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Showing posts from February, 2011

Claudia Sternbach's path to publication, Chapter 5: The dreaded Kirkus review and missing Dad

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Here's the next installment in Claudia Sternbach's continuing adventure from brainstorm to bookshelf with her forthcoming book Reading Lips: A Memoir of Kisses. Click here to start at Chapter One.

I am sorry my father will never read my book. I had assumed he would live forever. As his health began to fail and there seemed to be fewer and fewer options for him, I still did not grasp the fact that he was mortal. As inconsistent as his presence in my life had always been, I couldn't imagine him not being out there somewhere. Six months have passed and I am still struck by his complete and total absence. I have spent my whole life thinking of him as having left. Of being gone. But this leaving was so profoundly different. A final chapter. Book closed. And time keeps moving forward.

Over this past half year advanced reader copies of Reading Lips have been sent out for review. I have been invited to write guest blogs on websites I had never known about. I have met, via the Inte…

Buy This Book: Peter Bognanni's wonderfully funny House of Tomorrow is fresh out in trade paperback

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I have one request for Peter Bognanni: Write another novel. Soon. I absolutely loved The House of Tomorrow when it came out in hardcover last year and made it a point to search out some of his short form work. (I hated myself for laughing at Volleyball is an Awesome Sport and Your Mother and I Are Getting a Divorce, but I read it again anyway.) The House of Tomorrow is one of the books that turned me on to one of my current favorite imprints, Putnam's Amy Einhorn Books.

From the starred review in PW:
"Sebastian Prendergast, the teenage narrator of Bognanni's funny and unique debut, lives in Iowa's first geodesic dome with his grandmother, a devout follower of futurist philosopher Buckminster R. Fuller. But when Nana has a stroke, Sebastian is thrown together with Janice and teenage Jared Whitcomb, who were touring the home when Nana was stricken. Soon, Sebastian and Jared form an unlikely bond via the great teenage tradition of punk rock, starting their own band despit…

"The King's Other Speech": Shake off the Oscarfail with a hilarious bit from McSweeney's

Lord, I love to laugh on Monday. Check out The King's Other Speech on McSweeney's Internet Tendencies...
Hello. Again. England. Sorry. About. The dramatic. Pauses. Geoffrey. Rush. Is. Staring. Into. One's. Microphone.

One year into the German onslaught, one is gratified to say that one's country is still pulling together rather onesomely. One's wife is thanked warmly by the majority of Londoners as she tiptoes through the rubble bestowing toffees upon them. A few rotters in the East End apparently took offense at that marvelous woman's finery, and caused a scene. Steady on, fellows! One doesn't pass judgment on your rags even though Lord Hawsley from the Unflappably Chipper Office says the Germans are leading on the sartorial front. (But not to worry!) One would accompany one's wife on these "appearances" only one finds the whole thing positively loathsome and demeaning. Cheering crowds are all very well for the PM but an English monarch prefer…

Ethan Coen on True Grit

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Interesting item in LA Timed Jacket Copy re the Coen brothers and how they approached Charles Portis' True Grit:
"We both saw the movie as kids when it first came out, but we don't really remember it very well, honestly," Coen said. "I read the book to my kid, out loud, a few years ago and then we started talking about taking our experience of the book and what we liked about the book and making a movie out of that. It's an unusual western story, a novel that's very funny and touching and compelling in many, many different ways."Read the rest here.

The Fabulously Naked Noggin of Margaret Baker

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If you happened to pass by a newsstand last week, you saw this attention grabbing cover art. The pristine and plugged in head of the immortal "man" belongs to Margaret H. Baker, whose head also appears on the cool cover done by Chip Kidd for my memoir, Bald in the Land of Big Hair: A True Story (HarperCollins 2001).

And there's a lot going on inside that head.


Her career has included all sorts of freaky-deaky modeling jobs - with and without wigs - movies, TV, opera, theatre, writing, and a whole lot of unique Margfabness. Her stage musical, My Life As a Bald Soprano, explores the desperate quest of a little girl who just wanted to fit in but comes to realize her shiny head is part of what makes her...shine. She's currently developing a one-woman show with HBO's Peter Bunche.

As an international spokesperson for CAP (Children's Alopecia Project), Marg reaches out to kids facing the daunting prospect of being different in a world that loves same.

