December 2017 News and EventS

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Shelter, a Julia Ward Howe Award Finalist, has been described as a gripping family saga, a thriller, and haunting page turner as well as “a sharp knife of a novel.” It’s an unforgettable read, all the more remarkable as a debut novel by Jung Jun. In this month’s feature interview, Jung talks about coming to grips with her book’s dark themes, finding a publisher, and her willingness to write (and discard) hundreds of pages to transform her characters into fully developed people.

Q> Shelter is your first published novel. Was there a particular catalyst that inspired you to write this book?

A> I'd been thinking about a character like Kyung for many years—someone unlikeable but understandably, maybe even justifiably, so. I just couldn’t figure out the right story for him until 2007. I was living in Massachusetts at the time, and there was a highly publicized home invasion in Cheshire, Connecticut, which was about an hour-and-a-half away. A man survived a night of violence at the hands of two career criminals, but his wife and daughters were killed. Quite honestly, I didn't understand how someone could ever recover from losing his loved ones that way. I began to question how a family with a long history of violence might respond to being the victims of violence themselves, and over time, that seemed like a question that Kyung could answer.

Q> Shelter includes powerful, dark themes from violent home invasion to domestic abuse. Were there any scenes that were particularly difficult for you to write? How did you work your way through them?

A> One of the most challenging scenes to figure out how to write was the one in which Kyung learned what happened to his parents during the home invasion. It was absolutely necessary for him to know the details, but it seemed unlikely that he would hear those details from either of his parents. Over time, it made more and more sense for Connie, Kyung's father-in-law and a police officer, to intervene. By twice filtering the events of that day (from Kyung's parents to Connie, and then from Connie to Kyung), it allowed me to establish some necessary distance from the violence, and also create a more neutral quality of reportage to the details of the home invasion. This seemed in keeping with all of the characters’ personalities, and it had the added benefit of making the writing of this particular section a little less grueling. 

Q> There are multiple plot twists and character revelations, right up to the book’s conclusion. Could you describe how you approached the plotting and writing? Did you outline the main threads of the plot and each character’s behavior in advance, or did you start with characters and scenarios and let the story unfold as you wrote (or something in between)?

A> My approach to writing is fairly unstructured. I'll start with a question that I want to answer, a character I'm interested in, and maybe a couple of key plot points, but not much more than that. Then I'll draft a large number of scenes that will probably never make it into the final manuscript. In Shelter’s case, that added up to a couple hundred pages. I know that may seem like a waste of energy, but this process allowed Kyung to emerge as a person instead of a character, a creation. Once I began to hear myself say "Kyung wouldn't do that" or "Kyung would never say that," I had to revisit those early plot points and think critically about whether he’d really find himself in the situations that I’d originally imagined for him, or if he was going to lead me in some new directions. It turned out to be a little of both.

Q> Once the writing was done, what was your experience in finding a publisher? 

A> My agent set up a phone conversation with Elizabeth Bruce from Picador, who had read my manuscript and wanted to talk about it. I remember we had such an easy, engaging discussion, and at one point, Elizabeth said something that made me pump my fist in the air: “Sometimes a darker story just feels more true.” That’s when I knew she’d be the right person to help guide this book into the market. It was just that instantaneous and intuitive, so when I hung up, I thought Oh please, please, please, let her be my editor. Elizabeth ended up making a pre-empt offer on Shelter a few days later, and I'm really happy to report that my initial instincts weren’t wrong. She and her colleagues were never afraid of this novel’s darker side. They could see the light in it that I did, and that was really important to me.

Q> Were you expecting the book to be such a resounding success? Is there anything that has surprised you in post-publication reviews or in the response from the audience when you do book readings?

A> Last night, while I was working on these questions, I asked my husband if I was a pessimist or a pragmatist during the lead-up to Shelter’s publication. He laughed and refused to answer the question, which should give you a sense of how difficult I was to live with back then. I honestly expected the book to come out and fail to be noticed because lots of wonderful books have done the same for reasons that no one really understands. Of course, it was a shock when Shelter received a good amount of publicity and attention, and I'm grateful to Picador for drumming all that up on the book's behalf. I suppose the thing that surprised me most at public events was the fact that people showed up. I'd spent so much of my time writing this book in isolation, so it was a strange, almost surreal experience when total strangers came to talk about something that had been locked up in my head and my heart for such a long time.

