Windy City Blues


Here’s a very cool idea that the wizards in the Berkley marketing department at Penguin Random House came up with to promote my upcoming novel, Windy City Blues. It super cool, quick and fun! Plus, you get to watch a video of the song!  But wait–there’s more. If you take the quiz you”ll also be entered to win one of ten advance copies of Windy City Blues.  

Click here to start your quiz: 

I did it and got “Let the Good Times Roll” by B.B. King. Share your results and feel free to share this post!

Have fun and good luck with the giveaway!


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About two weeks ago my publisher, Berkley, began running the first Goodreads giveaway for WINDY CITY BLUES– 25 advance copies looking for a good home. This giveaway ends in two days on November 23rd so I figured I’d better hurry up and post this to my blog.

As you’ve probably long suspected, Giveaways have become a “thing” in the publishing world. It’s a great marketing tool. A way to announce a new title, get readers interested in an upcoming book, or a way to boost interest in a book that’s already been out for a bit.

As I was pursuing the giveaways up on Goodreads, it’s interesting to see all the offerings. Some are giving away 100 copies or more. Others offer 1 or 2 copies. Some are running their giveaways for a couple months, others for a couple weeks. A few only run for a few days. Some the giveaways are sponsored by the big houses, others by smaller independent publishers and some offerings are self-published books.

While looking at all those giveaways,  I got to thinking about all the giveaways I’d entered and never won and then out of the blue, I was actually selected as a Goodreads Giveaway winner.  I won an advance reader copy of Daily Goodwin’s VICTORIA  which hits bookstores, laptops and smartphones tomorrow.  I receive a lot of ARCs but winning one was truly special. Look for my Goodreads review coming soon!



So with the clock ticking and the last two days of the Giveaway underway, I wanted to say thanks and wish good luck to those who entered for a chance to win an advance copy of  WINDY CITY BLUES. And for those of you reading this, I hope you’ll enter!

Thanks much!




4 Months Till Publication!

The train has left the station.  I just looked at the calendar and realized I’m only about four months away from the publication of Windy City Blues and things are happening.  I thought I’d take you behind the scenes and share some of what’s going on. First off, I’m thrilled to announce that Windy City Blues will be available as an audio book! This came early and was unexpected and I can’t wait to give it a listen.

But there’s other things happening too. As I’m preparing to do my copy edits where we’ll make sure all the facts are correct, all the commas are in place, all the typos zapped, we have the book out to other authors for early endorsements, also known as blurbs. Cannot wait to share those with you, too!

Next week my agent and I have a meeting in New York with my amazing team at Berkley. Here we’ll be finalizing the marketing and publicity plans for Windy City Blues. I already know about a few very cool things that are in the works and I promise I’ll share just as soon as I can. In the meantime, here’s a hint—I see a big blues bash coming to Chicago in February!!!

Since this is the calm before the storm, I’m taking advantage of the downtime. This morning we hit the road with Rebecca Makkai and head to Michigan for the first annual Harbor Springs Festival of the Book.  Check out the lineup of authors! Then it’s off to New York for a little business and pleasure before we head out to Palm Springs for Desert Trip also known as the most insane three nights of concerts featuring The Rolling Stones, The Who, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney and Roger Waters of Pink Floyd. So if you don’t see me blogging for a bit, that’s the reason why. But do stop back for pictured and updates.

Happy Readings To You All!



Percolating on the Next Book

Now that I’ve finished WINDY CITY BLUES and am awaiting my copyedits, it’s time to turn my attention to the NEXT BOOK. I’m in the fortunate position to be in the middle of two-book deal, but what that second book will be, no one knows. Not even me. I’m finding it difficult to say goodbye to the blues and the Chess brothers . I fell in love with the music, the musicians and the legacy they left behind.

Finishing up this novel has been a different experience for me. Usually when I reach this stage, I’m sick to death of the manuscript I’ve been working on for the year or 18 months and am ready to move on. And usually by this point I already know what I’m going to work on next. Not so this time and I think it’s because the story of the blues and the Civil Rights Movement and the people I met while working on this book truly found their way into my heart. I feel as though I’m going through a bit of a mourning period and am allowing myself this time to grieve.

