“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.
Yes, the portion of the novel she read in NYC has been turned into a real paper and ink book! It is very exciting, of course, especially having been part of the journey in a small way.
THE ROOMS ARE FILLED by Jessica Null Vealitzek …
… is a coming-of-age story of a boy named Michael after his father dies and he and his mother have to move from their farm in Minnesota to start a new life near Chicago. It is a poignant novel with a strong message, about outcasts who find each other and find themselves after everything they counted on has changed. It is a jump back to the early 1980s, a glimpse of the issues of the time, and about two characters who help each other through it.
To celebrate, this week at GreatNewBooks.org, we’re giving away two autographed copies of THE ROOMS ARE FILLED. Please stop by from Wednesday, April 23 to Friday, April 25 to enter to win there at GreatNewBooks.org.
Thanks for helping me to celebrate Jess and her debut novel!