“The names have been changed to protect the innocent,” jokes novelist Wendy Wax about her new book The Accidental Bestseller. “It’s not a roman a clef, but I admit that parts of it are somewhat autobiographical. A few people may think they recognize themselves, but the real life experiences at its core are actually compilations of my own and other authors’ agonies, ecstasies and observations.”
The novel centers on a writer who, with her editor gone and her sales in a slump, discovers how merciless the business of book publishing can be. With the help of three writer friends, whose own successes range from modest sales to international renown, she faces daunting personal and professional setbacks as she struggles to pursue her dream. Wendy notes “I’ve intensified the difficulties, thrown in an empty nest, a cheating husband and taken a whole boatload of liberties, but I still see the story as a realistic look at the challenges confronting many published authors.”
In The Accidental Bestseller (Berkley Trade, June ’09), Wendy explores the depth of women’s friendships and the emotional bonds that tie people to their families, their friends and their work. The writing itself proved somewhat cathartic for Wendy, mostly because, like her protagonist, she at one time contended with the emotions and stress involved with switching publishers. She also ended up sharing other attributes with her character. Each lives in the Atlanta area, has written numerous novels, maintains strong friendships with other women novelists, is married, has two children, and enjoys spending time in the mountains of northern Georgia.
A native of St. Petersburg, Florida, Wendy has come a long way since her days at Sunshine Elementary School. As a child she read voraciously, was a regular at her local library, and became fast friends with Nancy Drew and Anne of Green Gables. Her love affairs with language and storytelling paid off beginning with her first shift at the campus radio station while studying journalism at the University of Georgia.
After returning to her home state and graduating from the University of South Florida she worked for the Tampa PBS affiliate, WEDU-TV, behind and in front of the camera. Her resume includes on air work, voiceovers and production of a variety of commercial projects and several feature films. She may be best known in the Tampa Bay area as the host of Desperate & Dateless, a radio matchmaking program that aired on WDAE radio, and nationally as host of The Home Front, a magazine format show that aired on PBS affiliates across the country.
The mother of a toddler and an infant when she decided to change careers, she admits it was not the best timing in terms of productivity. “I’m still not certain why I felt so compelled to write my first novel at that particular time,” she says, “but that first book took forever.” Since then she’s written six more books, including Single in Suburbia and THE ACCIDENTAL BESTSELLER. Her work has been sold to publishers in ten countries and to the Rhapsody Book Club. Her novel, Hostile Makeover, was excerpted in Cosmopolitan magazine.
Wendy lives with her husband John and her baseball-crazy teenage sons in the Atlanta suburbs where she spends most of her non-writing time on baseball fields or driving to them. She continues to devour books and is busy producing Accidental Radio, a new feature on her web site.
You can visit her website at www.authorwendywax.com.
Who knew the truth would make such great fiction?
Once upon a time four aspiring authors met at a writers’ conference. Ten years later they’re still friends, veterans of the dog-eat-dog New York publishing world.
Mallory St. James is a workaholic whose novels support her and her husband’s lavish lifestyle. Tanya Mason juggles two jobs, two kids, and a difficult mother. Faye Truett is the wife of a famous televangelist and the author of bestselling inspirational romances; no one would ever guess her explosive secret. Kendall Aims’s once-promising career is on the skids—as is her marriage. Her sales have fallen, her new editor can barely feign interest in her work—and her husband is cheating.
Under pressure to meet her next deadline, Kendall holes up in a mountain cabin to confront a blank page and a blanker future. But her friends won’t let her face this struggle alone. They collaborate on a novel none of them could write by herself, using their own lives as fodder, assuming no one will discover the truth behind their words.
No one is more surprised than they are when the book becomes a runaway bestseller. But with success comes scrutiny and scandal. Now all bets are off….as these four best friends suddenly realize how little they’ve truly known each other.
‘The profession of book writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business.’ John Steinbeck
Kendall Aims’ writing career was about to go down for the count on that Friday night in July as she hurried down Sixth Avenue toward the New York Hilton.
It had taken many blows over the last year and a half–the first when her editor left Scarsdale Publishing to have a baby, leaving Kendall orphaned and unloved; another when her new editor, a plain, humorless woman named Jane Jensen, informed her that her sales numbers were slipping. And still another when they showed her the cover for the book she’d just turned in; a cover so bland and uninteresting that even Kendall didn’t want to open it. And on which her name had shrunk to a size that required a magnifying glass to read it.
She landed on the ropes when the print run for this new book was announced. Kendall’s first thought was that someone had forgotten to type in the rest of the zeros. Because even she, who had given up on math long ago, could see at a glance that even if they sold every one of these books, which now seemed unlikely, she’d never earn out the advance she’d been paid.
Looking back, it seemed as if one day she was perched prettily on the publishing ladder, poised to make all the bestseller lists, the next the rungs had given way beneath her feet leaving her dangling above a bubbling pit of insecurity and self doubt. Not to mention obscurity.
Tonight her publisher, like all the other publishers participating in this year’s national conference of the Wordsmiths, Incorporated., or WINC as it was affectionately abbreviated, had hosted an obligatorily expensive dinner for its stable of authors. There, Kendall had smiled and eaten and pretended that she was happy to write for them while they pretended that even after eight years spent proving otherwise, they still intended to make her a household name.
Now, one filet mignon, two glasses of wine and a crème brule later, Kendall hurried through the hotel lobby barely noticing the knots of chattering women scattered through it. The waistband of her pantyhose pinched painfully and her toes, more used to Nike’s than Blahniks, throbbed unmercifully. She felt, and she suspected, looked like what she was—a suburban Atlanta housewife whose children had left the nest and whose husband barely noticed her. At 45 not even expensive highlights and a boatload of Lycra could disguise the fact that her body had given up its struggle against gravity.
She reached the lounge and was already scanning the crowd for familiar faces when two women stepped up beside her. One was tall and blocky, the other short and round. A cloud of nervousness surrounded them.
“Let’s just walk through and pretend we’re looking for someone.” The tall one was clearly in charge, her broad shoulders set in determination.
“Do we have to? We don’t know anyone and we aren’t anyone either,” the other one whispered. “What if we do see an agent or an editor? What are we supposed to do then?”
Kendall flushed with memory. She might have been either one of these women ten years ago. Shy, insecure and dreaming of publication, she’d been stuck on the fringes of her first national conference desperate to sell the book she’d somehow managed to write, but unable to imagine how it could possibly happen.
“We’re just going to make a quick pass,” the taller one promised. “At least we’ll be seen. And be sure to keep an eye out for any opportunities. Half the point of being here is to network.”
“Come on. Just follow me. The worst thing that’s going to happen is nothing.”
Kendall smiled, drawn out of her own misery for the first time since she’d arrived in New York early that afternoon. She and Mallory and Tanya and Faye had met at their first Wordsmiths, Incorporated conference in Orlando; all four of them wannabes who’d stood knees knocking, waiting for their turn to pitch an idea during editor and agent appointments. Fifteen minutes to try to sell yourself and your talent to a twenty something girl who held all the power and couldn’t understand why you, who might be as old as her mother, or possibly her grandmother, were unable to keep your voice from cracking as you delivered your carefully memorized pitch.
They’d bonded then and there, four women of disparate ages and even more disparate backgrounds drawn together by their fear and longing.
Read more excerpt at Wendy Wax’s website here!