Q> Are you working on a new novel? If yes, could you tell us something about it and what stage you are at in the writing?

A> I’m in the early stages of writing my second novel, which is set in North Dakota, the state where I grew up. I’ve always wanted to set a work of fiction in that landscape, and while the plot is still evolving, my intention is to explore themes like otherness and the American Dream, which are also present in Shelter.

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Citizen Read Program for 2018    

ArtsEmerson and American Repertory Theater invite individuals and groups from Boston, Cambridge, and beyond to join us in a dynamic project exploring the construction of race and identity in America.

Citizen Read will include facilitated conversations of Rankine's 2014 New York Times bestselling book of poetry Citizen: An American Lyric in book clubs throughout Boston and Cambridge, a public dialogue featuring Claudia Rankine and book club participants, and an opportunity to attend the world premiere of Rankine’s new play,  The White Card.

For questions, call (617) 824-3005 or email

BAC Member News

The BAC newsletter is published the first week of every month.  Please send news about your activities, speaking, and new books (along with related pictures) to by December 27 for publication in the JANUARY 2018 newsletter.            

Historian Anthony Sammarco, author of the recently published Jordan Marsh: New England’s Largest Store  will be speaking at the BPL in Copley Square on Tuesday, December 5, at 6 p.m. about Boston's holiday traditions, from the introduction of the Christmas tree in the nineteenth century to hand-bell ringing on Beacon Hill in the twentieth century.

Stephen Puleo, author of American Treasures and Dark Tide will be speaking at two January programs:

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January 16
Dark Tide
Loring Greenough House
12 South Street

Jamaica Plain MA
7:00 p.m.

(This is a ticketed event, so please contact organization in advance.)

January 25

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American Treasures
Abington (MA) Public Library
600 Gliniewicz Way

Abington MA
7:00 p.m.

Join the Club! Or Renew Your Membership Now for 2018

The BAC is planning more programs and more book awards for 2018 . We hope you will join us!

Full membership dues are $50 annually and Associate memberships are $25 annually for the calendar year. You can join and renew online by clicking here. If you would rather pay by check, please make your check out to Boston Authors Club and mail it to the following address:

Nancy Tupper Ling

Boston Authors Club
1600 Providence Highway #247
Walpole MA 02081

November 2017 News & Events


Newtonville Books on November 16 at 7PM

Three authors talk about their paths to publication and what comes next. Join us for a terrific panel led by novelist and BAC member, Erica Ferencik (The River at Night, Gallery / Scout Press) with Annie Harnett (Rabbit Cake, Tin House Books) and Kelly Ford (Cottonmouths, Skyhorse

Publishing) at Newtonville Books, Newton MA on Thursday, November 16th starting at 7:00 p.m. 

BAC Featured Author Interview: Grace Lin on Writing, Illustrating, and Which Comes First 

Grace Lin’s most recent novel When the Sea Turned to Silver won theBAC’s Julia Ward Howe award for 2016 Young Reader books and was selected as a National Book Finalist. In this month’s featured interview, Lin discusses the interplay of outlining, writing, and illustrating her work.

Q: Readers of When the Sea Turned to Silver are transported to a timeless, magical world that is compelling for all ages. Did you write it with a fixed plot in mind or did the story unfold to lead you in unexpected directions? 

Thanks! Well, I have kind of a plot when I begin. I usually have an outline with idea scenes of how the story will unroll when I begin writing. Unfortunately, once I begin writing, it usually all goes out the window and I have to rework on the fly. However, the ending stayed the same. It was the journey to get there that changed.

Q: Your illustrations are equally magical. Could you describe how the illustrations and text come together in the process of your writing? Do you write the text and then move on to the illustrations? Or do you move between illustration and text as the book evolves?

For me, I began as an illustrator. So when I have to write description, I usually just visualize what an illustration of the scene would look like and write it down. However, because it takes so long to draw and paint and because the writing can change easily, I never do the illustrations until after the writing is done. After all the writing is done, I usually pick the scenes that were most vivid to me as I imagined them and illustrate those.

Q:  When the Sea Turned to Silver has two earlier companion books, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and Starry River of the Sky. Do you have a favorite among these three?

Are there more to come?

I think I am proudest of When the Sea Turned to Silver because it was such a bear to write. I can’t believe I was able to muscle through that one! I’m not sure if there will be more to come. I have a couple ideas, but nothing very solid. I’m definitely just going to let any potential ideas just simmer and see.

