You and your book blow my doors off.
I feel like I’m having one of those “What did you do during summer vacation?” moments – only it’s over a weekend, not three months. I know I blather on about writing cons after returning from one because it’s a constant reinforcement of how vital these things are.
My weekend in Seattle proved no different, except that my Wow index has just blown through the top. The Pacific North West Writers Association puts on one of the most amazing cons I’ve ever been to – and I’ve been to a lot. Never have I seen a more talented and prepared bunch of authors as I did at this conference. And believe me, I asked a bunch of very funky questions.
“How would you promote this book?”
“Why did you write this particular book?”
“What makes you the best person to have written this story?”
“Have you thought about turning that into nonfiction? And if not, why?”
…And on and on. And these savvy writers had the answers. Le wow.
This was one of the most intense cons I’ve ever worked as well, but the mix of authors, editors, and agents was absolutely delightful, and many of us sat together outside in the courtyard, late into the night, tossing back glasses of wine and laughing far too hard.
I say it every time, and this is no exception:
THIS IS THE ONLY TIME AGENTS AND EDITORS ARE THIS ACCESSIBLE. TAKE FULL ADVANTAGE.
You can ask us anything and everything – at any time. Well, ok, bathrooms are off limits. But if we’re rushing to an appointment, you can walk with us and pitch. Or just yik yack.
Some things that I think all authors should have on them are a business card, your first three chappies, a one page synopsis. I’m not saying we’ll necessarily ask for all of those, but I asked many authors for their cards. A couple I asked for pages right then and there. I asked for full manuscripts from five authors as well. This is very unusual to have that many requests. But they are that good.
And one particular author is so in my gunsights that I’m taking her full with me while I make another escape to the desert. I’m telling myself I deserve this bit of vacation (again) because I’m exhausted from being charming for three full days.
The point of this is to point out how vital conferences are. No, they aren’t free, but can one really put a price on networking and a possible contract offer? Or a valuable education from an agent or editor who offers feedback on their pitch or their story?
My brilliant and talented author, Adam Eisenberg, (A Different Shade of Blue) – who lives in Seattle and took me on a lovely tour of the city – quoted something that Mark Sideman told him:
“When you are telling a story you are casting a spell, letting people come and play with you in the world you have created.”
– Mark Sideman
And you know what? That is exactly what these brave authors did this past weekend, and I was absolutely charmed and humbled at the collection of talent.
Face it: Authors rock it.
So what makes a black-hearted, soulless editor happy on her birthday? Oh sure, the usual things apply – query letters that have a clear plot, authors who actually read the submission guidelines [which for some reason has been in very short supply the entire month of June], cover designs that come together easily, fabulous projects.
But there are other things, too.
Selling 5,000 units of Jan’s Story in three days is certainly a good way to drunk-punch an editor clean into Giddy Land.
Another good way to put the jam in my jelly doughnut is to see a nice huzzah in Daily Business Review for a really damn good book – The Writer’s Guide to the Courtroom – Let’s Quill All the Lawyers. Go, Donna!
And with that, I must go. The beagle has made reservations at the local pub/health spa/taco-ria. She even got the Rottweiler down the way to cover the phones. I’m wondering whether to be worried…
There have been any number of times friends of mine have played the “I’ve got the suckiest job ever,” and I never want to play because I feel the exact opposite. I have the most amazing job in the world – for me. I’ve had plenty of jobs since I sprung from a dino egg in the early Jurassic Era – mom [which sometimes made me vacillate between wondering whether God is a sadistic twerp or just really, really smart], substitute teacher, bank teller, clothes painter [which actually was a ton of fun and comes in at a close second], author [also a close second], and publisher.
The mom job isn’t likely to disappear anytime soon and the older my spawn get, the more adorable they become. In the same vein, I’ll never give up writing. But no other job has affected me more on a personal level than being a publisher because I bear witness to the depths of people’s lives that shake my soul to its most basic elements.
It’s a huge honor to read stories about how my authors’ lives have been shaped by their experiences, and there isn’t a one who doesn’t touch my heart and alter the way I view myself and my perceptions of how best to circumvent this crazy thing we call LIFE.
I know, I know, editors try to put forth the idea that we have no hearts, and what little we have is blackened and soulless. But the realities are this: my authors are the most amazing people on this planet, and I am so fortunate to be a small part of their lives. It always stops me short whenever an author thanks me for the role I play in their literary experience. My impact pales in comparison to the effect they’ve had on me.
To my beautiful authors, I say, “No…thank YOU. Thank you for your talent and the willingness to express your stories in a beautiful, touching, gripping manner than tugs at the heart and influences old and moldy thought patterns.”
I’m a better person for having known my authors and continue to be amazed at the abundant talent that crosses my desk. You take my breath away.
Truly, I have the absolute coolest job in the world. Bless ye, all good writers.
There are times when you love something and want it more than one of the beagle’s margaritas, and it slips through your fingers. I hate those times, and I have to say I’m very lucky to experience that sense of loss infrequently. But none hurt more than when I thought I lost author/cop Chris Baughman.
I. Loved. This. Story.
You may have read my post back in January where I first talked about this incredible man and his unique gifts of empathy for a forgotten element of society – hookers. As I said in my previous post, people think prostitution is a victimless crime. Well, Chris’ new book shows this is far from the truth, and the lengths he goes to to save these women are nothing short of intoxicating.
