Binge-worthy: Z: THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING

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“Nothing could have survived our life.” ~Zelda Fitzgerald, in a letter to Scott

Amazon Studios has released a new series based on Therese Fowler’s bestselling novel, Z, called Z: The Beginning of Everything.  When I watched the pilot early last year, I couldn’t quite reconcile the casting with the two luminous persons who had so long lived in my imagination. Within two episodes, however, Christina Ricci (Zelda) and David Hoflin (Scott) grew into their characters with such force, power, and unflinching honesty they beguiled me, and would no doubt impress and unnerve those whom they portray.

Z: The Beginning of Everything, created by Dawn Prestwich and Nicole Yorkin, is a first-class production. Even in the scenes in which Zelda is not featured, she is the anchor, the true north; one judges every moment on how Zelda will react to and change as a result of what happens. Her clothing alone is striking enough to make her stand out, but it is the full, tragic understanding of how life broke Zelda that gives extra weight to Ricci’s performance.

Every character has a well-developed arc and clearly supports the themes explored in the lives of the Fitzgeralds. The series manages to weave in Zelda and Scott’s fascinating circle of peers–including scene-stealer Tallulah Bankhead, played by (Christina Lind)–while never losing sight of or distracting from the true heart of the work, Zelda Fitzgerald.

I often had to pause the film to take in the visually stunning and artistic scene renderings. With just thirty minutes an episode, not a moment of dialogue, music, transition, wardrobe, or lighting is wasted. It is a testament to the production quality that even moments of lighthearted joy are shadowed with the foreknowledge of the ways Scott and Zelda will fall. It is especially moving when the young Fitzgeralds run to the ocean, hand-in-hand–their laughter trailing–not knowing how mercilessly the sun will scorch the Icarus-like, waxen wings of their youthful arrogance.

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If you want a period piece you in which you may get lost, I cannot recommend Z: The Beginning of Everything enough. I hope the series is renewed; I can never get enough Zelda. If you’ve seen it, I would love to hear what you think.

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Happy Birthday, Zelda! #Giveaway

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“Nobody has ever measured, not even poets, how much the heart can hold.” Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald

On this day in 1900, Zelda Sayre was born in Montgomery, Alabama. She was an accomplished painter, dancer, and writer, but is most often known for her marriage to author F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Married in 1920, the dashing young couple inspired the Jazz Age. Making flapper dresses, bobbed hair, and gin rickeys popular during Prohibition, Zelda and Scott decorated the globe from one continent to the next. They had one daughter, Scottie, born in 1921, and they lived in New York, France, Delaware, Maryland, Minnesota, and North Carolina, to name a handful of places.

Zelda died at the Highland Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina from a fire, while being treated for her recurring mental breakdowns. Zelda and Scott are buried in Rockville, MD at St. Mary’s Catholic Church.

In honor of Zelda’s birthday, I’m giving away two signed copies of my novel featuring her as a character, CALL ME ZELDA. For a chance to win a copy, please comment below about how you know about Zelda, if you’ve read her novel SAVE ME THE WALTZ, or your favorite (Zelda-inspired) work of fiction (just about all…) written by her late husband.

Please spread the word on social media, and good luck! (Contest ends Friday, July 26th, 8 AM EST. US only, please.)

Indie Bookstore Spotlight: Concord Bookshop

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In honor of the wonderful indies I visited during the Call Me Zelda book tour, I wanted to highlight these places so you can visit them on your own travels. I sent questionnaires to my contacts at each of my stops along the way.  Today’s indie spotlight is The Concord Bookshop in Concord, Massachusetts, a place where I have many fond memories and new friendships.

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Title The Concord Bookshop

Setting 65 Main Street; Concord MA 01742. In the heart of historic Concord 

Characters @ConcordBookshop

Backstory The Concord Bookshop was founded in 1940 as a lending library, morphing to a full-service bookstore over the next few years. Over the decades, we’ve expanded and are constantly tweaking to best fit the needs of both our local community and the many tourists who come to town for our Revolutionary and literary history. Visitors can make a day – or a weekend, or a week! – of touring Walden Pond, the Old North Bridge, the Old Manse, Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, the Concord Museum, and Concord’s many wonderful art galleries and unique independent shops. One of the things that makes us the happiest is when a new-to-us customer walks in the front door and takes about 10 steps before stopping to smile wide and happily sigh “Wow, a REAL bookstore!”

