Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Debut of Chapter Two and 364 Other Pages PS: Don't miss the giveaway!

By Laura Spinella

Well, here we are, BEAUTIFUL DISASTER’S debut. Six weeks to write the rough draft, six years to this moment. I have the champagne; who brought the glasses? You’re right—straight from the bottle it is. During the last half-dozen years many things have changed. Two daughters graduated from high school, one ending up on the campus of the book’s setting, Athens, Georgia. I so did not see that coming. Kahlua, the golden retriever who listened dutifully to a jagged first draft is gone. Never replaced, but the void has been filled by a cockapoo and a miniature golden doodle. Excellent listeners, zero shedding… marginal critiques. And BEAUTIFUL DISASTER, what changed there? Oh, that’s right. This is a blog, not a book. In deference to the celebration, let’s make this quick and go with what didn’t change: Chapter Two.

When the finished copies arrived, it occurred to me that Chapter Two was nearly identical to the one I wrote manically on a rainy Saturday six Aprils ago. Soaked to the bone, my muse decided to come inside that day, tracking mud through the living room and an idea across my brain. Positive that my first Chapter Two and the polished print version couldn’t be the same, I scavenged basement boxes in search of an original copy. (Um, everybody has a stash of those, right?) Last week, inside a musty closet, with the world surrounded by Christmas, I sat with Easter decorations at my feet, leaning against a Hefty bag of clothes bound for Good Will. There, I compared a brave but pitiable draft to the glossy covered finished product. Pitiable with the exception of Chapter Two. I was right—if Kahlua were here, she’d back me up. The narrative and dialogue from Chapter Two read almost verbatim to the ’05 version. Clearly, from the timeline, the majority of the book took work, and lots of it. But I also recall writing that chapter, the telltale pulse that dictated the rest of the story. Today, I see the synchronicity of something I thoroughly doubted, while simultaneously understanding that it was meant to be. At the end of this blog I’ll share a snippet of Chapter Two. It’s a piece of BEAUTIFUL DISASTER that played a large role in keeping me on the path to here.

Showing off a finished copy to Auggie.

In the meantime, since this is debut day and I’m the novice, I’d like to know how you spent (or will spend) yours. Honestly, I don’t have much planned. It’s a Tuesday, which means the people I hang with are in mid-week mode, consumed by making it to Wednesday. Many friends are too many miles away to do more than offer a giant shout out via Facebook. My husband is decidedly, unavoidably, out of the country. Feel free to interpret that any way you’d like. And since Boston and balmy have nothing in common, particularly in January, any ideas about a Main Street parade are out. I’m okay with the quiet. The moment may have arrived, but I suspect this thing will continue to move at marathon pace. Still, I’d love to hear about your debut day. Did your phone ring endlessly? Did your best friend throw you a launch party? Or maybe your publisher—or maybe that only happens in the movies. Perhaps you did your first book signing that very day. Tell me about it. If you’re that all important reader, not a writer, I hope you find the muse inspired excerpt intriguing; I think it’s the bridge between there and here. A signed copy of BEAUTIFUL DISASTER will go randomly to one commenter. We’ll blindfold the cockapoo and let her pick. Don’t forget to leave your contact info so she can look you up. Thanks for reading, and thank you for sharing in BEAUTIFUL DISASTER’S debut.

                                                    Athens, Georgia, thirteen years ago

The bike rumbled up to the curb in downtown Athens, announcing his arrival like a lion advancing on new territory. Goddamn, but it was hot. He was used to hot places. Not that he had ever learned to like them. Rural Indiana, where he grew up; Parris Island; the bottom of hell—he always ended up in places where sweat was part of the dress code. The sidewalk was thick with college kids; they kept the place going, from what he had heard. College towns were a handy place to hang for a while. Nobody asked too many questions. If anything, people encouraged a come-as-you-are attitude. The casualness appealed to him. Conforming would never work out—ask any Marine.

Athens, Georgia

An eternity on the bike coupled by hours in a traffic jam had left his longs legs cramped and a little wobbly. Food would be good idea. He tugged at the sweaty jeans that were seared to his skin and pulled a red bandana from his pocket, blotting his grimy brow. Stepping to the curb, he attempted to blend in with the crowds of backpacks and portable CD players. He felt staring eyes as he moved among them. Girls mostly. Girls always looked at him. He wasn’t the typical fare, with hair as long as theirs and the scruffy beard. On most days it led to the Jesus remark before lunch. He didn’t care, but sometimes he wanted to lean into their probing, dewy eyes and whisper, “Yeah, just think what your old man would do if you brought me home.” He liked college towns, but he wasn’t interested in college girls. Despite their glances, they weren’t really looking for a guy like him either.

