Tuesday, November 1, 2016

PUYB Virtual Book Club Chats with Eric Joseph & Eva Ungar Grudin

Eric Joseph and Eva Ungar (Grudin) were teenage sweethearts in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, who set a wedding date when they turned 15. The last time they saw each other they were 21 years old. Three years ago they reunited, around the time of the 50th high school reunion. Although their book is a work of fiction, it's about a couple like them, who fall in love again, almost instantly, via email.

Eric is in public health, a consultant/educator at hospitals and clinics, concentrating his career on Native American health services across the country. Eva is an art historian who taught at Williams College in Massachusetts for 40+ years. She specialized in African and African-American art; the history of European painting: also Holocaust Studies - memorials and museums; In addition, she has performed in and written Sounding to A, a multi-media work about inheriting the Holocaust. It premiered at the Ko Festival of Performance in 2004.

Learn more about Eva and Eric and their history together by visiting hargrovepress.com - At the website you'll find memories about their time together in the late 50s, early 60s, as well as interviews from today.

Their latest book is the literary fiction, Save The Last Dance.
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About the Book:

A tale of the power and peril of first love rediscovered.
Adam Wolf and Sarah Ross were teenage sweethearts who grew up in Cleveland Heights, Ohio in the late 50’s and early 60's. They set a wedding date when they turned fifteen. The day came and went.
For most of their lives the two were out of contact.
With their 50th high school reunion approaching, Adam and Sarah reconnect. Email exchanges - after the first tentative "hi", then a deluge- five, ten- by the end of the week twenty emails a day. Soon Sarah admits, "All my life I've been looking for someone who loves me as much as you did".

Written entirely in email and texts, Save the Last Dance allows the reader to eavesdrop on Sarah and Adam's correspondence as their love reignites. It also permits the reader to witness the reactions of significant others, whose hum-drum lives are abruptly jolted by the sudden intrusion of long-dormant passion. Can Sarah and Adam's rekindled love withstand the pummeling they're in for?

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Before you started writing your book, what kind of research did you do to prepare yourself?

Well, even though we wrote about places we'd lived in - Cleveland, Chicago, or had visited, like La Jolla. we did extensive online research to establish how these places look and feel now. For example Eric stayed at the Del Coronado near San Diego a number of years, but we still research what a beachfront suite looks like now and what the main restaurant currently offers on its menu.
For the section of book in which the characters reminisce about Cleveland in the late 1950s, we used the internet to find specific place names and locations we had forgotten.

Did you pursue publishers or did you opt to self-pub?

On the recommendation of writers we knew, we first sent our book to one of their agents. She told us she loved Save the Last Dance, but explained that an intimate exploration of people's lives, doesn't suit the big publishing houses these days. Following an enthusiastic Kirkus review, our novel was picked up by a small start-up press.

If self-published, did you hire someone to format the ebook version for you or did you do it yourself?  Can you tell us what that was like?

One of our attractions to Hargrove Press is that they involved us in the various stages of preparing a manuscript for publication. They hired someone familiar with ebook formatting to prepare the manuscript for various platforms - including Nook, Kindle, Kobo and Istore.

If published by a publisher, what was your deciding factor in going with them?

When Hargrove Press promised we could have a say in how the book looked and in the way it would be publicized, we agreed to look no further.

If published by a publisher, are you happy with the price they chose?

We believe the price of our book, whether in hardcover or paperback is reasonable and competitive.

Did you purposefully choose a distinct month to release your book?  Why?

We pushed to get the book published in the early spring, in time for summer readers. The book launch, however, couldn't be arranged until early June.

How did you choose your cover?

We looked at a cover Hargrove's designer chose and, to the Press's credit, they allowed us to veto that design let us choose one from a collage artist we respect. We find the cover elegant and evocative - twilight tones, a baby bootie, a tattoo of love birds flying free of a cage.

Did you write your book, then revise or revise as you went?

We edited every which way. Sometimes we wouldn't move on with a single sentence before we found just the word or metaphor we needed. In the end, though, it took a year to edit and revise our first complete draft. After inviting some early readers to respond to the manuscript, we made further changes. We revised major sections of Save the Last Dance at least 10 times.

Did you come up with special swag for your book and how are you using it to help get the word out about your book?

No. The publisher preferred promotions to swags. They offered a giveaway to 15 Goodreads participants. They offer an "apply coupon" discount on their website by entering GROUP. They hired a publicist to set up promotions and a book tour. And they selected PUYB as their blog tour of choice (a good pick, we might add).

What’s your opinion on giving your book away to sell other copies of your book?

We did participate in a giveaway with Goodreads, but so far have found it unproductive.

What are three of the most important things you believe an author should do before their book is released?

We recommend

-         Arranging for the manuscript to have a final edit by professional readers.
-         Submitting manuscripts for review at least three months before publication. People take a review by Kirkus Reviews and Publisher's Weekly most seriously.
-         Establishing an author's website for your book as far in advance as possible - even a year In addition, be sure to have social media like Twitter and Facebook in place and post to them regularly.

What are three of the most important things you believe an author should do after their book is released?

We recommend authors

-         Be receptive to as many appearances and book signings as possible - from bookstores or book clubs.

-          Let local newspapers and local public access TV know of their books.

-          Make sure all communication with media, book clubs and bookstores is accompanied by an official press release

What kind of pre-promotion did you do before the book came out?

All of the above. Our publicist set up a bookstore book launch party, author interviews for the press and TV, and made sure we were getting out word through social media.

Do you have a long term plan with your book?

Because our public readings have gone so well, we hope to create an audio version of Save the Last Dance, and considering a stage version.

What would you like to say to your readers and fans about your book?

While Save the Last Dance is for all adult readers, it speaks especially to the parents of many reading this blog. People closer to our generation might be uplifted by a story of first love rekindled. And our book may help people of all ages find the courage to change.

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