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26. Have you been to the Boston Book fair?

Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair is a mouth-full, but the concept of this annual event is quite simple.  What is an Antiquarian Book Fair you ask? For starters, anything antiquarian is from ancient times, whether it is a relic, monument, custom or book. 

 

Every fall in Boston, enthusiastic collectors and the inquisitive-minded come together to praise the printed world by pouring over ancient books, relics and popular culture.  With over 120 exhibitors from around the world, there are many books, maps, photographs and rare prints to discover and appreciate at this fair. More than that, guests are encouraged to touch and hold these historic items.  This unique ability to touch a piece of history that otherwise would be locked behind glass in a museum is a draw for many fair-goers.  For example, previous years have featured the first printed edition of the Greek book Aristotle from 1494. 

 

The Boston Book Fair is a full weekend event in the beautiful Back Bay of Boston Massachusetts at Hynes Convention Center.  Throughout the weekend there are discussions about rare antiquities, presentations from experts on various topics and free book appraisals for collectors.  $15 covers the entire weekend or $8 will get you a single night’s historical tour.

 

Times are as follows; Friday 5pm – 9pm, Saturday noon – 7pm and Sunday noon – 5pm. You can buy your tickets online through the Eventbrite site. If you need a hotel room in Boston check  www.bostonhotels.org  for the latest deals. If you need an affordable car, rent it via CheapCarRental.net. Check the website of the the book fair for a full list of exhibitors.

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27. Backstory for Balloon Animals by Jonathan Dunne

Jonathan-Dunne-Cover-3-webI was recently asked in a podcast interview, ‘How did Balloon Animals come about?’ It was the first question and it flummoxed me and I must’ve been confused if I use the word flummox so I skirted around that question.

I have no idea how Balloon Animals came about. Writing is an organic process. I wanted to tell the interviewer ‘I just sit at my computer at the same time every day and wait…’ But I thought that might’ve sounded sarcastic but that’s how Balloon Animals came about.

For me, writing is a series of join-the-dots (instances) and eventually you have the bigger picture (plot). Characters are a different story, pardon any puns: they take my hand and lead me down streets I wouldn’t have chosen, sometimes dead ends and sometimes hands I prefer not to hold.

If the interviewer had asked me, ‘Why comic fiction?’ I would’ve told her that comic writing is where I feel comfortable. I have been publishing short stories since my early twenties (now 37) and in that time I’ve tried various genres.

The turning-point for me regarding which genre to focus on came when I submitted a thriller to a London agent and she responded by asking me, ‘Is it a thriller parody?’ How could I take myself seriously after that?

Balloon Animals is comic fiction. A 299-pg novel about the belated coming-of-age tale of a 30 year-old man who takes his mysterious grandfather’s dying breaths in a birthday balloon from Ireland to Iowa is a leap readers should make if they want something other than the tired generic novel.


Twitter @ WriterJDunne
Facebook @ jonathan.dunne.505

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28. Juliette Fay's Backstory

I Never Wanted to Be a Writer by Juliette Fay

 

Fay_Shortest hi-res coverI never wanted to be a writer. I never wanted not to be a writer, either. The question just never crossed my mind.

 

From earliest memory, I’ve made up elaborate stories in my head, but as a young person it didn’t occur to me to turn this into a career. I didn’t know any writers. And when I read books, which I did hungrily and unceasingly, I never really thought about who was plugging away to produce them.

 

Fast forward through a career in human services, marriage, children … and through fifteen years of my husband, who knew my deep love for words and storytelling, badgering me to write a book. I used to say, “Honey, we’ve got a bunch of little maniacs running around here. You write a book.”

 

By 40, I was home full time with four young kids. I felt physically exhausted and mentally flaccid. Was it mid-life crisis time? Oh, yes. Yes, it was.

 

I was desperate for something that was mine, that would jumpstart my battery-low synapses, and didn’t involve wiping anything (spills, noses, bottoms). Secretly I wanted to try writing a novel, but I couldn’t imagine even starting until the kids were older.

 

Weirdly enough, my writing career was launched by a neighbor’s book swap. I teased her that it was really a book dump, because people left far more books than they took away. Desperate to get rid of them, she said, “Here, take this one. You’re going on vacation. It’s a beach read.”

