Watch Women Writers, Women(‘s) Books on Friday, March 1st, for the cover reveal for The Words between Us, which is coming out in September! What better way to celebrate the end of February!
Last night was my first live event to support the launch of We Hope for Better Things.
Baker Book House in Grand Rapids, Michigan, was a perfect venue. Not only is it the retail arm of my publishing house, it is a fantastic space with lots of room for events like these.
I didn’t count, but I would estimate that there were around 50 people who came to listen to me jaw on about the importance of knowing our history in order to improve our future.
There was family — my mom and dad, my aunt, my husband and son, my mother-in-law and father-in-law.
There were dear friends — girls who were on my Little League softball team and stood in my wedding, and fellow writer-friends I met through WFWA who actually made the trip from Chicago (with two more of their friends) to surprise me (and boy I was surprised!).
There was a sweet old lady from the church I attended in my early twenties when I lived in Grand Rapids. There were members of my publishing team and people I’d worked with for well over a decade. There were fellow writers I met through my involvement with the Breathe Writers Conference and the Capital City Writers Association.
And there were lots of people I’d never met before. Several of them grew up in Detroit during the 1960s, which is where the book is partially set. One of them actually went to the same high school as my mom did in Detroit at the same time she was there. Those who had already read it said they really enjoyed seeing their childhood come alive in the book. That was really gratifying to me because it means I not only did my research but I got it onto the page in a compelling way.
All in all, it went well and I know I’ll be less nervous for my next event coming up on January 24th at 7:00pm at Schuler Books & Music in Okemos, MI.
Also, I want to take a moment to point you to a new page on this website. This events page is where I will be putting information about where I will be in the future, just in case you want to connect in person. You can also find it through the media page in the header of the website, along with pages that link to reviews, interviews and articles, and resources for book clubs.
Thanks for reading!!
It’s the first snow day of the season today. Rain turned to snow overnight, making for nasty driving conditions. We woke up to about four or five inches, and it’s still snowing. We managed to get the patio furniture covered and get some firewood inside before it all started coming down.
Sleeping in, fresh cinnamon rolls for a late breakfast, and a snug day inside our little brick house. Snow days aren’t so bad. And now that the boy is ten, I actually get some work done as well.
This weekend I edited and scheduled the next several weeks’ worth of the Your Face Is Crooked podcast (including this week’s episode). Today I will record a new outro to add to the end of each episode. We’re just about five weeks away from the release of We Hope for Better Things, and starting in January, I’ll no longer be telling people about how they can pre-order it. Instead, you’ll actually be able to buy it outright! (A great use of all those Amazon and Barnes and Noble gift cards you’ll be getting at Christmas.)
I’m excited and nervous (mostly about my two live events which I’m kind of dreading). I’m trying to decide just what to do on release day to keep my mind off it and avoid constantly refreshing Amazon to see where it ranks. Since it comes out on New Year’s Day, I guess I’ll be taking down the Christmas decorations and cleaning the house. It’s a glamorous life, but someone needs to live it.
For today, I’m working. And writing. And cooking my own Thanksgiving dinner because every year we go to someone else’s house and so I never get any leftovers. If you find yourself at home today because of snow (or if you’re one of those unfortunate souls stuck at an airport because of it) you might want to check out the Your Face Is Crooked podcast. Each episode is short and amusing and maybe they’ll brighten your cloudy day a bit.
Here’s this week’s ep:
“We Hope for Better Things by Erin Bartels is a one astounding read. This literary debut novel holds so much intensity. I felt the pain, loss, love, and hope. It was like a fresh battle wound that would not fade. A constant reminder of what never died. Still wounds like these exist, today.”
We Hope for Better Things blends family drama, mystery, and romance into one intriguing story. How did you come up with the plot for your debut novel?
It started with the idea of the photographer—the invisible presence whenever we look at a photo. From there, the story grew . . . a lot. Once it was clear that race relations was going to be part of Nora’s story, I began to think about how quickly a family’s legacy might change. How long would it take to go from brotherhood to bigotry and back again? How long does it take a wound to heal?
With so many great elements, who would you say is your target audience?
My target audience is thoughtful readers who are troubled by the times we live in and are looking for sense in what seems like chaos. People who want to know they’re not the only ones who yearn for meaning in the midst of what often feels like an incomprehensible world.
We’re now just nine weeks away from the release date! It’s hard to believe after working on this for so long, it will actually finally be out in the world for people to read!
If you want to pre-order a copy, the buy links are on my Books page.
After I sold my debut novel and got a 2019 pub date, I joined a group of other writers on Facebook whose debut novels are coming out in 2019. The writers in this group are all writers of adult or new adult fiction. They are men and women of various backgrounds writing in various genres — contemporary, historical, sci-fi, fantasy, paranormal, romance, and more. We’ve been holding each other up, comparing notes, reassuring each other, and answering one another’s questions for months as we’ve gone through the process of getting edits, seeing galleys, seeing cover designs, etc. It’s been an awesome resource and a great source of encouragement to all of us.
