Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Count Down Day 20: Things Are Shaping Up in My Little World of Novel Promotion

It's always the hard part to shift from being a writer alone in a room having a love affair or fist fight with words, plot, characters, story to being what amounts to a snake-oil salesman in a matter of minutes.  Once a book is sold, edited, proofed, and out the door, you kind of become a one-(wo)man*-show, a busker, a hawker, a magician. It's disconcerting. That said, I have lined up at least a dozen readings for the fall and winter, have sent out my book for first-book award contests variously, have planned a couple of book launch parties in different locations that I think of as home, and have written guest blog posts and had interviews all around the World Wide Inter-webs. All this, while holding down a full-time writing job in corporate America, which has funded me to write the novel in the first place and is a good source of book buyers, as it turns out. It's all very exhausting, but it's what we strive for, isn't it, Mice?

*Younger readers: You will please excuse my clinging to gender as a worthy construct. I know that the world is changing, and I will too. I'm just a little slow.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Count Down Day 23: Literary Agencies I Have Known and Cursed

I always thought I'd find a literary agent who would be my bestie forever and ever, but, alas, it didn't work out that way. In fact, I've had a series of ephemeral literary representatives who either I fired, or who left the business for a pregnancy, a retirement, a job in another field, a jazz career, or a prompt dismissal because she really hadn't agreed to be my agent in any official way, anyway. The latter is always the most heartbreaking: you work and work on the edits the agent offers and when you can't get it just so, they drop you like a hot potato. "Sorry, I just don't know how to go any further with this," or some such. The kiss off. But, what can you do? Most of these associations were tenuous at best. None of the agents were my BFF, and none of them will probably be that to me. I do still have Secret Agent Man still on my side for the non-fiction book I am writing, but that, too, is taking a long, long time, and who knows how patient he will be with me. Very, I hope.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Count Down Day 24--A Dose of What-Have-You for My Humble Novel

Q: How many journals/markets has your writing appeared in? Over what time period?
LROD: About a dozen when I was writing my second short story collection. I wrote my first collection of stories as a book and it got published when I was in my 20s, before I had a chance to send any of them out to be published in journals or magazines. One of those did get published in an anthology, but otherwise I didn't get started sending stories out for publication until I started writing my second collection (pretty much right away). I would say the best I did was win runner up in the Mississippi Review Fiction Prize, which came with publication, and finalist in the Iowa Review Fiction Prize, which did not come with anything. I won first place in the Seattle Review Fiction Prize ($500) and got the story published in the journal of course. I have also placed stories in a bunch of online journals that are very reputable. Interestingly, the collection (of which almost every single story is published in a journal, magazine, or review) has never gotten published as a book. Everyone said, "Write a novel!" Everyone did not mention how hard writing a novel is.  So it took quite a long time, but I would say I was writing and publishing stories in the late 90s and early millennial years. I was also writing essays simultaneously, and getting those published in anthologies and magazines. I have a collection of published essays, which also has not been published as a book. I'm not complaining though. My main thing for years has been the novel, so I'm very grateful it is going to be a book in the world so soon. When I look at it now; I see that it is really quite a humble little book, and that my expectations for it were grand and grandiose and arrogant.  Life provides the humility one needs, it seems. I got a good dose of it, and none to soon.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Count Down Day 25--Why No One Comments on My Blog

"Man, you're not getting no comments...what's up with that?" was a comment I received just a few days ago. This is from someone who had not been to LROD in about 6 years, according to his count. And, yes, it is true that 6 years ago I might get a hundred and one comments on one blog post, but those were the olden days. Now, there is mostly the sound of me typing and crickets chirping under the blog roll. In a way, though, this brings web-logging back to its ontological form, which is basically a diary for the one who is logging. And so I am not dismayed that most people are Twittering and Elloing and Chatting on Apps, rather than commenting on blogs. Personally, I appreciate the quiet.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Count Down Day 26--What's The Real Deal With Me & Jacob Appel?

Jacob Appel is a prince among male writers. He is also prolific and smart and an interesting guy.  He is the second winner of the Golden Apple of Kindness, or GAK, Award here at LROD. I really have no particular deal with the fine fellow. I just noticed that every time I did not win a contest or award, he did! One day, I will sit at a bar and raise a full glass to the man; I'm pretty sure.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Count Down Day 27--My Obsession with Editor Rosemary Ahern

Q: Do you have any idea what happened to Rosemary Ahern? Has she ever contacted you about your good-natured "obsession" with her? 
A: My agent is friends with Rosemary Ahern, and when my novel was flailing last year, he and I conferred about my getting help from someone who has a publishing-view and could edit the book from that perspective. We came up with Ms. Ahern. It was a little awkward given my fantasy life about having her be my editor, but she claimed she really didn't get the whole blog thing I was doing about her.  I said it was all in good fun, and on the phone, I could hear her shrug. Not an issue.  Anyway, I paid her a bit of coinage to read my novel as it was then and to talk to me on the phone for an hour with high level notes about how to make the thing work.  She was brilliant and encouraging, and I have been in touch with her ever since via email. So, in a way, my little fantasy series (in which she coins a nickname for me as Doodles) turned out to be true, though not romantic.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Count Down: Day 28--Why I Have No MFA & Why It Doesn't Matter

Q. Have you ever considered getting an MFA? Why or why not?
LROD:  Ah...the dreaded MFA question! We have had some fun here on this topic, haven't we?  I never got an MFA. Instead I got a degree related to the kind of writing I do to make a living. A place where I worked paid for the graduate degree. My undergraduate degree, though, was in English Literature and Creative Writing. It used to be one of the few colleges with a workshop-style creative writing program, which has now been decimated by the new President of the college who is an economist and a boor. Shortly after I graduated from said college, I applied to Iowa and Brown, but got promptly rejected, so never applied anywhere else again. That just goes to show you how both arrogant and how insecure I was--a bad combination.  After my first book came out, a collection of stories, I started teaching here and there at some fine institutions as an adjunct instructor in English and in fiction writing, so I guess I never felt like not having an MFA was a deficit. I still managed to do what I wanted to do, and to gain the connections I needed by hook or by crook to get my work read. It probably would have been an easier road had I gotten accepted into one of those prestigious MFA programs, but I had to work full-time, and sadly no one was offering to pay my way or give me a nice juicy grant--those came much later. I could have gotten loans, I guess, but I'm more the nose-to-the-grindstone, earn-and save-money type of individual. (I've had jobs since I was 16 years old.)  I guess easy isn't exactly my modus operandi, anyway. So, no. No MFA.