Agents. Qualified literary gatekeepers?

chuckmmiceli:

Brian’s insights on the role of agents is right on the money. I often find it ironic that many authors who have spent years writing must jump through multiple hoops and humbly request that less experienced agents pass judgement on their work and accept to represent them in order for the agents / publishers to make a greater percentage of the resulting profits then the author. Then, if the book is a literary masterpiece but does not have the right popular twist, it may still be rejected because it lacks income potential, at least in the eyes of the agents. It doesn’t have to be this way. It’s time for a change.

Originally posted on Indie Hero:

A few years ago, Samuel Moffie submitted The Perfect Martini to 100 literary agents. Actually, he submitted 90% of the first twenty pages of Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions disguised as The Perfect Martini. Any guesses on his success rate? 100 out of 100, right? No. Only one agent responded positively, but that’s because the agent recognized the original author. 99 agents declined. Just to be clear, yes, the critically acclaimed, award-winning, nationally revered Kurt Vonnegut. Rejected.

Agents are concerned with commercial viability, that’s first and foremost. Period. Literary quality is a secondary bonus, if present. Now, if Vonnegut wrote a novel where a dominant vampire becomes master to a naive, submissive, shape-shifting werewolf, I’m sure he would have fared better.

Here’s the point. Why spend months, or even years, writing and submitting queries to agents who are clearly looking the other way? If they passed on Kurt Vonnegut, what chance…

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MY STOP ON THE BLOG HOP!

Monday, April 14, 2014

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If you’re just getting on board, welcome to my first “Blog Hop” and many thanks to Cindy Eastman for welcoming me along for the ride. I’ve re-posted this with my picture to avoid confusion. everyone else’s picture in the blog was showing up with the title.

In a Blog Hop, each participant receives the invitation from a fellow author / blogger, shares a little about that person, posts answers to a standard set of questions, and then invites other author / bloggers to follow. It’s kind of like a chain letter for bloggers and it’s forced me to master several new blogging skills (like inserting the pictures). In keeping with the plan, here is a little about Cindy.

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Cindy Eastman

Cindy Eastman is a writer and an educator raised in Louisville, Kentucky. She attended undergraduate schools in Austin, Texas and graduate school in Springfield, Massachusetts and holds a Master’s degree in Education. She has taught students from ages 5 to 85 in subjects like poetry, English writing and computer skills.
Cindy’s writing is informed by her ability to be an observer as well as a participant in her life. With her dry sense of humor, she is able to address a variety of topical subjects and deliver an insightful analysis that’s both provocative and amusing.
Cindy’s first book, a collection of essays entitled, Flip-Flops After 50: And Other Thoughts On Aging I Remembered To Write Down will be published by She Writes Press in April 2014.You can find her online at www.cindyeastman.com or follow her on Twitter @CLEastman

Thank you for the invitation, Cindy. It’s always great to connect with readers and other writers and I appreciate the opportunity this has given me to do both. Please visit the three writers’ blogs following the Q&A and Cindy’s blog cited above. I suspect that you would also enjoy her book. She has a wonderful sense of humor and great insights on life and living.

My Answers To The Q & A Portion Of This Hop:

1. What am I working on?

I would love to say that I am working full time on writing my next book, but that’s not how the craft works, at least not for me. As Cindy noted in her blog, much of my time is also spent building and maintaining my “platform”: my presence in the literary world. No matter how well written a book may be, it is not going to sell unless people know it exists and that takes building a platform. Therefore, much of my time is spent doing book readings and signings, participating in radio, press and television interviews, garnishing reviews, working the social media, and participating in things like this Blog Hop. (Check out my “Up and Coming” posts to see the list.) Believe me, I love doing all of these things, but I also have a constant, gnawing feeling that I should be doing more writing.

