PhotobucketTherese here. Today’s guest is soon-to-be-author Amy Sue Nathan, whose debut novel, The Glass Wives, will be published in 2013 by St. Martin’s Press. Amy runs a blog I enjoy called Women’s Fiction Writers, where she interviews authors of women’s fiction and turns the platform over to them occasionally for guest posts. She recently joined with some other debut authors to create a new blog as well, a blog called Book Pregnant, “to share what we’ve learned and give you a look at what to expect when you’re expecting… a novel.” That sounded brilliant to me, and so I invited Amy to visit with us today to tell us a little more about it. Enjoy!

We’re Expecting…Books!

I didn’t understand it. The sleepless nights. The pacing. The cravings. The mood swings. The pressure to plan for the future.

Then, it all made sense.

I was Book Pregnant!

The Phrase: Book Pregnant

Book Pregnant — the phrase, the group, and the blog — is the collective brain child (excuse the pun) of authors Lydia Netzer (Shine, Shine, Shine, St. Martin’s Press, July 2012) and Sophie Perinot (The Sister Queens, NAL, March 2012), author friends who experienced these same first-time pangs.

Book pregnancy, Netzer and Perinot decided (for purposes of the group), begins with the sale of a book to a traditional publisher and technically ends when the book pushes its way out into the real world. The gestational period is usually one to two years. Or longer. Luckily, Book Pregnant, (the phrase and the group), has grown to encompass the newborn stage as well as the conception period for book #2 and beyond.

Once Book Pregnant, always Book Pregnant (or so we hope)!

The Group: Shh! It’s a secret! Sort of.

Netzer and Perinot knew there had to be more writers out there who needed a cozy place to nurture their debut-author selves. And they were right! So, the Book Pregnant group was born – and then grew. First, the author friends tapped some of their author friends on the shoulder and invited them to join Book Pregnant. Then members thought of more debut authors who would specifically benefit from and complement the group.

While there were already countless writing and publishing forums that address a myriad of issues and provide worthy advice, Netzer and Perinot knew Book Pregnant would be different. Writers at this stage of the game (accepted for publication) often have different concerns than before the book contract arrived. Perinot says the most important part of starting the Book Pregnant group was “the sense of safe place and community.” And that’s what it is. Tucked away in an invisible corner of the Internet (a private Facebook group), Book Pregnant is home to 30 debut authors.

And this can be done to fill any writer’s niche. So, if you find yourself without the group you crave, create it!

Julie Kibler (Calling Me Home, St. Martin’s Press, February 2013) invited me to join the group five months ago, just after my debut novel, The Glass Wives, sold to St. Martin’s. Not a day has gone by that I haven’t checked in. Okay, I’m kidding. I don’t just check in; I pull up a chair and hang out. It’s my first online foray in the morning and my last one at night. And I’m not the only one. BP is an exhilarating, collaborative effort of sharing just about everything regarding publishing our books and being debut authors.

Anita Hughes (Monarch Beach, St. Martin’s Press, June 2012) says that when she goes into a bookstore now and sees a fellow member’s book (we now have 13 babies in stores, with one about to “drop” any minute!), she feels a real sense of pride. I know that feeling. It’s what leads to walking around my favorite bookstore or big box store making sure all my friends’ books are facing out. Don’t tell me you haven’t done it too.

Hughes says her favorite thing about BP — we do love our acronyms — is that it makes her laugh. I concur. Book Pregnant has given literal meaning to another acronym: LOL. BPers, as we affectionately refer to ourselves, could probably take the show on the road. Oh, right, we are! Several BPers will be on an author panel this fall.

But along with the laughter is lots of serious business. “When I’m having a hard day or I get excited about some small milestone, I can go online and know someone from BP will always be there. And they will get it,” says Ellen Marie Wiseman (The Plum Tree, Kensington, January 2013).

And just as important, it’s about daring to be honest. We even have an acronym to let our friends know we’re about to ask something we wish we didn’t have to ask: SQOTD. Or, the Stupid Question Of The Day. Does someone ask a SQOTD every day? No. And has anyone ever made another member feel stupid? No. It’s simply our way of playing with our insecurities in a safe place. Wiley Cash (A Land More Kind Than Home, William Morrow, April 2012) admits, “This is the only place in my life where I can celebrate, complain, fear, be honest, and hope, and every single person will know exactly what I mean.”

One of the best parts of Book Pregnant is what we don’t have in common. Book Pregnant has literary and geographic diversity, with members across 11 states and even overseas. We are women and men (yes, men can indeed be Book Pregnant). We write YA, memoir, historical fiction, literary and commercial fiction. Our ages range from late twenties to sixties. And while we differ in many ways, we focus on how we’re alike. Barbara Claypoole White (The Unfinished Garden, MIRA Books, August 2012) says, “It’s a support group with no egos — just friendship and advice that works. Plus, we have the best book club ever.”

Book Pregnant has transitioned into our online family, our virtual tribe. We help each other with computer problems, share real-life family adventures and make stupid jokes. But we always come back to writing and publishing. The books are our common denominator.

The most important thing? We all agree that what happens in Book Pregnant stays in Book Pregnant.

Unless we decide to blog about it.

The BP Blog:

Not long ago, Book Pregnant members agreed to start a blog. So while it’s still just a baby itself, the BP blog is already a mirror for all kinds of writers. “I like that feeling of giving back to a larger community,” Perinot says.

There was just too much good stuff being shared to keep it all a secret. Of course, the blog also allows members to exercise our blogging chops — several have never blogged before — or dabble in social media if it’s new for us. And, Netzer adds, because our books draw from different readerships, the Book Pregnant blog helps us cross promote more effectively.

When visiting the Book Pregnant Blog, you might read a post from a literary author even though you adore genre fiction, or you might read a memoirist even though you’re hooked on YA. But no matter who’s posting at the BP blog, you’ll get the inside scoop and advice on being a debut author. Of course, as with all things so personal, YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary).

If you’re looking for a halo on the publishing industry, you won’t find it at the BP blog. We don’t bash or banish, but we do tell it like it is. After all, if not us, then who? Who will tell you the things your mother — or your agent or editor or other author friends — forgot to tell you, or maybe didn’t want to mention?

And on the blog, just like in real-life families, we talk about things in no particular order, but somehow, it all makes sense. One day, you’ll find a post about signing with an agent, the next, about a book signing. We post about book promotion and about how it feels to manage the stress of publishing. Every post has real-world information with practical advice and emotional reverie (we are all writers, after all).

What authors experience between book deal and book out-in-the-world, believe it or not, is as terrifying as being an aspiring author. It’s as scary as deciding you are really going to write a book in the first place and as daunting as sharing your manuscript with beta readers. It’s as nerve-wracking as sending that first query and can be as heart breaking as getting that first rejection.

BPers have forged a fierce bond. And we want to share about it because we know it’s important.  No matter what you’re writing or who you are, the more you connect, the more you’ll know and the better you’ll feel. We’re proof.

Whether you’re book pregnant now, still trying to conceive your first (or second or third) novel, or if you have book babies toddling all over the place, remember that everything is easier — and less painful — if you embrace two basic principles, one from life, one from Lamaze:

Find yourself a friend. And breathe.

Readers, you can learn more about Book Pregnant if you click HERE. Write on!

Photo courtesy Josh Koonce