Wednesday, September 17, 2008

BBAW Guest: Elizabeth Emerson Hancock


More Than a Blogger to Me: The Book Therapist (originally posted here)

People often ask me what I'll do if someone says something bad about the book. You know, the inevitable comment on Amazon (by A. Nonymous, of course): "I HAAAAAAAATED… it!!!!! May-be will sell on ebay 2day and make some money back that I spent on it cause was horribel LOLOL."

(Yes, I am implying that anyone who doesn't like my book has a poor sense of language. Also, they smell.)

Of course, I'm kidding. I don't enjoy criticism, but I understand it, particularly because the book I've written is a memoir.

Think about what that means.

It means I, like all memoirists, am asking total strangers to get to know me on an intimate level, in a condensed, five-by-seven-inch space. And I'm asking them to pay for that opportunity.

Now I know how all my poor, poor male friends over the years must have felt when I bombarded them with unsolicited blind dates with my female friends. (Ain't karma a peach?)

The result of such forced romance is inevitable — for many readers, Trespassers will be a soulmate of a book. For others…well…I hope they'll still be friends, even with no Love Connection. Maybe they'll pass it along to a buddy who might be a better match.

Today, while I was doing a signing at a local Barnes & Noble, I had a thought — wouldn't it be fabulous if a true matchmaker service for books and readers existed? Reviews are supposed to facilitate that process, but c'mon. What are the odds that a major publication can pick out the book that is the ideal fit for you? Probably about that same as those of a major television network selecting the ideal Bachelor for…well, for anyone.

I shared this thought with the B&N Community Relations Manager, the fabulous Rebecca Schinsky. (She blogs as The Book Lady, over here.) Rebecca already had a good sense for me as a writer and reader. She's read Trespassers, she's visited this blog, and, having met me in person, she's performed that pre-blind-date crazy assessment every girl has to do before she hooks a friend up with someone (or some book) she holds dear. ("Is she worthy?" "Is she stable" "Can she be trusted — in this world where lazy readers, lied-about-finishing-it readers, and plain old didn't-really-even-try-to-give-it-a-shot readers, are free to dole out one-stars on Amazon like careless literary litter — with this character that I really love?")

I asked Rebecca, point blank, to set me up with something new. And she was off.

Literally, with a nod of the head that said "Of course I know the perfect thing out there for you," (with, might I add, a confidence that the eHarmony actors couldn't muster if they tried), Rebecca returned with not one, not two, but roughly TEN possibilities in hand. Each had a connection to me, but the right amount of variety was supplied. One was good for a short, light fling; another for a long, post-depression month.

Like a breathless Ingrid Bergman with worn-out Mommy eyes, I could only mutter "How…?"

And the answer was obvious. She has a degree in clinical psychology, and training in sex therapy to boot! Seriously! And she ended up working in a bookstore because, well, as a writer who believes in faith and fate, I can confirm that the store needed her. The readers of America need her. Not a book saleslady. Not a book critic. I have hereby re-christened Mrs. Rebecca Schinsky "The Book Therapist."

Those of you in the Richmond area who haven't met her, I demand you make an appointment (or a walk-in) NOW. (9850 Brook Rd., Glen Allen.) I'm sure she'd be willing to do some electronic book therapy via her blog, as well, if you ask nicely.

She can also help you resolve any issues you may be having with your mother. In that case, I hear a phone call, some flowers, and a copy of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society works wonders.

Elizabeth Hancock is the author of Trespassers Will Be Baptized: The Unordained Memoir of a Preacher's Daughter (by the way, I'm a preacher's daughter..did you know that?)
About the Book: Growing up Southern and Baptist in Eastern Kentucky, Elizabeth Hancock's world revolved around Sunday School, foreign missions projects, revival meetings and of course, the Kentucky Wildcats, who "glorified God through their goal-shattering, soul-shattering play." Hancock chronicles her childhood misadventures with sardonic wit, detailing her and her sister Meg's mischievous - if harmless - abuses of power (stealing Guess jeans from the Africa donation box, or hawking backyard swimming pool baptisms during her neighborhood's annual yard sale) and lovingly recalling the wisdom imparted by her long-suffering parents as they ministered to their unruly flock. TRESPASSERS WILL BE BAPTIZED marks the arrival of a talented new voice in a coming of age story that is by turns comical and affecting.

Hachette is giving away five copies of this book. This is open to those with a United States or Canadian mailing address. Just leave me a comment and tell me about a time someone made the perfect book recommendation for you! Open until Friday.

36 comments:

MoonMaiden said...

I think your book sounds terribly interesting and I'd love to read it! I grew up with the United Methodist version of your story - in the South as well - as a preacher's daughter. *Thanks* for the giveaway!

ols[dot]moonmaiden[at]gmail[dot]com

raych said...

My English 12 teacher gave me Wicked as a grad gift. This was before it was New & Hot! so I know she picked it out just for me. I loved it.

