My blogging buddy, who is also a published author, is stopping by today for a chat about her debut memoir, Dangled Carat, and writing. You can find my review of her memoir here. I met Hilary Grossman this summer via the wonderful world of Internet and our friendship blossomed instantaneously. Let’s get started. Hello, Hilary!
For the most part, writing my story was pretty easy. I am the type of person who can meet someone in line at the supermarket and share my entire life story. However there were two parts that were difficult…. The first was the sex scene. My first draft didn’t have any S-E-X in it. My editor, Christina Baker Kline, told me that I couldn’t have a dating / relationship memoir without any sex. I knew she was right, but I couldn’t bring myself to write it. I stared at the monitor for about an hour before I typed the first word.. It was so awkward. The second was when I wrote about my scoliosis brace. Until I wrote the book I never admitted to anyone how difficult wearing the brace was for me, and how badly I was teased.
You also include your family and friends in the memoir. Was everyone supportive of the project?
Yes, everyone has been great! They all encouraged me to write the story and have been helping me promote the book as well. They are all loving reading about themselves. I always joked that they were a cast of characters but now it is true.
What inspired you to write your memoir?
I always wanted to write a book about my relationship with Marc. I felt like our story was very relatable and something that so many women experience – dating a commitment phobic man. I wanted others to feel like they weren’t alone. I started blogging about 4 years ago with this book in mind, kind of like practice. Then two years ago I went to a Blogher conference about turning a blog into a book. It was an amazing conference and it totally motivated me to stop dreaming and start writing. I started writing Dangled Carat that very weekend!
Are you working on any other projects or do you have an idea for another book? Would you ever consider writing fiction or do you prefer nonfiction?
I am not currently working on anything right now, but I do have another project in mind. Last year, like so many others, I was a victim of Hurricane Sandy. I live on the beach and home suffered major, major damages. In addition, we lost a car, didn’t have electricity for close to a month. By far, the aftermath of the storm was one of the most difficult experiences of my life, but also one of my best. It really affected me, changed my outlook on life, and taught me who and what was really important. I would like to write about this experience. Oh, there were plenty of funny moments too!
I would love to try fiction too someday. In fact many years ago my first attempt at writing was a fiction Mafia story. I wrote about 80 pages and then flaked out, never picking it up again.
What, if anything, did you learn about yourself and your relationship while writing Dangled Carat?
I actually learned a lot – writing Dangled Carat was almost like going to therapy. It really made me think about my dating choices and why I chose to stay with Marc as long as I did. I realized how my dad’s death affected me, especially with relationships. And also, writing this story forced me to face my insecurities and admit them. I usually hide behind a tough facade, but sharing my story made me bring my walls down and share my heart and soul.
Before self-publishing you contacted some agents. What did you learn from that process? Why did you decide to go the self-publishing route?
I did contact agents. I spent about six month’s querying. It was a nerve wracking experience. I went into it understanding that it was extremely unlikely that an agent would take on an unknown author, but I knew if I didn’t try I would regret it. I was fortunate. I had five agents request either the full or partial manuscript. This gave me the confidence I needed to actually publish. Also, one of the agents who requested the full manuscript, actually spent an hour on the phone with me after the rejection. She had very good suggestions of what I should add to the story, which I did.
I chose to self publish because I wanted to share my story….And self publishing gives you the tools that you need to get your book out there. I also like that you have complete control over your book (from cover design to price to marketing).
Your book has been out for a few weeks. What lessons have you learned? What has been most rewarding? Anything shocking?
I have learned how fortunate I am to have such wonderful family and friends who have been supporting me every step of the way. Also this book allowed me the opportunity to reconnect to people from my past that I lost touch with. It was wonderful to catch up. As for the shocking, I received a FaceBook message from a girl I went to elementary school with who I was very close when we were very young but as we approached middle and high school we drifted apart. She apologized for not knowing how difficult my childhood was (between my brace and my dad) and the fact that we drifted apart….
How did you celebrate when you finally saw your name in print?
The first time I saw my name in print was when the sample books arrived for me to proof/use as a give away. I cried. Then I hit publish on the retail sites a few days before I wanted the book to go live. They warn you it could take two days. It went live instantly. So that time I sort of freaked out because I wasn’t ready and was already late for work….
As for the real celebration, we cracked open a very special bottle of wine from Napa and drank it on the beach and toasted the book… I also bought myself some dangling jewelry!
Thanks Hilary for stopping by for a chat. You are always welcome here!
If you would like to find Hilary, stop by her blog. Here you can see her book trailer and enter a giveaway to win an autographed copy of Dangled Carat, a sterling Silver 1.3 CT Round Cubic Zirconia Solitaire Promise ring . Hurry, the contest ends in three days!
If you would like to purchase her book, it’s available on Amazon.