My essay on DIY book trailers at The Quivering Pen, JUVENTUD reviewed in the latest Rain Taxi, & other good news!

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“Writers on writing” has long been a common spin-off of the creative writing vocation, the category now expanded to, or usurped by, “writers on publicity.” Writers guest-blogging about their book tours, their social media campaigns (“on blogging”), their wardrobes and workout regimens. As an emerging writer I find it pretty impossible to buck against this trend; I suppose one could, but you find it is hard enough to drum up attention for a several-hundred-page literary work by an unknown (new) author. The best strategy I’ve found is to pick and choose what and how I want to write about publicity, and to think hard about what information I can provide to fellow burgeoning writers that might really prove useful.

So here are my two latest micro-essays of sorts, that hopefully do more than add to the infinite void of promo-chatter: my contribution to the “Writers Recommend” series at Poets & Writers on the benefits of bellydance, and another for the “My First Time” series at The Quivering Pen blog on how to create your own amazing book trailer.

December brings list season, of course, and it warmed my heart to see Juventud included on this one from Flavorwire, on “15 Books You Might Have Missed this Year.” This week also brought the happy news that critic John Domini has reviewed the novel for the Winter 2016 issue of Rain Taxi Review of Books, a fine publication available in print only. Tremendously exciting!

And finally, the good fellows over at Burrow Press finally have the podcast recording of my interview about Juventud with Functionally Literate radio up on Soundcloud. I had a great time in the WPRK studio talking about the novel with co-hosts Jared Silvia and Ryan Rivas, although be forewarned that we delve into a tangential conversation on first person narration mid-way through. Enjoy the listen. More soon!

Interviews at Fiction Writers Review and the Orlando Weekly, plus letter to my adolescent self at DEAR TEEN ME

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Gearing up for the hometown launch of Juventud tomorrow evening at 6-9pm at the East End Market, and crossing fingers here that we’ve got enough copies of the novel for the crowd that will be descending after this locally-focused author spotlight in the current issue of the Orlando Weekly. I’ll be spending this evening baking Colombian sugar cookies for tomorrow night’s festivities, and perhaps a few other surprises.

More great press this week, including a conversation I had recently with Barrett Bowlin about Juventud at Fiction Writers Review. “Train Shots,” the story, was published under his editorship of Harpur Palate and you can imagine his excitement in following the collection’s success, especially the news that it has been optioned for film.

An especially enjoyable piece to write was the letter to my adolescent self, featured this week at DEAR TEEN ME. I tackled a subject I’ve been itching to write about for a while — how the AIDS scare paralyzed my generation — although I never would have guessed my essay would emerge in the shape of a letter…to myself. Hope you enjoy the read.

Lastly, thanks to Ryan Rivas and LitHub for including me in 30 Questions for 30 Writers at the Miami Book Fair, which is in just a couple of weeks. MBFI is one of my favorite literary events in the Sunshine State, and it will be a dream come true to present Juventud to the audience there on Saturday, Nov. 21st.

Now, off to bake!

An excerpt of JUVENTUD at Joyland, and the latest Interview at the Masters Review!

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Wondering what I’ve been reading at all these far-flung tour stops? Joyland literary magazine featured an exclusive excerpt from Juventud this week, which happens to be the scene I find myself reading the most often. It’s definitely one of my favorites in the novel, one that seems to spur thoughtful Q&A as it did last night with the attentive crowd who came out for my author talk at the West Hartford library. Students, library regulars, VCFA and Bread Loaf alums filled the house, and it was truly a joy to catch up at long last with friends old and new.

Also this week, my latest interview on Juventud is featured at the Masters Reviewhttps://mastersreview.com/interview-vanessa-blakeslee-on-her-debut-novel-juventud/. Hope you enjoy. Meanwhile, I’m off to catch a bus and then Amtrak, for tonight’s reading at the Dire Literary Series in Boston.

Happy pub date to JUVENTUD, and high praise from Publisher’s Weekly!

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Publisher’s Weekly loves Juventud! Here’s what they have to say: “What begins as running away from tragedy and betrayal turns into seeking out the reconciliation of one’s past. This tale of self-discovery and intense first love is spiced with bursts of action and curious twists. It will engage readers who have a soft spot for entertaining storytelling and a familiarity with Colombian social history.”

After a month on the road of speaking to audiences and signing copies, today’s *official* pub date feels somewhat surreal. For a taste of what it’s like to be “in conversation with” the novel, check out this wonderful interview from earlier this month with my longtime friend, fiction writer Robin Rozanski, who teaches at The Loft, for their blog: The Loft Interview with Vanessa Blakeslee. Robin and I have been fast friends since I first walked into Pat Rushin’s contemporary fiction class back in August 2002, and enjoyed a wonderful sojourn in the Czech Republic back in 2005 as participants in the Prague Summer Program.

Tonight, if you’re in the Orlando area, I’ll be presenting Juventud and talking about the novel drafting process as a guest of the UCF MFA program’s GWA series. The campus bookstore will have copies for sale/signing. The event is free and open to the public.

JUVENTUD playlist at Largehearted Boy, and the latest Q&A with Deborah Kalb

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I wrote about the music that inspired Juventud for Largehearted Boy (read the list and check out the songs here: Juventud playlist on Spotify). From classical guitar to Shakira’s pop hits, salsa to Mark Piszczek’s “Dangerous Times,” these are the tunes I turned to again and again.

Also this week, a conversation about Juventud with Deborah Kalb for her excellent blog, who interviewed me last year for Train Shots. Read our latest chat here: Book Q&A with Vanessa Blakeslee

Finally, today, at long last, I return to Florida for a (brief!) breather and then the first book launch events in my home state, beginning next week. I’ll be speaking to the GWA at UCF, 7:00 pm, HPA Room 126. Free and open to the public. The UCF Barnes & Noble will be there with books for sale, and of course, I’ll be signing afterward.

 

JUVENTUD Research Notes & Book Trailer up at Necessary Fiction

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Wonder what went into building the vivid world of turbulent 1990s Colombia in Juventud? Some of the primary footage I referenced while drafting the book also ended up in the official book trailer, released last month by the good folks at The Rumpus. You can read my notes and view the trailer today over at Necessary FictionJuventud Research Notes & Book Trailer

John King and I discuss JUVENTUD in the latest episode of The Drunken Odyssey

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Such a pleasure it was to have this conversation with my friend and Drunken Odyssey host, John King, about my debut novel, Juventud, what inspired the story, and to a greater extent, the novel-writing process. You may listen here:

Interview with Vanessa Blakeslee about her novel, Juventud

More to come soon — today’s book tour stop brings me to the Heartland Fall Forum in Chicago, IL, where I’ll be pitching the novel to independent booksellers from across the Midwest in a speed-dating style lunch event cleverly dubbed, the “Moveable Feast.” Wish me luck!

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