the rose garden. I hurried to descend the steps, thinking that morning we would leave to travel to Milan. We did that in those days, for our art club, for the unspoken Resistance. I remembered the series of encoded messages that had called us to da Vinci’s Last Supper. It was in danger then. We had little time. With a quick pause on the staircase landing, I grazed the texture of the oil painting with my fingertip. It felt cool,...
Call Me Zelda by Erika Robuck and a Giveaway

Call Me Zelda by Erika Robuck and a Giveaway

  Big News! Today, May 7, a great new novel is for sale in bookstores: CALL ME ZELDA by Erika Robuck. It’s about Zelda Fitzgerald, the wife of famous American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald (of The Great Gatsby), and about friendships and how they can help us heal. CALL ME ZELDA is a very special book to me because Erika is my writing critique partner. Her friendship has been one of my life’s greatest gifts. CALL ME ZELDA is published by Penguin / NAL and has been featured in some really great places: Glamour Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, … and would make a wonderful Mother’s Day gift, too. I have an autographed copy of Call Me Zelda to give away to one lucky commenter at the end of this post (details below)! What is it about? The story’s focus is on the friendship between Zelda Fitzgerald and a nurse named Anna, and it brings us into the years after the Fitzgerald party, after the Great Gatsby-like craziness. Scott notoriously used Zelda as his writing muse; Zelda famously fell into ruin, and after that, found her way into Phipps Psychiatric Hospital. From there, CALL ME ZELDA  begins. Through the lens of friendship, we watch each woman grow and heal in different ways, and strengthen each other over the course of the novel. I particularly like the way Erika has portrayed Zelda, as sympathetic despite her illness and her famous antics. I also love the tenderness with which she writes about the Fitzgeralds together. It is a must-read novel, on the ways we fail each other and...