To force myself to work on my next novel, I have been spending one day, and more recently, two days each week at the Bristol Senior Center. That location is one of the key settings for, Injured Angels, and whenever I am there, I try to avoid doing any other work than writing the book. For the most part, it’s working, and I am making substantial progress toward my goal of the new book being ready for debut by late summer or early fall.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

When I wrote my current novel, Amanda’s Room, I wanted to create a new story line in the paranormal genre. While I appreciate books that feature ghosts, werewolves and vampires, I wanted to write about something totally different. From the reader reactions, I am gratified that it seems I succeeded in that regard. In the book, the reader never sees or hears directly from Amanda. In fact, like one of my main characters, Bert Myers, says, we could argue that everything that happened was coincidental and Amanda never really existed at all. But thanks to the insights of my main protagonist, Katie Jarvis, we get to know Amanda as intimately as anyone else in the story. The weather also plays a central role in the story and linking the weather to a spirit’s intentional act of will creates a story as big as the weather itself, and there isn’t much bigger then that.

Beyond Amanda’s Room, thanks to my reader’s feedback, the entire Katie Jarvis series will also be genre unique. My next book is a straight literary novel, without a hint of the supernatural. Because Amanda’s Room readers have pushed to hear more about Katie, I have rewritten the next book to once again feature her. In Injured Angels, Katie, now an investigative reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times, narrates the story of her aunt’s experience after loosing her husband of more than 50 years. Then, in the final book of the Katie Jarvis series, (working title: The Atlantis Crossing) Katie returns in an action / adventure story: three completely different genres, all featuring the same lead character. If I can pull this off, it should be a noteworthy literary feat.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I never intended to write a paranormal story as my first novel. My father was a coal miner who died of the “black lung.” Inspired by his life, the first book I tried to write was a multi-generational historical novel based upon life and death in the anthracite mines of northeast Pennsylvania. After writing several hundred pages, I realized I was not ready to write that book, technically or emotionally. I started several others, including a children’s book, before I revisited a short story I had written in 2005 and developed that into the full-length novel that became Amanda’s Room.

Part of me needs to write. Many of the messages I received from my early life and education emphasized things I was not able to do, including writing, but something deep inside of me disagreed with those judgments. Each time I succeed in writing something that moves, surprises or excites people, I feel somehow vindicated. The more I delight readers, the more fulfilling I find this profession and the more complex the task the more it satisfies me, which is perhaps why I am attracted to long-form writing like novels.

4. How does my writing process work? 

Messy. My life is full, with many competing priorities that often impact my writing. I wrote the initial draft of this while sitting in a coffee shop with my wife, children and grandchildren. As I wrote, I tried to keep up with the conversation, partly present and partly absent at the same time. I finished this in my living room, with grandchildren coming and going every few minutes. In between editing snippets, I fixed two bicycles, located the bike helmets, put the second youngest in for a nap, and answered myriad questions.

When I have the energy I try to get up very early, while it’s still dark, and write in my home office. I also do well when I am on my own in places like restaurants and libraries where I can be “alone with people.” No matter where or when it is, I always do better while sipping coffee.

For shorter pieces, I just start writing and keep going till I’m finished. Then, I review and edit. At least for me, writing is rewriting. On longer works, like my novels, I’ve started using a writing tool called Scrivener. This software combines a word processor with a database, which makes outlining the book and keeping track of various elements like characters, scenes and timelines much easier.

And Now For The Next Stops On The Blog Hop:

Allow me to introduce the three author / bloggers who graciously accepted my invitation to join in this Blog Hop. Please visit their blogs and web-sites and spread the word. And thank you for allowing all of us to share a little about ourselves.

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June Hyjek 

As a MindBody Coach, Certified Hypnotherapist, Reiki Master and award-winning Author, June Hyjek offers extensive experience in helping clients manage their pain and stress, working with them to move through life’s transitions with grace and peace. She is the author of “Unexpected Grace: A Discovery of Healing through Surrender” and a meditation CD, “Moving Into Grace.”  Her book and CD offer hope, comfort and insights to help us move through the difficult times we all face in life.

Personally, June deals with debilitating complications from Scoliosis and has moved through the physical and emotional pain of seven spine surgeries, finding healing through mindbody approaches and the loving support of others.  Her personal experience provides the passion for her work and her speeches, which offer inspiration and hope for achieving and maintaining wellness.

June is a graduate of the Advanced Training Program with the Center for MindBody Medicine, and is certified with the American Alliance of Hypnotists.  She also holds certifications in traditional fitness and Pilates with the Aerobics & Fitness Association of America and Body Balance University, with specializations in chronic disease, spinal stabilization and orthopedic disabilities.

