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So many things have come to a standstill – it seems sometimes as if life itself is on hold. But crisis ignites ingenuity! When my dear friend and gifted writer Nancy told me about an initiative called “A Mighty Blaze” to help writers whose book launches are on hold, it heartened me tremendously. It was started by two novelists, Caroline Leavitt and Jenna Blum, whose book appearances were cancelled due to the health crisis.
Anyone can take part in conversations about new books on A Mighty Blaze via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram about new releases. Authors whose books have been traditionally published for adult readers and whose book tours have been canceled can also receive a planned free shout out. On Tuesdays–when most new books are released — A Mighty Blaze spotlights individual authors through elevator pitches, interviews and discussions, and group discussions along with visuals like author photos and book covers.
The whole idea quickly caught fire and was featured in a Publishers Weekly (PW) story. As the story noted, since A Mighty Blaze was launched on social media in mid-March, it has attracted more than 1,000 followers on Facebook. Authors like Jodi Picoult, Alice Hoffman, Dani Shapiro, and Anne Lamott are all helping out by promoting others. The venture also has 28 partners, including the Authors Guild.
From the PW interview: “’We’re just two writer girls trying to help our friends,” Blum said, explaining that she sympathized with writers who had spent “three, five, eight years” writing their books, and were “devastated” that they now were being denied the opportunity to “meet their readers.’”
“’Jenna came up with this line which I really love,’” Leavitt added, “’We’re two technophobe female novelists in yoga pants trying to save authors from canceled tours and indie bookstores from being shuttered and we’re doing it every Tuesday.’”
“Literary organizations and publishers, even indie bookstores, can participate by promoting A Mighty Blaze on their own social media platforms. And on April 25, A Mighty Blaze will host the Newburyport (Mass.) Literary Festival on social media with live author interviews and virtual cocktail parties.
“A Mighty Blaze intends to further involve indie bookstores by posting bookstore logos on A Mighty Blaze’s social media platforms, conducting fundraising campaigns, and branding Wednesdays as “Indie Bookstore Wednesdays” and spotlighting a different indie each week. Blum is also contemplating adding “Favorite Line Fridays” and hosting virtual cocktail parties on Friday evenings.
“’It’s so good to be connected with other authors and to feel you’re doing good,’” Blum said. “It’s like we’re holding each other’s hands,” Leavitt added, “’There’s such s sense of community; it’s exhilarating. People are sequestered but they still need books.'”
Leavitt and Blum are thinking about sustaining A Mighty Blaze on an ongoing basis as way to help their fellow authors. A creative idea, born in the midst of crisis. To find out more, go to: https://www.facebook.com/amightyblaze/ Write on!