I can’t express loudly enough my happy-happy joy-joy that this lovely, gifted, amazing man, through his equally lovely agent, Verna Dreisbach, have returned to the Behler corral and signed with us. I love all my authors to bits and pieces because their talent brings tears to my eyes. Adding Chris to this lineup has me reaching for the Kleenex. And you will too when you read his gut-wrenching book – due out in 2011 – Anomaly.
Welcome to the fam, Chris. It’s an incredible honor.
I remember shoving everything off my desk – including the beagle – and yanking out the telephone cord so I could read Julie Genovese’s manuscript in peace. I didn’t move for hours because I was so gripped with her story. Nothing Short of Joy is a story about a little person with a huge story and a huge life.
What made this book so important to me is that the theme goes far beyond the life of a brave woman suffering from a rare form of dwarfism. It’s about combating our inner demons that we build up in our lives so much that we become to believe they are what define us. Julie’s book shows us that’s all a load of yak dung.
Julie was interviewed by the lovely Harris Faulkner from Fox News, and I wanted to share this wonderful interview so you can capture the infectious essence of Julie Genovese.
I’ve had the immense pleasure of reading a manuscript that gripped my innards and refused to let them go. Agent Verna Dreisbach warned me I’d get hooked, and she was right. Chris Baughman is a detective for the pandering unit in Las Vegas – meaning he takes down pimps and slams them in jail.
His manuscript is about one such case that cuts right down to the soul. Everyone says prostitution is a victimless crime. Well, let me tell you; if you read his book, you’ll know that’s just a load of crap. What this pimp did to one of his “girls” is the stuff that makes you squirm in horror that anyone could be so depraved. The reasons why women get into prostitution are many, but that doesn’t make them any less human or deserving of our humanity and empathy. They are sisters, daughters, wives, aunts. Someone, somewhere invariably loves these women, yet they’re forgotten – discarded like yesterday’s trash. Except for Detective Baughman.
Chris’ writing is so much more than a horror story. He’s a classical poet stuck in a modern-day mean-street story, and his prose is utterly gripping. He’s an enigma because you’d think he would be cynical and hardened to all the misery. But the tenderness he shows the prostitutes he serves to protect from their pimps is nothing short of unbelievable.
In fact, it’s so amazing that Chris Hansen from NBC’s To Catch A Predator is doing a show on his team because he was so taken with Baughman’s style. If you have nothing going on, please watch this show this coming Sunday at 8 p.m. on NBC and meet Detective Baughman. His story is riveting, and I hope we have the good fortune of having our logo on his book. Here are the details.
Chris, you’re a hero in my book.
Taken from Janet Reid’s blog:
Here’s the link to the full weekend schedule!
Thanks for the catch, Janet. This is what happens when my head is stuck inside a manuscript for too long. Adam has such wonderful presence, and I know viewers [and readers] will be enchanted listening to this talented writer … and judge. Way to go, Commish!
Back in August I wrote a post about falling in love with a particular manuscript and that I was infinitely fearful that my little heart would be broken – as it usually is once I get further into a manuscript.
Well, I’m giddy to report that not only did that beloved manuscript hold up, but I just got back the signed contract the other day. Everyone, meet Kim Petersen – the object of my previous post and talented author of Charting the Unknown. Kim, everyone.
Kim’s story scratches my every literary itch, and I can’t wait to launch this book to readers in 2010. Kim’s story is about choices. In a way, it reminds me of The Bucket List – a dreadful movie, but a great idea. We all make little lists for ourselves when we’re young, stupid, and achingly idealistic, right? By the time I’m 40, I’ll have scaled Mt. Whitney, lunched with yaks, and written the Great American Novel.
Some lists are better than others. Well Kim and her husband stumbled across their old list they’d made when they first got married. After some tragedy and growing malaise, Kim’s discovery of that list seemed prophetic, and they set about fulfilling those promises.
The biggie on the list was to say, “Stuff it. Let’s get out of the rat race and sail the world on our homemade boat,” aptly named Chrysalis. Now I don’t know about any of you, but that takes no small amount of guts and faith – especially when you have two kids. But they did it.
And that’s the lovely part of this book; they did exactly what so many of us dream of doing. It’s so easy to allow all the white noise to distract us from our fears and all the things that really matter. How many of us make a conscious choice to quiet the white noise and confront ourselves honestly – warts and all – and do something daring and borderline insane?
There is a lot of trust one must place in their crew and themselves when there is no visible land for eight days. This journey put Kim in touch with her biggest fears in a place where she was incapable of outrunning them. How many of us can say that? It’s painfully easy to sweep all the gunk in our lives under a carpet. But when your carpet is clear, blue ocean, it takes on a whole new level of immediacy. Reading Kim’s story was a true privilege, and I knowthat once you are able to hold this beautiful book in your hands sometime next year, you’ll be glad you took my advice and kept the Kleenex box nearby.
Kim has a wonderful website that details all the aspects of how they pulled this off for four years – without killing each other.
In the meantime, it’s into the editing quarters. Avast, matey! And, Kim? Welcome aboard. The honor is mine.
Adam Eisenberg strikes again. The Seattle Times reports that A Different Shade of Blue – a compelling story about women in uniform, told in their own voices – is staying solid at #5 on the Elliott Bay Bookstore Besteller List after snaring the #1 position several weeks ago.
- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson
- Olive Kitteridge, Elizabeth Strout
- How Soccer Explains the World, Franklin Foer
- 4. Fierce Conversations, Susan Scott
- A Different Shade of Blue, Adam Eisenberg