Anne said...

My best suggestions have been by small independent book store workers - the ones who have a section for "our favorites." I've found many great books that way, including "The Time Traveler's Wife, "Bel Canto" and "The Known World." I have never been disappointed by independent books sellers, and they don't even know me!!!

nbmars AT yahoo DOT com

bermudaonion said...

When we lived in France, a friend lent me one of Ferrol Sams book and it was perfect at the time. Enter me, please!

avisannschild said...

I love this post (and I'd love to read this book!). A friend recently recommended The Time Traveler's Wife--and she was right, it's one of my favourite books.

lindymc said...

A friend suggested, several years ago, that I should try Dorothea Benton Frank novels. Since then I think I've read everyone she's written, some of them twice; and I anxiously await every new one being published.

gwendolyn said...

About 20 years ago, a co-worker gave me her copy of KATHERINE by Anya Seton. It was out-of-print at the time, and her copy was from the 1960s, with a cover that looked like something done by Peter Max, and held together with rubber bands (it was in a least 5 pieces!). I was heavy into British history (fiction and non-) and it was an absolute perfect book for me at the time. I still have it, although I've since replaced the rubber bands. Thanks for a chance to win a copy of TRESPASSERS - Southern writers are another big favorite of mine, along with memoirs -- I expect another perfect fit is in store for me! And P.S., Amy, your questions today for bloggers have been extremely helpful for me - I'm learning a lot and will be launching my own blog soon. (Obviously, I've got plenty to say!) Thank you again!
geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

Alyce said...

I had a friend in high school that gave me one of Anne McCaffrey's dragon books for my birthday because she knew it was perfect for me even though I didn't like dragon books. I let it sit on the shelf for years before I finally picked it up. I couldn't believe what I had been missing! Anne McCaffrey is now one of my favorite authors, and I own most of the Pern series.

Icedream said...

I have been a reader since I was little, and I read everything. I don't know how I missed it but it wasn't until I was about 12 and at a friends house that I first saw a copy of Anne of Green Gables. I had never read or even heard of it. She couldn't believe it and loaned me her copy. It's the best recommendation I have ever gotten.

Ronnica said...

A friend recommended that I (re)try Pride and Prejudice a few years ago. Not only is it one of my favorite books, it introduced me to my favorite author and style!

Heather J. said...

Unfortunately for me, I've always been the "recommender" rather than the "recommendee" ... until I found book blogging that is!

No need to enter me, since I just won a copy of this book from another site. I'm excited to read it - it looks like fun!

Sunny said...

In my younger years a friend recommended Little Women...and oh I loved it! Still do!

sj3girls(at)hotmail(dot)com

Rebekah (the_littleminx) said...

From one preachers daughter to another, I REALLY REALLY REALLY want to read this book!!!! Whew, okay, I got that out there now. LOL

A time that someone made the perfect book recommendation for me would be when my sister suggested I a book by Ted Dekker. I'd never read the author as I generally tend to shy away from a lot of Christian fiction. This is because, lets face it, a lot of times it's boring. I know that's awful to say, but it's true. It's just like Christian tv. You rarely see anything incredibly outstanding (unless it's for kids), and that's just sad. But, I digress. I know there are great, wonderful, excellent even Christian authors out there, but finding the good ones is often times really hard. So, back to Dekker. My sister said I should read his book THREE, and I decided to give it a go. Whoa! I could not put it down. It was intense, made you think, and was all around great. I'd likely have never found it if my sister hadn't paired me with it.

RebekahC
littleminx at cox dot net

rjsbooklady said...

What an awesome surprise! I had no idea Elizabeth would be doing this. Ya'll are going to make me blush!

Cindy W said...

My co-worker, Elizabeth let me borrow her copy of Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah and told me I had to read it. I found a new author, who is so nice and keeps in touch w/ her readers by blogging and a book for me to suggest to others!

Cindy said...

Terry my friend who I had met online (she is no longer with us. She passed away a year ago)told me about Christine Feehan. WE both have a love of books and exchanged titles all the time. I was telling her that I needed something new and she said she had the right books for me and the author was Christine Feehan. Those books are always special to me.

cindysloveofbooksarcATgmailDOTcom

majgie-moon said...

I think the best timed recommendation was for Mindy Klasky's Girl's Guide to Witchcraft. This was right after my pay had been cut at work, I found out the truth about the 'man' I was seeing, and was overall just not happy. Jane's story opened with her pay getting cut, by the end she learns the truth about her boyfriend, and everything still works out alright.

Jen (Jen's Book Thoughts) said...

I have two biggies. My first being when an online friend recommend A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY. The book is still at the top of my recommendation list. Of course it ruined the movie SIMON BIRCH for me, but what can you do? The other recommendation I also got from an online friend - Naomi. She recommended Michael Koryta's work, and I've been hooked ever since. Now Naomi and I are both on and off line friends who enjoy sharing all things book-related!

