the nervous breakdown

Question of the Month: Public Speaking

by Susan Henderson on February 7, 2011

What makes you the most nervous about public speaking? And what helps you get through?


I’ve been doing speaking engagements all month–book clubs, a reading in Brooklyn (with the remarkable writers Jessica Anya Blau and Paula Bomer), and a panel at BookMania in Stuart, Florida.

My fellow panelists at BookMania: Elizabeth Berg (author of THE LAST TIME I SAW YOU and the Oprah Book Club selection, OPEN HOUSE), Joyce Maynard (author of THE GOOD DAUGHTERS and the movie-adapted novel, TO DIE FOR), Michael Morris (author of SLOW WAY HOME), and Martha McPhee (National Book Award finalist and author of DEAR MONEY).

The moderator asked the most engaging questions, and while my hands were shaking with nerves (I clasped them together under the table), I found I’m not as nervous when I think more about the other panelists and their answers than I do about me. I try to think of it as a conversation rather than a performance, and that helps a lot.


In other news, UP FROM THE BLUE is in its 4th printing, and it’s now in Costco…

And this photo is courtesy of the beautiful Kiwi screenwriter, Eileen-Rita Folwell, who snapped a shot in her local New Zealand bookstore…

Thank you to everyone who sent photos. I really appreciate them. And thank you to these wonderful people who reviewed UP FROM THE BLUE this month: The Fabulous Beekman Boys, Sarah-Kate Lynch in New Zealand Woman’s Weekly, Nicky Pellegrino in the New Zealand Herald News, Marion at Cover Me Book Review, Laura de Leon at Booking It, Michele Harrod at GoodReads, Karen and Gerard at Grab a Book from Our Stack.

Two quick announcements before I go: Many good friends and cherished colleagues have books out now (or coming out soon) and I’ve put together a shout-out over on FaceBook because I’m so proud of them. And on February 18th at B.B. King’s (42nd Street, Times Square), my 9th grader will be performing Pink Floyd’s The Wall with the School of Rock All-Stars. Oh, and The Today Show will be filming it!


Question of the Month: Title

by Susan Henderson on December 7, 2009

Tell me some of your favorite book titles. What do you think makes a good title? What catches your eye?


I’m asking this partly because, once again, I have to find a new title for my book. The marketing team thinks THE RUBY CUP sounds more like YA Fantasy than literary fiction, and I think they’re right. But how to find a title that fits?


I have a few links to share. First, when I announced a couple of months ago that I’d no longer be running interviews (because I need to knuckle down and devote my time to writing books), Meredith Resnick very graciously offered to take care of some of the folks I’d planned to talk with. You can read her interviews over at The Writers Inner Journey. And in particular, I’d love for you to read about author Tod Goldberg, and Gina Frangello, one of the best and most generous editors I know.


Second, if you’re not already a fan of The Nervous Breakdown, the site’s been completely and wildly improved. It’s getting tens of thousands of hits a month, and I hope you’ll read (and maybe even contribute) to the TNB community. I have a weekly column over there called The Evolution of the Book, which has been culled from my monthly wraps at LitPark. The goal of this column is not only to buoy the frustrated writer by letting off steam about things like rejection, close calls, and endless waiting, but also to show a road map of sorts as to how I got this book written and sold. Whether it’s a road map you want to follow or whether you want to learn from my mistakes and take a different path is up to you!