 

It was the worst book I’ve ever read. The plot was ridiculous, the dialogue was absurd, and the characters were caricatures. Fascinated by its badness, I couldn’t put it down.

 

It had an interesting premise, though, and my brain, as it often does, began to churn on how I would use it. Characters, conversations and an entirely different story arc began to bloom in my mind. The difference this time, however, was my desperation to find something that was mine alone, the relaxed pace of a family beach vacation, and the provocation of a squandered premise. It was the perfect storm I needed.

 

And so, instead of just thinking my stories as I had done all my life, I began to write this one down. And I fell in love—with my characters and their problems, but also with words that I could go back to and rearrange, expand or delete altogether if I felt like it. I was in love with the process.

 

I was very secretive about it. I didn’t want anyone to think that I thought I was smart enough to write a novel. But by the time I finished, I had shown it to three friends, one a writer and two avid readers, and they encouraged me to try and get it published.

 

Many rejections later, I did get an agent, but the novel never sold. I’m happy about that now because in retrospect it was a practice novel, and I certainly needed the practice. This didn’t deter me from continuing to write; after all, the original goal hadn’t been publication. I just loved doing it.

 

People often ask the name of the bad book that started it all. I keep the secret out of respect for the author, who put time and effort into producing it. I have a bad book of my own now, and I have no less love for it than I do for any of my other more successful novels.

 

Who knows, maybe if it had ended up on a bookstore shelf, someone would have read it and said, “Wow, this stinks. Even I can do better than that.” And another writer would have been born.

 

JulietteFay2010KDI

Juliette Fay’s first novel, Shelter Me, was a 2009 Massachusetts Book Award “Book of the Year.” Her second novel, Deep Down True, was short-listed for the Women’s Fiction award by the American Library Association. Her third, The Shortest Way Home, is due out October 30. Juliette received a bachelor’s degree from Boston College and a master’s degree from Harvard University. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and four children. 

 

Visit her at http://juliettefay.com/

“Fay is one of the best authors of women’s fiction, and her novels are not to be missed. A moving, introspective look at what it means to be family, and to be truly home.”

-Library Journal, Starred Review


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29. Veronica Kavass' Backstory for Artists in Love: From Picasso & Gilot to Christo & Jeanne-Claude, A Century of Creative and Romantic Partnerships

ArtistsInLove_coverIn 2009 I began working with Welcome Books as an oral historian on the project The Last Good War: Faces and Voices of World War II.  This, of course, is very dissimilar from the newly released Artists in Love

The connection between the two projects is my love for stories.  In a way, it is fitting that I made my way from stories about war to stories about love (only to learn that there is a great deal of love to be found in war and vice-versa). 

The idea for Artists in Love had been brewing in my editor, Katrina Fried’s, mind for some time.  I believe she was most drawn to the idea of juxtaposing works of art made by brilliant artists and noticing the way they influenced one another in that juxtaposition. 

Until the summer of 2011 (after I completed a visiting curator post at the Cheekwood Museum in my hometown), Fried waited for me to send samples of the stories I would write.  I wanted them to read like short stories--the way they take you through rooms, in and out of character’s minds, into your own vulnerabilities.  I wanted someone who had never heard of a particular artist (or artists) to learn something new about their process and lives. Lee Miller and Man Ray, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, and Alfred Stieglitz and Georgia O’Keeffe served as the first three stories. 

Veronica_kavassFrom there I was given the green light to write stories for the rest of the couples (and more) that have been included in the book, along with beautiful photographs and works of art.

For more info click here.

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30. Nancy Bilyeau's Backstory

In the Beginning…

Paperback coverI was a magazine editor who’d written a few (unsold) screenplays when I made it to the fifth floor of a West Village apartment were fiction writers met. I’d been invited to join their group, but only because they needed a minimum of four to keep going. I hadn’t written fiction since high school but the thought of trying it excited and frightened me in equal measure.

 From the very first workshop I was hooked, obsessed, determined to write a novel. Each Monday I’d trudge those stairs—no elevator in the pre-war building. It was a hard climb. Now that the fog of fantasy about writing fiction has receded and I am a published author, I realize that pushing myself to ascend to the fifth floor was actually good training! It took five years and many drafts (and other workshops) before I had a manuscript that was good enough to secure a literary agent.