Laura blogs at www.lauraspinella.net, catch her signing dates on the events page, join BEAUTIFUL DISASTER’S Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Beautiful-Disaster-A-Novel/161793947170701 


  1. Congratulations on your launch. I have yet to snag an agent or an editor or a book deal, but I think if it were my launch day, I might dance outside in a tutu I stole from my daughter's closet. Or I might walk downtown to get coffee, wearing rainboots and swinging a jaunty umbrella. I might haunt bookstores looking for my book or clearing the shelves where my book will land.

  2. Congrats on the book's debut Laura! You've waited a long time for this so hope you enjoy this time thoroughly! The character in chapter two sounds fascinating--can't wait to read!

  3. Congrats on your new release! I know it is an exciting time.

  4. Happy, happy pub day! Atlanta Mag raved about your book. Hope you saw that. On pub day, I always go out and visit my books in the store, just in case they are lonely.

  5. I love it! Very intriguing.

    So, launch day . . . flash back to July 2006. The night before, my husband and I threw a huge party for all our friends to celebrate. It was great fun. The actual day, I got calls from friends who'd spotted it in bookstores and that afternoon, I went to the local B&N to see if it was there. It wasn't on the shelves so I screwed up my courage and asked about it. When the manager realized I was the author, she brought out two boxes of books, set me up at a table and had me sign all of them. I pretty much floated home.

    Have a great day!

  6. Congratulations on your publication day! You give me hope that one day, I'll be thinking about how to celebrate. I'd probably have a champagne lunch with my writers group and give them each signed copies and a great big thank you.

  7. Melissa Keller (mkeller5236@charter.net)January 4, 2011 at 10:28 AM

    Wow, what an exciting day for you! I think I would just be giddy. As a reader only, I am excited for books to hit the shelves, can't imagine being the writer and having that be my book! Do whatever feels right to mark this day in your history! Congratulations!!! The excerpt is awesome, definitely is tugging at me to go pick this up for myself! Can't wait to see your name on my shelves.

  8. Happy pub day!!

    For my two launch days, I had book parties at night, so I spent the day primping and trying to get glam (all while checking my Amazon rankings like a loony....)

    Why not swing by some local bookstores and sign their stock for them? Nothing makes you feel more like an author than going to a bookstore and saying, "I wrote that!"

  9. I remember how excited my mom would get when she'd get her boxes of books from the publisher. She was always more excited about that than the checks that came all too infrequently.

    Congratulations on publication!

    lana.baker at gmail.com

  10. I have a straw!! (for the champagne).
    I'm very excited for you, Laura. I loved reading your post and excerpt and celebrated by ordering your book which is being delivered to my Kindle as I write this. Yay!! Happy pub day!

  11. Congrats on the new release! Thanks for the chance to win!
    ra6352 (at) gmail (dot) com

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  13. How rewarding to have this day finally here! The excerpt leaves me wanting to know more! Especially since I used to live in Georgia and attended many UGA games. Congrats!!


  14. Wow! You may refer to yourself as a novice, however, you write like a pro - the proof is in the publishing. Congratulations on this great accomplishment! You are an inspiration. The glimpse of Chapter Two is very intriguing. He seems like the dangerous type most girls are drawn to, regardless of what "the old man" would say. Looking forward to reading the rest. Enjoy this very special and successful day - I wish you many more.

  15. Congratulations, Laura - what a great cover!

  16. Congratulations Laura! I think I would also hit the local book stores and maybe even a B&N and offer to sign their copies. I can't imagine how exciting it would be to see my own work in a book store!!
    I love the small taste of the book, and can't wait to read more!

  17. Laura, Congratulations! I love the title, cover, everything;)

  18. Congratulations on your new release! I'm not an author, but if I were I think I would spend this day prowling local book stores and telling everyone who dared to enter, "I wrote that!" with a huge smile on my face.

  19. Congratulations on your Release Day Laura!
    Thank you for the pictures too.
    All the best,

  20. Ack! Trying this again because my last comment didn't go through...

    CONGRATS, LAURA!!! I really enjoyed reading the excerpt from Beautiful Disaster and I wish you a wonderful release day ;).

  21. You rock GF!! Congrats!!!!! We home girls are so proud of you!!!!

  22. Thank you for all the wonderful comments, fellow bloggers AND readers! I loved reading all your would-be and acutal release day ideas! I also heeded the advice, found a straw, and signed copies at my B&N! It was fun! Unbeknownst to me, my daughter bought one on her way home. She said, "Look at this, Mom! How did they do that?" (she's really a very smart girl,lol) Lola (the cockapoo) will choose a winner later at random. Thank you all so much for sharing in this day!

  23. Congratulations on your debut day! I'm a reader, not a writer, so I don't have my own story to share, but I can say all the best to you and to your beautiful book.

    I'd love to win a copy, of course :)


  24. How wonderful...congratulations! The book sounds fantastic & I would love a chance to read it!