Margaret d…

BtO Cheap Laugh of the Week

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What with Borders Books filing for bankruptcy and the publishing world shifting beneath our feet, I thought you all could use a cheap 15-second laugh this morning. As well as reinforcement for the fact that spelling really is still relevant!

Free from WD University: "The Borders Dilemma: What the New World Order of Bookselling Means for Writers"

Writer's Digest is hosting a free webinar to educate writers on what to expect as the dust settles around the Borders bankruptcy, what's changes shall be wrought in the industry and how authors will be effected by it.

When: Friday, February 25, 1-2:00 PM eastern
Where:GoToWebinar
Who: Jon Ackerman, Sales Director of Adams Media, formerly in sales and marketing at Candlewick Press, Simon & Schuster, and Random House. And Phil Sexton, Publisher and Community Leader of Writer's Digest.

Per the PR, they'll cover:
What changes are happening at Borders and how will they impact writers?
If you've never been published, how will this change affect your chances of getting into print?
If you're already published, how will it affect sales of your current books?
What questions should you be asking your publisher?
What can writers do to help overcome these challenges?
Q&A
Live event limited to the first 1,000 registrants, but you can sign up to receive a free recording.

C…

Claudia Lonow's hilarious bookling shows Kindle Singles "How To Not Succeed"

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Waiting for my flight to take off yesterday, I was scouting for a quick read to download on my Kindle and decided to try one of their new Kindle Singles: How To Not Succeed In Show Business By Really Trying, Claudia Lonow's shocking and hilarious...um...

I don't know what to call it. Bookling? Embryo? I laughed out loud and really loved her writing, but this isn't a book. And it's not a short story. It's a clever, funny word zygote that starts to tell a story, then lurches to an abrupt halt just when the reader has become fully engaged.

Billed as a "teeny tiny show biz memoir", How To Not Succeed... rambles a bit about her childhood, including a few mortifying anecdotes about her wannabe actor parents, then talks a little about her acting career without really saying anything, then takes us on a misadventure at a sex club. Lonow is smart and funny a la Chelsea Handler, but the truncated format and almost insights make the piece, as well written as it i…

Interview with Jill Elaine Hughes, Part Two: It's Not Just About Sex, Baby

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Today BtO welcomes back romance and erotic fiction writer Jill Elaine Hughes for the second half of her interview. On Saturday, she talked about the rise of Ebooks and how she balances her fiction and freelance writing roles; today she discusses the line between erotica and porn, and how she got started writing erotic fiction.

In one of your various writing roles, you write erotic fiction. How did you get involved in this, and what are your tips for would-be erotica writers? And I know it's an old question, but what's your take on the divide between erotica and porn?

To me, there is no divide between erotica and porn. I don’t consider porn to be “bad.” But if you want me to give a definition of what constitutes good erotic writing, it is the combination of a good storyline and complex characters who are primarily developed through their sexual selves and relationships. Too many people think writing erotica is easy because “it’s just about sex.” Nothing could be further from t…

Buy This Book: Carlos Ruiz Zafon's "The Shadow of the Wind" captures the soul of a book

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My daughter Jerusha says she knew I was going to get weepy over this passage from The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, and I do every time I return to it.
"This is a place of mystery, Daniel, a sanctuary. Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens. This place was already ancient when my father brought me here for the first time, many years ago. Perhaps as old as the city itself. Nobody knows for certain how long it has existed, or who created it. I will tell you what my father told me, though. When a library disappears, or a bookshop closes down, when a book is consigned to oblivion, those of us who know this place, its guardians, make sure that it gets here. In this place, books no longer remembered by anyone, books that are lost in time, live forever, waiting…

Borders and the Indies

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From the good folks at Shelf Awareness:
This week it seems as if every local and national media outlet has been on the lookout for independent booksellers to share their opinions on the Borders bankruptcy situation.

"It's not good overall for the book industry when such a giant chain goes down," Dana Brigham, co-owner of the Brookline Booksmith, told the Boston Herald. "There are fewer places to buy books and that's a concern (for authors and publishers)."

Added Steve Fischer, executive director of the New England Independent Booksellers Association: "While we represent independent booksellers, we are not gleeful over this news. Our hope is that some of the closed locations will be taken over by independents."

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In Santa Cruz, Calif., where the opening of Borders in 2000 just two blocks from Bookshop Santa Cruz prompted a public response that included "Books Without Borders" bumper stickers and protests, the Patch reported that the…

When the Story Chooses You

For years, I've been a proponent of the sensible, rational approach to writing, the idea of keeping your focus trained in one area, of maximizing your output by targeting proposals (if you have the track record to allow it) and not getting so attached to any particular idea that you can't let it go if it doesn't sell.

