What do Jimmy Kimmel and Amanda Adams Have in Common?

May 2, 2017
Last night, Jimmy Kimmel got serious for a change, and discussed his son’s heart disease and emergency surgery. Jimmy has put a face on the reality that faces many parents – unsung heroes – who have battled their children’s heart disease for many years. Our author, Amanda Rose Adams is one such hero…heart warrior. Her gritty, honest story grabs at the throat and doesn’t let loose – so real is this problem.

Amanda Rose Adams knows first hand what brought America’s funny man Jimmy Kimmel to tears on Monday night. She also has a son named William who had his first open heart surgery as an infant performed by Dr. Vaughn Starnes at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Her book, HEART WARRIORS: A Family Faces Congenital Heart Disease (Behler Publications, 2012) reveals what it is like for families as they wait for their newborn child to survive open heart surgery and then face future surgeries. The Adams family knows what the Kimmel family is facing with Congenital Heart Disease, and they send their love and support. Read HEART WARRIORS to understand the rough road of CHD and the bright hope that leads the way for families of Heart Warriors.

And the rub? The American Heart Association rarely allots funds to pediatric heart disease.
Amanda’s OB/GYN was blunt and suggested an abortion when they discovered Liam had only half a heart. She refused, and Liam has become a bright light in a very long, tough tunnel. Heart disease strikes millions, and many don’t know where to turn…which is why I fell in love with this book. Amanda has written a bible for what every parent, relative, and friend of someone struggling with pediatric heart disease. If you want answers, blunt conversation, and a sense of community, then HEART WARRIORS really needs to be next to your table.

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Rejection Hurts: A Cautionary Tale

April 26, 2017

I’ve just had a Wut. The. Hell? moment. Hasn’t happened in a long time, so I guess I was due. What am I talking about? The suckosity of rejection, and how authors choose to deal with it. The struggle is real, and it’s biting my butterks right now.

Lashing out over rejection. I’ve talked about it a number of times over the years. After a refreshingly long drought from nastiness, one came barreling down to the Price Batcave with enough force to roust The Rescues from their undeserved nap (after all, there is filing to be done!). Le sigh. Why, why, why do authors do this?

Here is the exchange:

Me: Thank you for writing. I’m afraid there are many, many books on ….. already on store shelves. Minus a unique hook and well-established author platform, I don’t see the qualities that make this a “gotta have it.” Best of luck to you.

This is a fairly standard rejection. It’s brief and offers my thoughts on why I rejected it, because I don’t like to leave the author wondering what elements were responsible for the rejection. When I have a hundred other queries to read, brief is my champion. Needless to say, I was shocked when the below email came blasting into my inbox:

The Author: I usually don’t bother with this kind of stuff, but really, how many of your published titles are “gotta have it” books.  How can anything you’ve said possible be of any importance to me.  If this book is not for you, then just pass on it and leave it at that.  Be an adult about it and have a little compassion for the authors who submit to you.  Seeing your titles I would think you would be a pro at turning someone down without covering your own behind.  

I am old, but what you’ve written could be devastating to a young person.

“Covering my behind”? I’m not quite sure what this even means, since I’m not obligated to justify a rejection letter. The author inquires how many of our books are “gotta have it.”

Srsly? How to answer that. Do I go for tongue-cheek?

“Well, none of them are ‘gotta have it’ books, dear author. We just publish any ol’ crud that crosses our desk.”The mind boggles.

After some thought, I decided on honest enlightenment.

Me: All of our books have “gotta have it” qualities. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have published them. My comments to you were offered as an explanation as to why it wasn’t right for us. I give these in order to help authors figure out why they’re receiving rejections, or how they may improve their query letter so as to be more successful in the future. Only in rare instances do I receive a response such as yours, because most authors want to know the reasons behind their rejections. It’s impossible for me to know who is going to take offense at constructive critique or be appreciative. But my aim for the past fourteen years has been to help authors wherever I can. Rejection hurts, but lashing out and being acutely rude to me for the shortcomings of your query letter is hardly appropriate or professional. May I offer a bit of your own advice, and act like an adult?

Considering how some editors and agents have fired back at snot-grams such as these, I felt mine was a reasonable response to someone who has an obvious aversion to rejection.

Dear Authors…we know rejection sucks stale Twinkie cream. Don’t forget, we suffer rejection as well when an agent or author decides to take the other publisher’s offer. No one is immune to the effects of, “Ah crap, lost out on that one.” But the guarantee is that the sun will continue to rise, the birds will sing, and authors will continue their search for the perfect publisher. And hopefully, there will be a love match. If not, then write something else. The trick is to remain true to your passion, and not let passion overtake your desire to punch out an editor’s lights. Because, really…it’s just plain stupid.

 

 

 

 

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Comp Titles: How to Take the Jam Out of My Jelly Doughnut

April 25, 2017

Is there anything worse than getting a doughnut that doesn’t have enough jelly? It’s one of life’s tragedies, and the struggle is real. If I order a jelly doughnut, then please make sure there’s all sorts of gloppy, oozy jelly in there. So much the better if it dribbles down my chin. Pure. Bliss.

How to take that jam outta my jelly doughtnut? Well…

Tell me that your book has no book comparisons. Continue the blight by insisting you’re breaking “new ground.” Bless your heart. Maybe you are breaking new territory, but I can assure you that someone has done it before you…to some degree…which would be a title comparison.