And yet I know the only cure for one book is to get busy writing another. Deciding what to write next is exciting, exhilarating and riddled with anxiety. For now I’m pondering… Do I want to write about real historical figures? Or would I rather create a character from scratch?  What time period would I like to delve into for the next year to 18 months?  What about the setting? Should I do another novel set in Chicago or is it time to spread my literary wings and go elsewhere? All this weighs on me and keeps me up at night.

I tend to keep a running list of topics I think might be able to grow into books one day and while they all seem viable in the moment, when I go back and give them a serious look, they tend to fall apart and crumble to nothingness. True confession, last week, Wednesday to be specific, I had a mini panic attack. I was staring at my grandfather’s typewriter–the one I played on as a child when I dreamed of becoming a novelist one day–and all I could think was I’m completely out of ideas.

Now mind you, I’ve been here before, it’s part of the process and you’d think I’d know that by now, but still it rattled me. And that old saw, it’s darkest before the dawn has never been more true. I remember being on the phone with my sister, the two of us tossing around possible subjects and nothing was getting me excited. I felt like I couldn’t breathe and had to get off the phone. Just when I was about to tear my hair out, a burst of inspiration rescued me. In fact, more than one burst of inspiration.

This is the part of the writing process that is filled with endless possibilities. Nothing has been committed to paper yet and as my friend Tasha Alexander  likes to say, I need to let the story and characters percolate. But I am percolating and it feels great. As soon as I know I’ve got something really cooking here, I’ll share it with you!


My grandfather’s typewriter


You Sold Your Novel–Great! Now it’s Time to Revise it!

So as I’m wrapping up my final edits for WINDY CITY BLUES  I thought I would share a little behind-the-scenes look at what happens once you’ve sold your novel and what really goes into editing a manuscript. I think the story goes a little like this… After years of rejections, of well meaning friends and family thinking you’re wasting your time, you get the call and for once it’s “Yes! We want to publish your novel.”

Well, you’re champagne drunk for a month and when you’re feet start coming back to earth reality sets in. The manuscript that your new editor loved enough to purchase needs work so that it can become a published novel. This usually arrives in your inbox in the form of “The Editorial Letter”. It could be as brief as a few paragraphs or as long as several pages. What I can tell you having gone through this process with five books is DO NOT FREAK OUT.  It’s overwhelming at first, especially if you think your book was pretty much done, perfect and just the way you wanted it.

Well, I’ll share something with you. When I first turned in WINDY CITY BLUES I thought I was 95% done. I thought my editor was going to gush that this was my best book yet, etc, etc, etc. (cue the champagne).  Instead, I got a lot of wonderful comments but I also got A LOT of questions, concerns, comments and requests for changes. What?!  At this point I gave myself two days to read through her letter and read all her comments inside the manuscript and let it all soak in. I also told myself to keep an open mind and really take in her feedback. After the shock wore off, i realize how astute her comments were and as a result, I have a much stronger novel than the book I turned in that I was so sure was in such great shape.

In this digital age, most editors work in Track Changes. You’ll either love ‘em or hate ‘em. Take a look at what a few pages of WINDY CITY BLUES looked like with Track Changes. All those different colors represent comments from my editor and my responses. Do not assume that lots of comments means your novel isn’t good. It simply means that your editor is seeing more opportunities where you can make something more vivid, or be more clear. A good editor will also catch things that as the author, you’re just too close to see.

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This is what all 500+ pages looked like. So anyone who tells you that  editors don’t really edit anymore has not met my editor. She pushes me, which is what I want because I’m one of those writers who really loves the editing process. For me this is where the magic happens, this where characters really begin to sing on the page, where storylines connect, where themes emerge.  So the moral here is DO NOT FEAR THE EDIT and the edits are coming no matter how many books you’ve published. It’s part of the process. Embrace it and you’ll be amazed by how much your novel grows!

Happy editing to you all!