But that's not the kind of writing that swept me headlong into the love of the art. It's not the kind of commitment-phobic attitude that tossed me over its shoulder and ran away with me (carting me far from any hope of a "safe" and "sensible" career with sick days, health bennies, and a secure retirement.) And recently, I've discovered that it's not the kind of author that I always want to be.

How nice it's been, to find out that all these years later, that initial passion for a story can rekindle into mad love. How delicious it feels to open up myself when the story chooses me, and not the other way around.

Not in my u…

Sunday Morning Groove: Nina Simone "Ain't Got No...I Got Life"

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So just get over your own bad self today.

The Growth of Ebooks and Multiple Hats: 3 Questions for romance and erotica writer Jill Elaine Hughes

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Years ago, when I was at the University of Cincinnati, I had a fun job tutoring undergraduate students at the English Department writing center. While I was there, I got to know several of the other tutors, including a promising young fiction writer named Jill Hughes. I remember talking with Jill about the differences between literary and commercial fiction, and discussing some of the more literary works of Stephen King. Then I got into UH, she went to the University of Chicago, and poof! We never saw each other again--until she made a post on Sara Gruen's facebook page. I immediately sent the friend request and was quite delighted to hear how her writing had evolved throughout the years, into a hot (in more ways than one) career in romance and erotic fiction. Jill's answers for this interview were so fantastic that I'm splitting the interview into two parts. For this part, we'll address Jill's multiple writing hats and her views on ebooks, and for the next,…

Friday afternoon groove: The Decemberists "Rise to Me" at the Portland Music Festival (and how I knew Colin Meloy when)

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Long before he was the uber-hip frontman for the Decemberists, Colin Meloy was a lanky kid in one of my summer classes at Grandstreet Theatre School in Helena, Montana. That particular summer, I was struggling. (I didn't know it yet, but lymphoma was already raging through my neck and chest.) I had two weeks to put together a full-on show with my K-2nd grade students, plus a 10 minute musical with kids from 3rd-11th grade. I think Colin was fifteen or so, and the first day of rehearsal for the ten-minute musical, he was kind of surly--probably because I'd drafted him into my cast of mostly 8-to-10-year-olds. I asked him what he thought we should do, and he said, "Something other than the usual stupid little kid scene." I ceremoniously dropped my script (admittedly the usual stupid little kid scene) into the trash, and sat back as he and the other kids brainstormed a script ultimately titled "Z". He probably doesn't remember me, but I remember him as a …

3 Questions With… Diane Holmes of Pitch University (Part Two)

Yesterday's post introduced Diane Holmes, founder of Pitch University, a free website devoted to helping writers sharpen their verbal pitches. Today, she returns to elaborate on improving the content of your face-to-face presentation.

BtO: I well remember my very first pitch session, with an editor at Harlequin. Desperately nervous and, well, just plain desperate, I blundered through pitching a type of book Harlequin didn’t even publish and came perilously close to puking on the editor’s shoes in the process.

Ironically, years later, this was the same editor who bought and published my first novel (when she was working for another house and I was writing in another genre). Probably only because she failed to associate my name with that pea-green nitwit she met outside of Houston. ;)

But I digress. Third question: Aside from the problems caused by nervousness, what particular problems do you see with the actual content of writers’ pitches?

DH: Oh, you have my sympathy! And I love …

3 Questions With… Diane Holmes of Pitch University (Part One)

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A few years ago, I first met the indomitable force of nature known as Diane Holmes. Diane’s not only a writer, she’s an amazing resource-builder for all writers, and during the time I’ve known her, I’ve seen her pour countless hours into a writing group’s annual contest, single-handedly organize retreats with publishing and creativity professionals from all over the country, and most recently launch a brand-new absolutely FREE project known as Pitch University, where writers can not only learn about the art of pitching, but can also create video pitches viewed by acquiring agents. Wowza! Wish that had been around when I was looking for my first agent!


Thank you, Diane, for stopping by Boxing the Octopus to answer a few questions.

DH: It’s nice to be part of the jolly crew! Thanks for inviting me.