More information on June can be found on:

Website:  http://www.aplaceofgrace.net; http://www.junehyjek.com

LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/pub/june-hyjek/3/329/482

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/profile.php?id=1654751112

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Catherine Gibson

-Award winning author-Catherine Czerwinski Gibson is a Connecticut native. Author of “Through Sophie’s Eyes”, “Coach Bob & Me”,

“Sophie Discovers Synchronized Swimming” and soon to be released May 1, 2014- “What’s Your Something Special?”

Children’s books with a positive message.

All books have been inspired by people in her life. Cathy conveys that message in her thoughtful stories about children with special gifts who are accepted for their individual strengths and winning personalities.

A portion of the proceeds from each book sold is donated to the For Children With Love Foundation, which go to children’s causes.

www.forchildrenwithlove.com

 

Brian Jud -- July 2013

Brian Jud

Brian Jud is an author, book-marketing consultant, speaker, seminar leader, television host and president of Premium Book Company that sells books to non-bookstore buyers on a non-returnable, commission basis. Brian is also the Executive Director of the Association of Publishers for Special Sales (formerly SPAN).

Brian is the author of How to Make Real Money Selling Books (Without Worrying About Returns) This is the ultimate do-it-yourself guide to selling your books to non-bookstore buyers in large quantities, with no returns. He also wrote Beyond the Bookstore (a Publishers Weekly® book), a primer on non-bookstore marketing.

Brian has also written and published five titles on career transition that are distributed internationally. He is a prolific writer of articles about book publishing and marketing. He is the author of the eight e-booklets with Proven Tips for Publishing Success and the editor of the bi-weekly newsletter, Book Marketing Matters. He was the host of the television show, The Book Authority that aired for 13 years.

Brian was an adjunct lecturer of sales and marketing courses for graduate and undergraduate students at the University of Hartford and the University of Connecticut. Brian is a regular speaker on marketing topics at IBPA’s Publishing University and for publishing groups around the country. Brian has a BS degree in Marketing from the University of Cincinnati and an MBA in Marketing from Xavier University.

Reach Brian at BrianJud@bookmarketing.com or at http://www.bookmarketingworks.com

 

Amanda’s Room on Audio Book and Short Story Reading at UCONN Waterbury on April 17

1. AMANDA’S ROOM IS NOW AN AUDIO BOOK!
 
This has been a long time coming, but I hope you will agree with me that it was worth the wait. I wrote Amanda’s Room with the movie in mind and this new audio version get much closer to that reality. Thanks to the wonderful narration of Russell Jonas, listeners will experience Amanda’s Room with a greater degree of drama and intensity. Russell teaches acting and has performed in more than 40 New York stage productions. His considerable talent is evident as he expertly brings the characters and the story to life. What is perhaps most impressive is his ability to give each character their own unique voice and personality. 
 
The way audio books work now, you do not need to purchase the physical disks to listen to them. Instead, you download the MP-3 files directly into your phone, tablet or voice enabled reading device so that you can listen to them whenever and wherever you want. (Audible provides a free listening app for download).
 
The audio book for Amanda’s Room presently retails on Audible.com for $19.95 and is discounted on Amazon.com at $17.46. You can choose to purchase the audio book outright, but as I promised, here is the information on how you can get your own copy for free from either site. 
 
Audible.com offers a free 30 day trial membership program, which allows you to download Amanda’s Room at no cost as long as it is the first audio book you choose. If you continue your membership, you pay $14.95 per month which allows you to choose one new audio book each month. You are under no obligation to continue, however, and if you drop the membership within the 30 day period, you pay nothing and keep your copy of Amanda’s Room.
 
If you do choose to download Amanda’s Room and listen to it, I would very much appreciate your honest feedback on it. Obviously, I am biased, but I’ve worked hard at soliciting and carefully considering all candid feedback on both the pros and cons of my work. Otherwise, how can I hope to achieve my goal of delighting my readers.
 
2. A READING OF MY NEWEST SHORT STORY, LEFTOVERS, AT UCONN WATERBURY’S CREATIVE SUSTENANCE PROGRAM – APRIL 17.
 
Creative Sustenance is an annual program of the UCONN Waterbury campus that focuses on the creative output of UCONN students and faculty, and members of UCONN’S Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. At the same time, the program supports the local food pantries and soup kitchens through the collection of canned goods. This year, they have invited me to do a reading of my latest short story, Leftovers. (Don’t let the title fool you. Believe me, it’s nothing like what you might imagine.) 
 