Sandra said...

Rebecca has been very nice since I met her though blogging about a month ago. I'm glad to know more about her now.
A friend from Turkey once gave me a book he was stuggling with because the English writing was "a bit old-fashioned" and he thought it would be right up my alley. It was Thomas Wolfe's "Look Homeward Angel". It remains my favourite book to this day. And I love reading memoirs about being a little girl. Please enter me, thank you.

nbbaker1102 said...

My friend Stephanie at Stephanie's Written Word has made many, many recommendations to me and most have them have been great. But, the PERFECT recommendation came when she turned me onto the Twilight series. I will forever be in her debt. (Is it sad that it is a YA, vampire book that I connected with so much?)

Jackie B. said...

Just about every single review that I read on my fave book blogs are the perfect recommendaation! HA! I have so many books in my "to be read" pile. I cannot help it. I love books. What can I say....

Pamela Fierro said...

An acquaintance told me that I would love The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory. I was really skeptical. It looked like a bosom-heaving romance and I wasn't all that interested in historical fiction. But I did love it, and I have loved all of Gregory's other books since. (Can't wait to read the new one, The Other Queen.) After that, I gave a little more respect to that acquaintance's recommendations!

blueviolet said...

My sister lent me a book she thought I would love years ago called "Memoirs of a Geisha" and she hit it just right. I absolutely loved it. Because I had read that one, I found "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan" and that is my absolute favorite book ever!
doot65{at}comcast[dot]net
Elizabeth

Lenore said...

I grew up southern baptist! And like blueviolet above a friend lent me Memoirs of a Geisha and I read it in one sitting!

darbyscloset said...

A girlfriend of mine recommended "Greg Iles", I was a little leary because she kept mentioning all of the blood. I picked up "True Evil" at a used bookstore and was quickly hooked....and honestly there wasn't that much blood!
Darby
darbyscloset (at) yahoo (dot) com

Meghan said...

My friend lent me The Red Tent just this year since I liked historical fiction. I absolutely loved it and it was perfect for my mood at the time. I can't really think of any other times ... usually I'm the recommender, not the recipient of recommendations.

Please enter me!

naida said...

this sounds like a good book, I have it in my TBR mountain, so please dont enter me for the drawing. great post though!
http://thebookworm07.blogspot.com/

Book Spot said...

I'm a preacher's daughter, too, so I really think I should read this book ;)

and I don't know if this counts as a recommendation (because I seem to do more rec'ing to others than gettting them), but I heard Jonathon Kozol speaking somewhere (it was actually probably church related) when I was like nine and all of that moved me so much that I got his book Amazing Grace (and had him sign it--people writing non fiction books about children in the Bronx & their teachers seem kind of impressed when a 3rd grader wants their book)...

Either that or when I was recommended The Awakening by Kate Chopin (it's a long story I'll share by email but maybe not so publicly?) and that is still one of my two favorite books ever

I hope I kind of answered the question ;)

wordlily said...

Another PK here. This sounds like the perfect book for me.

I've got a few friends whose book recommendations I trust, very much. A recent one: I just finished reading Frindle this weekend, and it was such a perfect recommendation from a friend!

Maybe the best book recommendation I've received, though, is from a book; I was reading this nonfiction book about Chinese culture (Where's the Duck in Peking?), and it said the preeminent Chinese novel is called The Story of the Stone. I had to read it. And it was a perfect match (it wouldn't be for everyone, the translation I read is contained in five volumes and totals more than 2400 pages!).

hannahDOTfree AT gmail.com

Nise' said...

Shortly after our yellow lab Bailey died unexpectedly, a friend asked if I read Marley and Me. I had not and am so glad that I did. I laughed and cried and it helped with the grief. Our Bailey was alot like Marley.

Kristina said...

I never used to read Memoirs or Biographies...I just found them boring, or thought I would because I'd never read one. So one of my book club friends recommended A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel. It was a hoot, I loved it! Now I don't hesitate to try Memoirs or Biographies because you never know!

Bobbi said...

I had a friend recommend the first Harry Potter book to me - almost 2 years BEFORE they became so wildly popular!

Tara said...

Actually, just like Bobbi commented above me I had a friend recommend the Harry Potter books to me a couple years ago and I LOVED them! It surprised me.

Nicole said...

My best recommendation was an anti-recommendation of sorts. My friend had read Bel Canto by Ann Patchett and hated it and had heard that a lot of people loved it, and so she wanted me to read it and tell her what I thought. Well, I loved it and went on to read Run and I loved that even more. Might just be my fav book of the year.

Anna said...

My ex-boyfriend years ago gave me "Girl Interrupted" for Christmas and said the book reminded him of me. I didn't realize I was crazy! LOL

--Anna (Diary of an Eccentric)
diaryofaneccentric[at]hotmail[dot]com

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