Hook Our event season runs September through June, with author readings and conversation, open mic poetry, and writing workshops. We’re proud of our well-read staff, who enjoy a fun game of “guess the title” when a customer inquires about a book she’s just read a review of, or listened to an author interview. We’re an IndieBound store, highlighting not only bestsellers from national newspapers, but also the “sleeper hits” from the IndieNext list and our own Staff Picks. We’ve devoted two full bookcases to local authors, including H.D. Thoreau, Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Nathaniel Hawthorne; and are well-stocked with other books of local interest. In addition to books for adults and young readers, we offer magazines, greeting cards, and quality jigsaw puzzles.

Website  www.concordBookshop.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/ConcordBookshop

The Ugly. Keeping it real. (BAD reviews.)

Thumbs down smiley by SunKing2 - Thumbs down smiley.  Good for rating stuff.

I’ve just returned from a multi-city book tour. There were happy meetings and reunions, great Q&A sessions, bookstores converted to speakeasies, and at the last stop, a basket of champagne and strawberries from my publisher. I enjoy posting photos from readings and cities I visit to support those who support me–the towns, the bookstores, the reviewers, and the people–but I always hesitate before hitting “upload” because there are quite a few writers out there still trying to find an agent, facing rejection, and unable to get a publisher. This is the exact arrested state of publishing misery in which I resided for nearly a decade, and while I was happy for others and their success, on bad days, seeing it felt like lemon juice in a paper cut.

So, to counterbalance all of the “happy-happy”, and to illustrate that publishing is not all speakeasies and chocolate covered strawberries, I’m going to post excerpts from some of the negative reviews I’ve gotten along the way. These statements are what I think of every single day when I sit down to write. They reinforce the demon in my head that tells me I’m not worthy. They haunt me with every revision, every book proposal, and every public or private sharing of my work.

Hemingway said that if you believe the good reviews, you have to believe the bad. He also ripped off his shirt at a fancy dinner and punched a critic who called his overt masculinity a mask, hiding his true nature. I don’t advocate punching critics, but I won’t say that I haven’t fantasized about it.

In a sick way, I do think it is just as important to have negative feedback as it is to have the wonderful reviews that so many of you have given. I treasure the positive, and they are the sweet balm I need after what you’re about to see, but we need to be reminded that published art is for the public and doesn’t totally belong to us once we send it into the world.

After reading this, I don’t want any of you to comment with, “No, no, you’re work is lovely!” If you have the cajones to share some of your own bad reviews, do it. If you have a favorite bad review of mine, mention it. If you’d like to silently read and shake your head, go for it. Just remember at whatever stage of the publishing process you reside, it is always, always hard. Every day you have a handful of good and a handful of bad. It is an emotional roller coaster at every stretch, so make sure you fasten your big-girl pants for the ride.

Without further ado…

Hemingway’s Girl:

  • “[E]ven the dramatic arrival to the Florida Keys of a horrific fact-based 1935 hurricane can’t save Erika Robuck’s clichéd plot and soggy prose. Time to let poor Papa rest in peace.”
  • “In “Hemingway’s Girl”, the story is predictable and not very entertaining; even Hemingway ‘s character fails. It’s a quick read and asks little of its readers. Hemingway would hate it.”
  • “[I]t was nauseatingly lovey and cheesy at times, and not compelling to read.”
  • “Grooooooaaaan. Chick lit dressed up as historical fiction.” (**This is my favorite. I want it made into a sign to hang in my office.)