The program is free and open to the public. You are only asked to bring a canned good with you which will be donated to Waterbury Interfaith Ministries. The program takes place 7 pm at the UCONN Waterbury campus building, 99 East Main Street, Waterbury, CT, Tel(203) 236-9800. The program takes place in the Multipurpose room on the first floor and there is parking adjacent to the building and in the parking garage across the street. 
 
That’s the latest from me. I hope this finds you and yours well and happy. If you stop in for my reading, or any of my author events, please say hello if you have the time.

Up and Coming – April 2014

BLOG HOP

 I have been invited to participate in a Blog Hop. This will be a first for me. Here are the details:

  • My post will go live on Monday Apr 14. I’ll give a short bio of Cindy Eastman, the person who invited me to participate, at the top of my blog. Below that I will answer the following 4 questions:

1) What am I working on?

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

3) Why do I write what I do?

4) How does my writing process work?

  • Below that I will post 3 bios/blogs of those I have invited to participate.
  • I will post my answers:

 CREATIVE SUSTENANCE

  • Tuesday, April 22, 7 pm. I have been invited to do a reading of my latest short story, Leftovers, as part of UCONN Waterbury’s Creative Sustenance program. This program is free and open to the public at the UCONN Waterbury Campus, 99 East Main Street, Waterbury, CT 06702,Tel (203) 236-9800 in the Multi-purpose room on the first floor.
  • You are asked to bring a canned good to donate to the Interfaith Ministries of Waterbury.

 NEW BRITAIN MUSEUM OF ART

  • Saturday, April 26, 10 am – 3 pm. I will be joining other Connecticut authors doing book signings at the Museum and participating in a series of presentations on writing. At 2 pm, I will be presenting on The Art of Mystery Writing illustrating techniques from “Amanda’ Room.”
  • Friends Steve and Sherri Amato asked for a copy of the flyer to post in their store window, Amato’s Toy and Hobby at 283 Main Street in New Britain. It’s a great place to find model trains, crafts, hobbies, and much more.
  • A copy of the presentations flyer is attached. Please feel free to copy and post it or pass it along to others.

MARK TWAIN HOUSE

  • April 27, 10 am – 3 pm. I am proudly joining other Connecticut authors doing book signings at the home of one of the country’s most influential and beloved authors. This is also being held in conjunction with The Mark Twain House 3rd Annual Writer’s Weekend. (If I were not involved in the book signing event and on the day before at the NBMA, I would have attended this conference myself).
  • Additional information on the conference and book signings is at: http://www.marktwainhouse.org/visitor/events_programs.php
  • Special thanks to June Hyjek for her amazing work in organizing and promoting these events (You can also here her presentation on her wonderful true-life book, Unexpected Grace, at the New Britain Museum of Art on April 26.)

 THE CONNECTICUT LIBRARY CONFERENCE

  • April 28-29. I will be attending the conference at the Crown Plaza in Cromwell CT. This is a great venue to explore ways in which librarians and writing professionals can work together to raise the quality, visibility, and professionalism of independent authors and publishers.

HITCHCOCK LAKE READER’S CLUB

  • April 30. I’ll be meeting with a group of folks who have recently finished reading Amanda’s Room to discuss the “story behind the story.” I’ll share how I chose the settings and characters, which parts of the story are fact vs. fiction, and the relationship of the weather quotes to the narrative. More importantly, I’ll share the things many readers miss: the symbolism in the book, the underlying themes, and the relationship of time and incidents.
  • I was thrilled to learn that many of the Southington High School students who are reading Amanda’s Room have commented that they are loving it and “can’t put it down.” I’ve extended the same invitation for a post-read book discussion to them.
  • If you have a group of friends who have read Amanda’s Room and would like to meet to discuss the book, contact me. I love meeting with reader’s groups.

AMANDA’S ROOM AUDIO-BOOK IS READY FOR RELEASE. ORDERING DETAILS COMING SOON

  • The final review by ACX staff is done and the audio book for Amanda’s Room is ready to go live.
  • I will follow-up very soon with information on how you can download a copy for free.

