Meet the Inaugural Launch Lab

Your family and friends are trying to be supportive.

But sometimes they ask questions -- "When's the book tour?" -- that just leave you shaking your head.

And all you can do is smile and explain (for the 47th time) that things don't quite work that way in 2012.

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The book tour question always got me down.

Until last Friday.

That's when Marjan Kamali -- my colleague in the inaugural Grub Street Launch Lab -- mentioned that she, too, kept getting the question. We were sitting next to each other at P.F. Chang's, dining (and drinking) after Day 1 of the Lab. Also at the table were three other Lab participants and author Pagan Kennedy, who'd spoken earlier to the group.

As it turned out, all of us had stories to share about the book tour question.

We know, we know: #authorproblems.

But therein, thus far, lies the magic of the Lab: You're among authors. You don't need to disclaim the pitfalls of your privileged path. You don't need to explain anything. You're surrounded by understanding. In this context, pesky queries about book tours morph into in-jokes. And what once seemed like a solitary journey becomes a community concern.

You'll hear more about the Lab -- what we're learning, what we're planning -- in the weeks to come. Meanwhile, here's a sentence or two about the 15 authors in our community:

Emily Dickinson's dress plays a key role in Kathryn Burak's book.

Kathryn Burak (Emily's Dress and Other Missing Things) -- Featured in the Globe, two Sundays ago. And she's reading at Emily Dicknson's House on Nov. 18.

Susan Carlton (Love & Haight) -- How rocking is this book? It has a playlist! You can learn more about it from Susan's blog tour.

Chris Castellani (All This Talk of Love) -- The third novel from Grub Steet's artistic director, about which Claire Messud said, "[A]s moving a rendition of the losses and discoveries of old age as I have ever read."

Sarah Gerkensmeyer (What You Are Now Enjoying-- A collection of short stories, one of which features Wonder Woman. Stewart O'Nan calls Sarah "an original, a sneaky sorceress of a storyteller.”

Andrew Goldstein (The Bookie's Son-- Check out his interview on Chronicle. Andrew also has five (count 'em, five!) upcoming local appearances.

Deborah Halber (The Skeleton Crew-- Did you like The Orchid Thief and Stiff? Then get ready for Deborah's story of a sleuthing subculture.

Marjan Kamali (Together Tea-- Her agent calls this "a novel that was meant to be." Here's why.

Ron MacLean (Headlong-- Ron's third book. Why did he write a plot-driven quasi-crime novel? Let him explain.

Ilan Mochari (Zinsky the Obscure-- My debut novel, a comical bildungsroman about overcoming the world's indifference to your childhood traumas. Doing anything tonight (10/15)? Then come and watch me read at Middlesex Lounge in Cambridge.

Maria's mind map for her debut memoir, Know the Night.

Maria Mutch (Know the Night: A Memoir) -- Maria has combined the stories of her son, who has both Down's Syndrome and autism, with that of Byrd's stay in the interior of Antarctica during his second expedition, 1933-1935. She is also a master mind mapper.

M.L. Nichols (The Parent Backpack) -- The goal of M.L.'s book: to empower parents to navigate schools successfully and connect to their kid’s education in effective, meaningful ways. It's also the goal of her web site, which is a treasure trove of parental resources.

Donna Pincus (Growing Up Brave) -- Featured in the Globe magazine. Donna, a nationally recognized childhood anxiety expert, "helps parents identify and understand anxiety in their children, outlines effective and convenient parenting techniques for reducing anxiety, and shows parents how to promote bravery for long-term confidence."

Who's that at No. 6 on the fiction list (upper left)? It's Launch Lab author Rosie Sultan.

Henriette Power (The Clover House) -- Muse and the Marketplace attendees and short-story submitters know Henriette as the editor of The Drum literary magazine. This is her first novel, about a young woman discovering the secret to her mother’s wartime youth in Greece.

Barbara Ross (Blood Moon) -- An anthology of New England crime stories, from Level Best Books, which Barbara is editing and curating. Her mystery novel, The Death of an Ambitious Woman, was published in 2010.

Rosie Sultan (Helen Keller in Love) -- Boy are we proud: Rosie's novel recently reached No. 6 on the Denver bestseller list -- two spots ahead of Junot Diaz's This Is How You Lose Her. Want to learn about Helen Keller's love life? Good -- Rosie wrote about it in the Huffington Post.

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