Call Me Zelda:

  • “It was for me a mistake to read Erika Robuck’s CALL ME ZELDA after having read [THE OTHER ZELDA NOVEL].”
  • “This is not a serious treatment of mental illness or of the tragedy of Zelda Fitzgerald. It’s cozy wish-fulfillment, the ultimate expression of Robuck’s desire to fix her subject.”
  • “[T]his book was just Dull, capital-D dull. Maybe two capitals: DDull.”
  • “CALL ME ZELDA is the sort of novel that is enjoyed by ladies who want a somewhat romantic story to pass the time while enjoying a good cup of coffee.”

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need a good cup of coffee…with something strong in it.

Ouch.

Book Giveaway: Call Me Zelda

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With less than one week until the publication of my new novel, CALL ME ZELDA (May 7th), I wanted to share some exciting news about new and old books, thank all of you for your support and enthusiasm, and run a pre-pub giveaway. News first:
CALL ME ZELDA:
  • CMZ has been selected for Penguin’s What the World is Reading program, one of their six recommended trade paperback releases of 2013.
  • CMZ has been featured in Harper’s Bazaar Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today for the Fitzgerald trend in books and film.
  • Audio and Large Print Rights have sold for CMZ.
  • Book Trailer: http://bit.ly/XbDhk6
  • Pre-order: http://bit.ly/Zlp1Ym
  • Appearances: http://bit.ly/QdJbhI
HEMINGWAY’S GIRL:

  • I’m honored that HG has been selected for Penguin’s Read Pink program in 2013 to support the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
  • Audiobook and Large Print Rights have been sold for HG, as well as foreign rights in Hungary and Poland.
  • If you’ve read HG, please consider leaving a review at your favorite online retailer or book sharing site: http://bit.ly/wH9peh
RECEIVE ME FALLING:

  • RMF, my first self-published book, has continued to do well. As a courtesy to old and new readers, the ebook is now permanently available for Kindle at $2.99. http://amzn.to/12SwmOZ
GIVEAWAY:
Share this blog post on Twitter and tag me (@ErikaRobuck) for a chance to win a copy of CALL ME ZELDA. The contest will run through Saturday, May 4th, at 8:00 pm EST
I can’t thank all of you enough for your kind support, especially those readers and book clubs who have been with me since my self-publishing endeavors. It is a great blessing to be able to do what I love, and to share it with all of you. I hope to see you on the book tour for CALL ME ZELDA.

NPR Visit and The Annapolis Book Festival

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I had the great pleasure of visiting Baltimore’s NPR affiliate, WYPR, Maryland  Morning with Sheilah Kast, to discuss my new novel CALL ME ZELDA, and my upcoming appearance at the Annapolis Book Festival. To listen, click here.

The Annapolis Book Festival is this weekend at the Key School. I will be a part of a panel discussion on Saturday, April 13th at 10:30 a.m. with The Book Maven, Bethanne Patrick, and novelists Caroline Leavitt and Christoper Tilghman. For a full schedule of events at the book festival, click here.

I hope to see you in Annapolis!

Count Down to Book Launch…

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My new novel, CALL ME ZELDA, will be published on May 7th by NAL/Penguin. It begins in Baltimore in 1932 when Zelda Fitzgerald checks into the Phipps Clinic at Johns Hopkins, and takes place during the aftermath of the Fitzgerald party years. Through Zelda’s relationship with a fictional psychiatric nurse, the book explores the meaning of friendship, love, and how we heal from emotional injury.

CALL ME ZELDA is a book that I’ve held close to my heart for a long time, inspired by my fascination with F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, and by the nurses I’ve known in my life (grandmother, mother-in-law, aunt, sister-in-law, friends…), who give so much of themselves to their patients. It also comes from my compassion for those who suffer mental illness and post-traumatic stress disorder, the ways they are often misunderstood, and the pain of the family members caring for them.

It is the first novel I’ve written in the first person point of view, and as a writer, that takes one very deeply into the heart and mind of the characters, for better or worse. There is an intimacy, an immediacy to first person, and this novel marks my maiden voyage of many, I think, into this point of view.

There are links on my website to pre-order CALL ME ZELDA, if you are so inclined. If you read the book and enjoy it, I invite you to post a review at your favorite online book site. My website also has listings of my upcoming book tour and festival appearances. I hope to see you on the road!

http://www.erikarobuck.com