AMANDA’S ROOM E-BOOK NOW AVAILABLE WORLD-WIDE FOR EVERY E-READER

  • I have just published the third edition of Amanda’s Room on Smashwords. This has been a long and sometimes frustrating project. I finally gave in and sought outside professional help to complete the formatting requirements. My sincere thanks to the very talented team at Ebooklaunch.com for their very prompt and reasonably priced service.
  • Since Amanda’s Room was approved for Smashwords’ expanded distribution, it is now available world-wide in formats to accommodate every e-reader made. So even if you have a Sony or Kobo reader, or live in France, Germany or England, you can download a copy of Amanda’s Room from Smashwords.com.

 WORKING WITH OTHER AUTHORS

  • Peter Sparr – Peter Sparr is an artist who has spent decades painting large-scale prints of early British steamships along with biographical notes on each one. Some of his prints, which include the Titanic and a steamship of his own design named the Atlantis, measure up to four foot high by eight feet long. Peter has been in over 40 one-artist shows and has been the subject of numerous articles, but his dream has been to see his major prints displayed in a coffee-table style book. It took quite a while to decide how best to proceed but we have now initiated this project.
  •  Joan LaRose – I have know Joan for many years as a fellow church member and friend. She has advanced Parkinson’s Disease and now resides at Southington Care Center. She is also a gifted poet. I am frequently amazed at the beauty and insightfulness of her words. We have been working for the past couple months to compile, edit, and organize her work and are now in the process of putting it into her own book of poems entitled, “Journey: Poems of Love, Laughter, and Nature Along Life’s Pathway.”

 FUTURE EVENTS

  •  CAPA-U – Saturday, May 10 – I will be joining with more than a hundred other authors, publishers and agents at this annual day-long writing and publishing conference with many tracks in every specialt
    • If you are an aspiring writer and are interested in learning more about CAPA, its services, and the annual CAPA-U Conference, check out their website: Aboutcapa.com, for more information.
  • NEWTOWN ARTS FESTIVAL – September 13-14 – Newtown CT. More info. to come. 

 ADDITIONAL OUTLETS FOR AMANDA’S ROOM

 Amanda’s Room is now also available for loan from the F. N. Manross Memorial Library in Forestville, CT.

 

Warmest Regards,

Chuck Miceli

Review of Jenny’s Way by Diana K. Perkins: Literary Home Cooking

If Diana K. Perkins’, “Jenny’s Way,” were a meal, you wouldn’t see it listed on the menu of an exclusive up-scale bistro; this novel doesn’t concern itself with the lives of the rich and famous. Neither would you find it at the drive-through window of a national chain restaurant; her book is definitely not literary fast food. To me, “Jenny’s Way” feels more like a home-cooked stew sitting on the table of a working-class family.
Perkins grew up in a small eastern Connecticut town. The mills that operated in the region from the 1800s to the 1980s fueled the economic and social engines of these communities. Her love for these small mill-towns and their people is evident in this well-crafted novel. Drawing on folklore and legend, the title of Perkin’s book refers to a path that ran along the Shetucket River connecting the mill in Baltic CT to a camp just outside of town. There, Jenny and other camp women “entertained” the mill workers. As with all of the characters in her novel, Perkins neither glamorizes nor minimizes the role of these women; instead, she simply tells their story. This is a major strength of Perkins’ writing style. Through her descriptions of the day-to-day lives of her characters, we get to know each of them as realistic, multi-faceted people, whose depth lies mostly beneath the surface, not as much hidden as undiscovered.
A particularly intriguing aspect of the book to me is that Perkins chooses to tell her story from the first-person account of her main character and narrator: John E. Being a male author who writes from the perspective of my female protagonist, I know the difficulty of “getting into the skin” of the opposite sex and wondered if Perkins could do so realistically and remain consistent throughout the book. To my delight, she does this masterfully. In following John E’s development from a young boy to a grandfather and his relationships to the other people in his life, we experience with him, the beauty, history, and drama of life along the river.
Perkins’ literary stew is savory and well balanced. She serves up interesting characters and appealing settings, simmered in a well developed plot. Then she spices her story with intriguing twists and a few surprises. Those who feast on this literary home cooking should find their appetites satisfied.

Chuck Miceli, Author, Amanda’s Room