Starting today, you get to meet them!
If you love to read and you want to be up on the up-and-comers, head over to Twitter and follow the #DebutAuthors19 and #Debut19Chat hashtags. Starting today and every day throughout the month of August, we’ll be introducing ourselves, talking about our books and our publishing journeys, and giving you an inside look at what’s coming to bookstores in 2019.
If you receive my email newsletter, this is old news to you. If you don’t, you should! Those folks all got entered in a drawing to win an Advance Reader Copy of the book months before it actually comes out. (Don’t worry. There will be more opportunities to enter giveaways. But if you’re on my newsletter list, you are automatically entered into every giveaway I do.)
ANYWAY, what I really want to tell you is that we have a cover!
AND the book is already available for pre-order from Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Indiebound, and CBD. Pre-ordering is an excellent way to support a new author. It helps a book gain visibility in an online marketplace of millions of titles. And it shows retailers that there is an audience waiting for your book, which encourages them to take a chance on stocking a book from an unproven author.
When you pre-order, you will not be charged until the book is shipped. It may feel silly ordering a book six months before you can actually read it! But if you know you’re going to check it out anyway, it’s a simple way to lend your support.
Here is what the book is about:
When Detroit Free Press reporter Elizabeth Balsam meets James Rich, his strange request—that she look up a relative she didn’t know she had in order to deliver an old camera and a box of photos—seems like it isn’t worth her time. But when she loses her job after a botched investigation, she suddenly finds herself with nothing but time.
At her great-aunt’s 150-year-old farmhouse, Elizabeth uncovers a series of mysterious items, locked doors, and hidden graves. As she searches for answers to the riddles around her, the remarkable stories of two women who lived in this very house emerge as testaments to love, resilience, and courage in the face of war, racism, and misunderstanding. And as Elizabeth soon discovers, the past is never as past as we might like to think.
Take an emotional journey through time—from the volatile streets of 1960s Detroit to the Underground Railroad during the Civil War—to uncover the past, confront the seeds of hatred, and discover where love goes to hide.
Here’s what a couple bestselling authors have said about it:
“We Hope for Better Things has it all: fabulous storytelling, an emotional impact that lingers long after you turn the last page, and a setting that immerses you. I haven’t read such a powerful, moving story since I read To Kill a Mockingbird in high school. This book will change how you look at the world we live in. Highly recommended!”—Colleen Coble, USA TODAY bestselling author of the Rock Harbor series and The View From Rainshadow Bay
“A timely exploration of race in America, We Hope for Better Things is an exercise of empathy that will shape many a soul. Erin Bartels navigates this sensitive topic with compassion as she shifts her readers back and forth between past and present, nudging us to examine the secrets we keep, the grudges we hold, and the prejudices we may help create even without intention.”—Julie Cantrell, New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of Perennials
I can’t thank you enough for your support!
And you can be the first to find out what it is by signing up TODAY to receive my monthly email newsletter. Why today? Because it gets sent out tomorrow!
Not only will you get news — like titles, cover reveals, and promos — about my books before anyone else, this year you’ll also get to read profiles of some really incredible people throughout history who have led the fight against slavery, segregation, and Jim Crow, people who have thrown off the chains of servitude, saved lives, given their lives, and inspired reformers to press for justice and equality.
Why? Because my debut novel, [click here today to find out the title tomorrow], is a story told through the eyes of three women who find themselves hiding escaped slaves, marrying someone of another race, or witnessing a racially motivated incident. It’s high drama, but it’s nothing compared to what real people really did in real life. And I want to share those amazing stories with you.
I hope you’ll join me by signing up!
You may have noticed that the last time you loaded ErinBartels.com (which might have been just seconds ago) that I now have a way for you to subscribe to a monthly email newsletter. If you already signed up, thank you! If not, that’s okay too. (If you change your mind, you can just click here to sign up.)
Either way, if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time you may be thinking, Since when does Erin have a monthly newsletter? And the answer is, since next month. 🙂
Starting in April, I’ll be putting together a once-a-month, subscriber-only newsletter that will be delivered right to your email inbox. Why subscribe when you already read the blog? So glad you asked. Here are a few things subscribers will get that the casual blog reader will not:
- Be the first to hear about new projects, publishing contracts, and book release dates
- See book cover designs before anyone else
- Enter subscriber-only giveaways and contests (like a chance to name a character!)
- See where I will be speaking in upcoming months
- Get links to articles that have caught my eye recently
- And more!
I value your time and your trust, so I promise never to bombard your inbox with emails or share your email address with anyone else.
Click below for a lovely little interview with David Maraniss about his book, Once in a Great City. It touches on several of the themes (and even a couple events) found in my novel, The Bone Garden, which will be going out on submission later this month. Though it’s not my hometown, I love Detroit. It’s my parents’ hometown, my extended family’s hometown, a city that looms large in my imagination and to which I feel an intrinsic connection. I can’t wait to read Maraniss’s book.