BtO: Writers are often called upon to put together brief descriptions in order to sell projects, something that might be done in an e-mail or query letter. What made you feel the need to focu…

Buy This Book: PICTURES OF YOU by Caroline Leavitt

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Mental anxiety can create a kind of fog and as with the real thing, you can make up almost any sort of reality from it. You can create any kind of illusion. See a thing that isn’t there or not see a thing that is. Drive yourself insane. Drive yourself straight into a horrible, head-on collision with someone else, another woman, who is in the same state of panic as you, someone who is running as hard and fast as you. This is the scenario that Caroline Leavitt begins with in her latest novel, Pictures of You. And when the horrible wrenching sounds of the accident have fallen silent, only one woman is still alive. One woman, Isabelle, and one child, nine-year-old Sam. April, Sam’s mother, is dead. Isabelle is inconsolable. She remembers driving through the fog; she remembers seeing April’s car--stopped dead in the center of the road. Wasn’t that how it happened? The police agree. There was nothing Isabelle could have done. No one knows why April stopped. Sam swears he doesn’t know. The s…

Ask the Publicist: Sharing the Best Ideas for Promoting A Book

After reading the comments and responses to Ask the Publicist, one thing became very clear -- this is a community with a wealth of eminently sensible/quirky/outrageously inventive ideas about promoting books; about what works and what doesn't.

So let's share. What have you done that's increased sales or gotten your first book off to a great start? What's been a huge waste of time or money?

Let me start with one from Allison Brennan on giveaways:

I've given away over 2,000 books since I've been published. I order extra stock from Author Author (at a steep discount), especially the first book in each trilogy. I send 3-15 books to every writers conference/readers luncheon I hear about (15 is max in a flat rate P.O. box) and I give away copies on FB and Twitter and my newsletter. Another thing I do is win two copies--one for the reader, one for a friend! Then I send to the friend. It costs a bit in postage, but I personally think the best way to find readers is…

Ask the Publicist: How Can I Get Marketing Dollars From My Publisher

How do you get a marketing and PR budget from your publisher? Does getting blood from a stone ring a bell? While publishers who believe that each book merits their best efforts still exist, they are an endangered species. So unless you are one of the very very lucky few, your "marketing" budget will consist of nothing more than a review mailing ......even if your book begins to sell.

The harsh reality for most authors is that the minute your beloved book hits pub date, you'll be tossed overboard to make room for the next author who will soon find themselves heaved over the side. Which begs the question: is there another business that routinely produces product it has no intention of marketing? Insane.

So what's an author to do? Obviously, hiring a publicist is the first option, but that's not viable for everyone nor is it a wise choice for every book. Which brings me to sharing .... and my next post. So read on.

Love/Hate Relationships and the shifting state of the biz: 3 Qs for author James Lepore

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Attorney/author James Lepore's latest novel, Blood of My Brother, is about revenge and redemption. His forthcoming Sons and Princes traps a mafia heir between two worlds. I was sensing a dichotomy theme...

James, thanks for joining us. The publishing industry has certainly been a rollercoaster ride since you got into it with your first novel, A World I Never Made. What's your take on where we go from here?
I have the feeling that 2010 will be seen as the moment of transition from the old to the new—and ever evolving—model, of book publishing. The e-reader will, I believe, from now on, be accepted as the way to receive their daily bread by readers of both fiction and non-fiction. Packaging is nice, but in the end it’s content, not packaging, that sustains a reader’s soul. Most of us have at least two or three balls in the air at one time, all the time. Reader’s will always love to read, but in today’s very hectic world (and very scary economy), I believe they will be willing to …

Literary Valentine: Open Road authors ponder the wonders of love

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Authors Dalma Heyn, Natalie Goldberg and David Richo share perspectives toward love and relationships.

Borders days were numbered long ago (Shelf Awareness translates the handwriting on the wall)

Mene, Mene, Tekel u-Pharsin: "God has numbered your days. You have been weighed and found wanting. Your kingdom is divided, given to the Medes and Persians." The handwriting on the wall at Borders was looking similarly ominous long before recent rumors (and head slapping) about their imminent bankruptcy. Today Shelf Awareness examines the last 20 years of Borders corporate culture and ponders how this giant freight train went off the rails...
The purchase of Borders by Kmart in 1992 was not so bad in and of itself, but Kmart's decision to merge Borders with Waldenbooks, which Kmart had bought in 1984, was disastrous. From computers to company culture to focuses on different types of readers, Borders and Walden were a bad fit, and hobbled each other. ...For many years, Borders, which was spun off by Kmart and went public in 1995, had several CEOs from outside the business--for some reason, two came from food retailing, notably Hickory Farms and Jewel-Osco, and hired many o…

Perry Como and the 1958 All Americans "Love Makes the World Go Round" (yeah, yeah, yeah)

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Happy Valentines Day!