Q: Could you talk about what projects and books you are working on for 2018?

I have a five-year daughter and with her, I’ve rediscovered the beauty of picture books. So, I’m returning to picture books for a little while. My next book is called A BIG MOONCAKE FOR LITTLE STAR, out in August 2018. It’s a big departure for me in terms of art style but I am excited about it. 


Publishers with 2017 titles meeting the BAC Awards Criteria are encouraged to submit their books to be considered for Julia Ward Howe prizes. To enter the competition, publishers must submit two copies of each eligible title, along with a fee of $35 dollars per title. Checks should be made out to the Boston Authors Club. Eligible authors may also submit their books directly, with the same fee.

The submission deadline for eligible books published in 2017 is January 31, 2018. Please send your books and your checks to: Boston Authors Club, Attn: Mary Cronin, 2400 Beacon Street, Unit 208, Chestnut Hill, MA. 02467

Criteria for Julia Ward Howe award eligibility include:

·       The books must be published the year prior to the award being given.

·       Authors must live or work within 100 miles of Boston the year their books are published.

·       Books published in print are eligible unless otherwise noted in the criteria. Edited books, textbooks and reference books are not eligible. Self-published and digital-only books are not eligible.

 Outstanding books that are not selected as category winners may be recognized as Finalists at the Awards program in Fall 2018, with no monetary prizes attached.

BAC Member News

The BAC newsletter is published the first week of every month.  Please send news about your activities, speaking, and new books (along with related pictures) to by November 27 for publication in the December newsletter.

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John J. Ronan, poet, playwright, movie producer, and journalist will be reading his poems at the Aeronaut Brewery 14 Tyler St., Somerville, on November 8, 6:00 - 8:00(sponsored by Porter Sq. Books)

Ronan also read from his works at the Book Shop of Beverly Farms, Beverly Farms, MA on October 12, 2017.

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Alice Hoffman, BAC Julia Ward Howe Winner in 2015, will be reading from her latest novel, The Rules of Magic, at the Brattle Theatre, 40 Brattle Street in Cambridge, MA at 6PM on November 1 

Join the Club! Or Renew Your Membership Now for 2018 

The BAC is planning more programs and more book awards for 2018 . We hope you will join us!

Full membership dues are $50 annually and Associate memberships are $25 annually for the calendar year. You can join and renew online by clicking here. If you would rather pay by check, please make your check out to Boston Authors Club and mail it to the following address:

Nancy Tupper Ling

Boston Authors Club

1600 Providence Highway #247

Walpole MA 02081

September 2017 News & Events

BAC has a new Facebook page:  

Please visit us on Facebook and share this link with friends and fellow authors

BAC Awards Event at the BPL on September 13 at 4:30PM


Please join us at the Boston Author’s Club annual Julia Ward Howe awards event on September 13, from 4:30-7:00, at the Commonwealth Salon Room of the Boston Public Library McKim Building, 700 Boylston Street, Boston.  The program includes time to socialize over refreshments, meet the honored authors, buy their books, and get a copy signed.  Each author will make brief remarks.

If you have not already responded to the Evite, please send an RSVP if you plan to attend. You are most welcome to bring a guest. Email the number and names of attendees to

The winners of this year’s Julia Ward Howe Prize are Daniel Tobin, From Nothing (Four Way Books) and Grace Lin, When the Sea Turned to Silver (Little Brown Books for Young Readers).


Finalists and Highly Recommended authors and books BAC will honor at the awards event are:


Finalists –General Readers:           

Jung Yun, Shelter (Picador)

Susan E. Maycock & Charles M. Sullivan, Building Old Cambridge (MIT Press)


Highly Recommended –General Readers:              

Nicolson Baker, Substitute (Blue Rider Press)

Chris Castellani, The Art of Perspective (Graywolf Press)

Joshua Bennett, The Sobbing School (Penguin Random House)

Paul Mariani, The Whole Harmonium (Simon & Schuster)

Dava Sobel, The Glass Universe (Viking)


Finalists –Young Readers:

Jacqueline Davies, Nothing But Trouble  (Harper Collins)

Susan Lynn Meyer, Skating with the Statue of Liberty (Delacorte Press)


Highly Recommended – Young Readers:

Heather Lang, Swimming with Sharks (Albert Whitman & Company)

Ellen Wittlinger, Local Girl Swept Away (Merit Press)

