I am excited and honored to have Meryl Ain back on gilagreenwrites. This time, she's here to talk about what it's like to launch her second novel, a topic I know many writers and readers want to learn more about.
"One of the unexpected blessings of the pandemic has been finding a robust network of authors on social media who have been so supportive and encouraging."
LAUNCHING A SECOND NOVEL
While I was hoping that launching my second novel on April 25 would be a piece of cake in terms of publicity, I quickly discovered that it is a mixed bag.
Despite what I learned from the publication of my first novel, The Takeaway Men (2020), I now feel tremendous pressure trying to leave no stone unturned in spreading the word about Shadows We Carry.
Since I knew the characters well, I enjoyed the writing process. For those who haven't read the first novel, my new book can be read as a standalone. At the front of the book, I provide a list of the main characters and a bit of information about each of them. I decided that this would be a good device both to refresh the memory of those who had read my debut novel and those who hadn't. Publishing Shadows We Carry also gave me the opportunity to let people know about The Takeaway Men. In the first few days since the launch, sales of my first novel have also increased.
I wrote the book in nine months while my husband and I were sequestered at home during the Covid-19 pandemic. He was waiting to find a kidney donor after he had been told by his nephrologist that he would have to go on dialysis if he didn't get one soon. Disciplining myself to write every day took me into another realm, away from health and safety concerns.Fortuitously, about the same time that I completed the first draft of the book, an altruistic anonymous donor came to the rescue.
The writing process was seamless for me since Shadows We Carry is a sequel to The Takeaway Men. The first book ends when the twins are in high school, and many readers requested a sequel. They wanted to know what happened to the sisters going forward. I was tremendously gratified that so many readers reached out to me, and frankly I had more to write on the subject. I set out to continue the story of the Lubinski twins -- Bronka and JoJo -- as they finished college and became adults in the late sixties and seventies. I wanted to recreate what it was like for young women back then and to show the obstacles they experienced. I believe the look back resonates with Baby Boomers and will be eye-opening for younger people as well.
I wanted to tell the story of what it was like to come of age in the United States where women were just beginning to fight for their rights, where institutionalized discrimination still existed, and abortion was illegal. When I wrote the first draft of Shadows We Carry, JoJo was in college and found herself with an unwanted pregnancy four years before Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that made abortion the law of the land. Her friends discuss with her the limited options that were available at the time – some of them life threatening. When the Supreme Court shockingly overturned this landmark decision in June 2022, I had to revise my author's notes at the end of the book because I had written that abortion was now legal nationwide.
Shadows We Carry also addresses the issues of gender identity, historical upheaval, and family relationships. I wanted to raise various themes for readers to think about, including nature v. nurture, prejudice and antisemitism, individual responsibility, and women's rights.
The twins and their peers, including a Catholic priest and the son of a Nazi, struggle with their family's ancestry and how much influence it has on their lives. Shadows We Carry explores the experience of navigating deeply held family secrets and bloodlines, confusing religious identities, and the scars of World War II in the wake of revolutionary societal changes.
When my debut novel was published, I knew nothing about social media marketing, which turned out to be a godsend during the pandemic. I am so grateful to the authors who took me under their wings and patiently taught me about how to effectively navigate the online world. Now, I must balance the demands of promoting, writing and family. For the first novel, I did 80 virtual presentations throughout the U.S. and in Canada, Israel, and Australia. As Covid is receding I'm trying to figure out the balance between in-person and virtual programs. I'm so grateful that The Takeaway Men resonated with readers and I'm hoping that Shadows We Carry will reach an even larger audience.
One of the unexpected blessings of the pandemic has been finding a robust network of authors on social media who have been so supportive and encouraging. I interact with other authors frequently and as much as they help me, I also try to help them get the word out. (Gila Green: more on that below).
And, of course, I want to continue writing. Sometimes, I feel there are not enough hours in the day to accomplish everything I want to do.
I started a Facebook group called Jews Love To Read! This is a forum to bring together authors, readers, reviewers, and bloggers, and especially to enable authors to spread the word about their books. With very few rules (no politics, treat each other with respect, no disparaging comments) I wanted to give back to those in the online book world who continue to help and encourage me. I also launched a podcast called People of the Book, which is aired on the Authors on the Air Global Radio Network. I feature Jewish authors in addition to books that have Jewish content.The group is only two years old, but we are approaching 4,000 members. https://www.facebook.com/groups/455865462463744
Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/MerylAinAuthor
Jews Love To Read! https://www.facebook.com/groups/455865462463744
People of the Book Podcast with Meryl Ain: https://merylain.com/people-of-the-book-podcast/
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