Sunday quote-Churchill on Writing a Book

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“Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement; then it becomes a mistress, and then it becomes a master, and then a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster, and fling him out to the public.”
- Winston Churchill
I think I've reached the "master" point with my current secret writing project, which is waking me up at all hours and chasing me to the keyboard. But maybe that's just the secret lover phase, because I absolutely can't wait to wrap myself back in imagination's arm.

At what stage are you in your current writing process? "Dating an idea," as Joni likes to call it, or in a death match to see which of the two of your survives the process?

Don't confuse the rise of ebooks with the death of books

In a great overview of the new Kindle app, The Book is Dead, Long Live the Kindle App, Vince Font says:
I'll admit, I'm a latecomer to eReaders, and I came to their appreciation grudgingly. I'm a reader of books, and I always have been. I'm a fan of good binding... of colorful dust jackets… of awesome cover art… and I think that the smell of a freshly cracked book comes second only to the "new car smell" in the great olfactory list of aromas. So I only begrudgingly endorsed something as blasphemous as an eReader – or, in this case, an application that only serves to further strengthen the already booming eBook market...I really tried to find fault in the Kindle app, because I just figured "It's free. How good could it possibly be?" The answer, as it turns out, is: pretty darn good.He goes on to discuss the sweet price tag (free!), syncability, and general handy-dandiness of the app.

Last week over coffee, Colleen showed me how to sync my Kindle …

A little Friday Laugh: Jane Austen's Fight Club

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Funniest thing I've seen in--ever? Enjoy! And happy Friday!

Lessons from Casablanca: The magic's in the rewriting

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Last night I spent some quality time watching perhaps my all-time favorite movie, the famous 1942 flick Casablanca (picked up as a steal of a deal from Amazon) which is widely recognized as having one of the best screenplays ever.
All over again, I was blown away by the performances -- a depth of amazing talent that went far beyond Bogie, Bergman, and Claude Rains -- the unforgettable atmosphere, and so many classic lines that it seemed the script must have floated down from heaven in its pristine, perfect form.

Not so, I discovered after watching the documentary at the end. To my surprise, Casablanca was essentially written by committee, a screenplay adapted from an unproduced play called Everybody Goes to Rick's, by Murray Burnet and Joan Allison. The original script had a lot going for it, enough that it was picked up by Warner Brothers for $20,000 (the most ever, at that time, for an unproduced play) and given over to the adaption process, which was instructed to beef up th…

Buy This Book: Touch, by Alexi Zentner

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One of the more magical moments for me at AWP was meeting debut novelists Tea Obreht and Alexi Zentner. Since Lucinda wrote about the possibilities and caveats of book trailers, I thought I'd post the trailer for Zentner's novel, Touch. Stay tuned for an interview soon with Alexi, where he'll discuss the excitement booksellers have had for his book--and its trailer.

Path to Publication: Claudia Sternbach's (mis)adventure continues

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Claudia Sternbach is out of pocket this week, so I'm posting the fourth installment of her continuing adventure from brainstorm to bookshelf with her forthcoming book Reading Lips: A Memoir of Kisses. Click here to read Chapter One.

Chapter 4

It is funny thinking about all of the things that can and did happen over the past few months while waiting for the book to come out. As my friends and family began to hear about the "tell all" each had comments and/or advice. Everyone felt I should go on Oprah. And that advice was given as easily as say, you should put on a jacket if it is snowing out.

I know that to slip into my black puffy parka I just need to grab it from the hall closet and pull it on. I haven't a clue how to end up on Oprah. But I do know I wouldn't wear that fat jacket.

Many felt that the book should come out on Valentine's Day. The title, Reading Lips, a memoir of kisses, seemed to go perfectly with heart-shaped boxes of chocolates and red roses b…

Nancy Pearl's Revised 'Rule of 50'

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Nancy Pearl's Revised 'Rule of 50'"On the spur of the moment, with no particular psychological or literary theory in mind to justify it, I developed my Rule of 50: Give a book 50 pages. When you get to the bottom of Page 50, ask yourself if you're really liking the book. If you are, of course, then great, keep on reading. But if you're not, then put it down and look for another....