I don’t ask for title comps for my health. I need them when I’m talking to my sales teams, bookstores, book fairs, basically anyone with a pulse. I. Need. Them. All publishers do, in fact. It’s a part of navigating this nutty biz.

Failure to do your part in providing important info pegs you as a Noob (someone who doesn’t know what they don’t know…and doesn’t care), or plain lazy. It tells me that you aren’t in touch with your competition – and yes, Mrs. Wigglesnort, there is always competition. Worse, is that I won’t take you seriously. If you insist you have zero competition, then I have to wonder about the veracity of your manuscript. It’s a matter of dominoes, and once they start to fall, it’s hard to win the game.

Competition is tough, tough, tough in the lit world, and you’re looking for reasons to engage us, not repel us. Make sure you submit a winning jelly doughnut. Know your competition. Read your competition.

 


Noob Alert

April 24, 2017
Dear Prospective Authors,
Please, please, please refrain from sending me your cover art in your query letters. You need to spend time telling me how amazing your story is, and why I must have it. This kind of thing shows you as being a noob – someone who doesn’t know what they don’t know…and they don’t care.
I avoid noobs.

Happy Launch Day, Kristin Jarvis Adams!

April 4, 2017

Today is the magic day that THE CHICKEN WHO SAVED US is officially launched to the world. Many have actually already read this amazing story and couldn’t put it down. And with good reason. How many stories do we hear about a young man who’s autistic, and instead of adopting the usual puppy or cat, chooses an Araucana chicken to be his best friend?

But it doesn’t stop there. Andrew and Frightful had a bond that surpassed the usual channels of friendship. Frightful was Andrews mouthpiece when he was frightened of a world that was too loud, too fast, too confusing to handle. And when Andrew’s life was hanging by a string, it was Frightful who became the beacon of light for the entire family.

I’ve never laughed and cried and cheered so much during the editing process. I’ve read this manuscript a million times, and I still tear up and giggle like an idiot because, yah, that’s how charming and engaging and visual Kristin’s writing is. This is a story of heroics on so many levels that I found myself wanting to don a cape and paint a red A and F on my forehead.

Here is the press release:

A few words whispered by an autistic boy to a chicken may have ultimately saved his life.

When Kristin Adams heard her eight-year-old son, Andrew, talking to his pet chicken, it was nothing out of the ordinary. Many people with autism have a special ability to relate to animals, and Andrew and the chicken he named Frightful were best friends. But what Andrew said to his chicken one day stunned Adams.

“I think my body is trying to kill me,” he told Frightful.

That confession, from a boy to his chicken, catapulted Andrew’s family and medical community into action: To discover and destroy the unseen monster that was claiming his life—a disease so painful and obscure that his medical team had no idea how to treat it.

 This beautiful, fierce, and refreshingly honest memoir takes readers on a mother’s journey through the complex landscape of modern medicine to discover the healing bond between a boy and Frightful, the chicken who saves them all.

Autism affects 1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls, leaving a staggering number of families to navigate this mysterious inner world. Andrew’s incredible relationship with Frightful highlights the current research that demonstrates how significant the human/animal bond is in aiding children and adults with disabilities. Through the love of a chicken and the heroics of doctors worldwide, Andrew developed the will to live and a desire to fight for a life he had never known: a life without pain.

Huge congrats, Kristin. You rock.


How to Make an Editor Weep…

March 25, 2017

Writing is such a solitary endeavor that I think writers tend to forget there’s a big wide literary world out there where competition is the game we all play and excellence is the great equalizer. Some are more excellent than others – but I can assure you there’s one way to be considered part of the “less excellent” group…your grammar.

If you’re going to call yourself a professional at anything, one assumes that you’ve taken great strides to be very good at what you do, right? The art of writing is no different. Oh, I know, with the advent of self-publishing, we’ve witnessed all sorts of crimes against humanity and the English language, because now anyone can be a published author.

But in the world of stuffy editing teams, puffy sales people, grouchy accountants, and submissions committees, authors can’t get away with sounding like they’re missing a crucial element of their craft. I can hear the submissions committees now: “Pricey, how DARE you bring this before us! This author doesn’t know how to use pronouns!”

Case in point; an author has been playing coy with me for a few weeks, telling me their manuscript is the “story of a lifetime.” Yah, yah, heard this song and dance a million times. After telling the author twice that they could pound sand unless they actually provided a book proposal that gives me an idea of what the story entails, I finally received an email promising said book proposal. Hurray, thinks I.

Until they wrote this:

“I’m really excited about all the attention me and my cousin are getting in our town about…”

Oh. The agony. The cruelty. Okay, okay, this may seem like a case of, “Really, Pricey? Aren’t you getting just a bit picky?” I ‘spose. But if the author is this comfortable using improper pronouns in an email – and let’s assume they’re trying to impress me – then how great is their writing? Am I potentially facing huge amounts of time correcting every pronoun debacle, every misspelled word, and God knows whatever else? Editing is onerous enough without having to teach someone the basics of English…and I’m not sure this old-timer has it in me to try.

With schools placing less importance on grammar and composition, I fear our future writers may be doomed…and I’m facing more bottles of “Gray No More” on my locks and more dates with Jim Beam.

I’ve said it for many years, and I’ll keep on bleating it until my teeth fall out; if you’re going to take writing seriously, please learn how to write. Save an editor from mainlining good gin.

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Avoid the Cat Ass Trophy…

March 24, 2017


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