Reminder to Renew Your Membership

For anyone who has not renewed their BAC membership in 2017, it’s past the time but still not too late! To make renewal even more convenient, we now provide an option to pay your dues directly through the BAC website at:

Full membership dues are $50 annually and Associate memberships are $25 annually for the calendar year.  If you would rather pay by check, please make your check out to Boston Authors Club and mail it to the following address:

Nancy Tupper Ling

Boston Authors Club

1600 Providence Highway #247

Walpole MA 02081

Board Updates and BAC Thanks to Alan Lawson


After many years, Alan Lawson stepped down as President of the BAC this summer. He will be greatly missed by everyone. We sincerely thank him for his dedication and leadership over the years. We are pleased to announce that Mary J. Cronin has been elected by the Board as the new BAC President. We also welcome Nancy Tupper Ling and Scott Guthery to the BAC Board. For more information on our new Board members, please click HERE

BAC Member News


We are back on schedule for BAC newsletter publication the first week of every month.  Please send news about your activities, publications, and new books (along with related pictures) to by September 27 for publication in the October newsletter.


Judith Beth Cohen recently had a story published in this new online magazine that specializes in issues around disability. The story is called "Pray for Willie," and can be found at


John J. Ronan’s new book of poetry, Taking the Train of Singularity South from Midtown appeared Jan. 15. He held readings at the AWP conference in D.C. on February 9, SUNY Farmingdale, NY on March 23, Sawyer Free Library, Gloucester on April 8, at the Cornelia St. Café, NYC on May 3. Also, a play of his, The Early Bird Special, was a co-winner in the one-act category at the Fire House Festival in Newburyport and was produced January 27. 


Liza Ketchum’s YA novel about vaudeville, “The Life Fantastic,” (Merit Press) had a lovely launch party at Porter Square Books. Liza joined Karen Hesse and Eileen Christelow for a book talk and a discussion on their decades-long writer’s group on April 29th at Northshire Bookstore in Manchester, VT.


This spring, the MIT Press published Jerome Kagan’s most recent book, titled “Five Constraints in Predicting Behavior.”


Nancy Rappaport’s most recent writing project is a one-woman play, Regeneration. It was just accepted for performance in the United Solo Theatre Festival, the world's largest solo theatre festival. The performance will be on October 5th in NYC. She has other upcoming performances in the Boston area, including a free Public Health Week performance on 4/5 at the Somerville Public Library. More information, including a promotional video and performance details, is here:


Alan E. Foulds, a writer of historical books and articles, made his first foray into fiction. The March/April edition of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine made his short story, "Razor's Edge" the cover feature. With luck it's the beginning of a second direction for the author.


Tracy Miller Geary published two articles - “Tips for Writing the College Essay” (Winter Issue) and “Paying for College” (Spring Issue) - in One Magazine, a print and online magazine (

Patricia Striar Rohner had a successful book party in Huntingdon Valley, PA on May 22, where she sold 25 copies of “Tzippy the Thief,” a novel about an 80- year old Jewish widow, who is also a shoplifter, who wants to change her life in the 11th hour.


Anthony Sammarco’s new book, “Jordan Marsh: New England’s Largest Store” will be out on November 6,  2017. 






March, 2017

Welcome to our new members!  After many years, Betty Lowry is stepping down from writing our monthly newsletters, and I will be taking over the role. Although she is still a valuable member of the BAC, her dedication to the newsletter will be very missed.  To tell you a little about myself, I am a short story writer and writing editor and tutor, living in Lynnfield, MA with my family. I've just started my second year on the Reading Committee of the Julia Ward Howe Awards, and am a member of the Board of the BAC in charge of marketing.  I will do my best to keep the high level of enthusiasm and eye for detail that Betty maintained for so long in our monthly newsletters.

Since some members have not renewed their BAC dues for 2017 yet, I wanted to point out that we now have the option to pay online, directly through the website at As a reminder, membership dues are $50 per year for individuals, and are due in January for the calendar year. If you would rather pay by check, you may send it to me, at the following address:

Tracy Miller Geary

c/o The Boston Authors Club

8 Richards Road

Lynnfield, MA 01940

Please be sure to make the check out to the Boston Authors Club. Kindly include an email address and I will let you know that I have received your check. 

I hope that anyone with news about their writing and publications will reach out to me at soon so I may include you in the upcoming newsletter. I look forward to hearing from you, and to meeting many of you.

Best regards,