"This rule of 50 worked exceedingly well until I entered my own 50s. As I wended my way toward 60, and beyond, I could no longer avoid the realization that, while the reading time remaining in my life was growing shorter, the world of books that I wanted to read was, if anything, growing larger. In a flash of, if I do say so myself, brilliance, I realized that my Rule of 50 was incomplete. It needed an addendum. And here it is: When you are 51 years of age or older, subtract your age from 100, and the resulting number (which, of course, gets smaller every year) is …

Ask the Publicist: Book Trailers

Does anyone know if book trailers drive sales? Maybe. And maybe not. Some publishers now have their own You Tube channels, so it certainly is the nifty new marketing idea. My best advice -- if your publisher is footing the bill, I think a trailer is a flat out fabulous idea. If you have to produce and pay for it, I'd make certain that this is going to be the best use of your publicity dollars.

Who's had experience with a trailer and did you feel it led to book sales?

OK Go: Because overthinking is the enemy (and because Colleen will love it)

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Ask the Publicist: Making the "Connection" with Readers

Some authors are magic. They walk into a room or a studio and everyone falls in love. It's a gift. The rest of us have to work our butts off trying to find a way to connect with readers that will actually result in book sales. So here's some basic advice from a cynical middle-aged publicist:

1. Whether it's a reading, a book signing or an interview, you are there to give a performance. This does not mean turning yourself into some smarmy version of The Author, it simply means that it's not enough to just show up and rely on your considerable charms to sell books. You need an "act."

2. All good acts demand rehearsal, so road test what you're going to read from and say about your book. Use friends as a focus group, schedule a talk at the local library or bookstore. Find out what people are actually interested in -- and trust me, it's not always what you (or your publicist) thought it would be. What's the audience asking questions about and what could…

You tell me: What panels do you want to hear about from AWP?

Here are some of the panels I attended at AWP. Let me know which ones you're interested in, and I'll blog about those first. There were so many great ones, it's hard to zero in on just one.

1. Narrative Structure: The Episodic and the Epiphanic

Four writers questioned the nature of the epiphany in short stories and asked whether the postmodern movement away from truth is moving fiction more towards the episode than the revelatory moment.

2. Agents and Editors: Best Practices for Securing Your Publishing Partners

Mary Gannon, Julie Barer, Robert Lasner, Corrina Barsan, and Greg Michalson discussed their various roles within the literary market. They gave quite a bit of dos and don'ts and general counsel about how to approach publishing professionals.

3. Why Don’t They List Agents on Match.com? Demystifying the Author/Agent Relationship

Britta Coleman, Matt Bondurant, Alex Glass, Marcy Posner, Jenny Bent, and Ann Cummins used wit and humor to describe the relationshi…

AWP: Turning Pro and Cutting Through the Haze

I just got back Sunday night from the Association of Writers and Writing Programs conference in Washington, D.C. I'm still recovering from the sleep deprivation and the rush of information, but my first report is that it was a healing and transformational experience. I've been on the verge of a big life change, and the conference overwhelmingly confirmed my direction. Over and over again, my instincts were confirmed. My own panel went well, although we had only seven people in the audience (it was at 9 a.m. the morning after the big readings and parties). That could have been disheartening, but it was actually great, because it took the pressure off and gave me a chance to practice my controversial presentation. A couple of people even told me that I should publish the paper!

The biggest confirmation I had, though, was in the direction of my writing and in my imminent plans to query. I had a strange moment, sitting at a publishing panel and listening to the authors talk…

Buy This Book: UNDERWATER by Elizabeth Diamond

What happens when you lose someone precious in your childhood? And you don’t know what happened to them? Someone like a sibling, say, who was your center, the calm eye of the storm of hard feelings, fear and misery that was your family? And there’s no closure, only half-truths and secrets, the tricks of your memory. You live with this absence. Live over it. Do the best you can. In UNDERWATER, Elizabeth Diamond's second novel, Jane does this. She lives over the loss of her brother. Makes a life, marries, has a child. And with all of this she has in effect “fixed” the past. But the sore mystery of her brother’s whereabouts never leaves her; the wound his absence has left in her heart never heals. Still, Jane might have managed keeping all of what happened inside and all of herself together, if not for the accident that befalls her own child, the accident that renders her son, whom she adores, less than perfect. Now, like falling dominoes, her life comes apart.

The darker themes of …