 All I had was a time period when I showed up the first night. “I want to write about the 16th century,” I said to the other, rather startled, writers. (This was 2007, before The Other Boleyn Girl and Showtime’s The Tudors.) Since I adored murder mysteries, I thought I’d set one in the reign of Henry the Eighth. Then I decided to make it a thriller too. I fused all the things I loved: Tudor England, a juicy murder, a high-stakes thriller plot.

 But picking a protagonist—that took me a while. I wanted to put a woman in the center of the book, and while I didn’t want to make her a royal, I feared it would be too difficult to find reasons for an ordinary woman to be in the center of a tense, fraught situation in 1537. When I decided to try a nun—specifically, a novice of the Dominican order—that led me to some interesting places.  This was a time of tremendous upheaval, when Henry VIII made himself head of the church and imposed the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

Author photoWhat would it be like to live in an age of destruction? The more I read about it, and the more I thought about it, I became convinced that the upheaval that Sister Joanna Stafford struggled with was one that readers could relate to today. In fact, I plotted my book and developed my characters when a recession hit New York City and I watched friends lose jobs and homes. A writer friend said to me, “It’s almost like you dealt with disintegration by writing about dissolution.”

 Hmmmm. I think she may be right.

 

You can reach Nancy at www.nancybilyeau.com 

 

 

 

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31. Keith Raffel's Backstory

The Back Story of A Fine and Dangerous Season by Keith Raffel

FDS6-finalWho knew that future president John F. Kennedy had spent the fall quarter of 1940 at Stanford Business School in my hometown of Palo Alto, California? Well, once I found that out, my historical thriller A Fine and Dangerous Season was the inevitable result.

First, I asked myself the two-word question that all thriller authors ask: “What if?” What if during his time at Stanford, JFK becomes fast friends with someone from a completely different background who is Jewish, not Catholic, San Franciscan rather than Bostonian, with a famous left-wing father, not a buccaneering capitalist one? And what if JFK and this fictitious character, Nate Michaels, have a falling out? And then what if JFK needs this guy’s help 22 years later during the Cuban Missile Crisis?

Research was next.  I wanted the book to feel real. As a first step, I drove by 624 Mayfield on the Stanford campus where Kennedy lived in a guest house that he rented for $60 per month. The house is long gone, but it did get my imagination’s tachometer up into the red zone. 

At the Palo Alto Library, I found old menus from JFK’s favorite hangout, L’Omelette. The prices seemed reasonable enough--a quarter for a martini and six bits for a French lamb chop dinner! Back at the Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston, I found a teasing and witty letter from Kennedy’s Stanford girlfriend Flip Price, who chided, “You wouldn’t exactly win a prize for the world’s best correspondent.”

Doing the research on the Cuban Missile Crisis itself was much easier than the work I did on Stanford in 1940. Few modern events have been more scrutinized by historians. With a preference for primary sources, I relied on the book The Kennedy Tapes: Inside the White House During the Cuban Missile Crisis, some 500 pages of word-for-word transcriptions of administration deliberations. The only change I made is to place Nate in the room sitting just behind JFK.

KR at beach with sunglassesThe magic of writing A Fine and Dangerous Season transported me right back to Palo Alto in 1940 and the White House in 1962. Even today, when driving down El Camino Real in Palo Alto, I pass the corner where the old L’Omelette stood and see a hazy outline of John F. Kennedy at the bar surrounded by a passel of admiring women.

Visit Keith at http://keithraffel.com/content/index.asp

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32. Is It Time Yet? How Publishers Can Help Authors

Wha are ten things you think should happen that could improve it?

Here's  a great article by Jane Friendman about the future and the present in publishing.  She's got some wonderful ideas here aobut how publishers could help authors and be better partners.

It's a blue sky article - it would take some radical thinking but she's talking about things a lot of us have been asking for- for years. Maybe if more and more of us ask and write about changes that we'd like to see  - someone will listen. 

If I could just pick two ways publishers could help authors starting this year:

1. publishers help authors steer clear of shysters – I can’t tell you how many times a week an author contacts me via AuthorBuzz.com who has spent untold thousands on pr or marketing that never showed up – just never appeared!

 PR and marketing don’t always move the needle but it needs to show up – if someone buys a service it should be a legitimate one that has at least a chance – not a $5000 video that is dumped into YouTube or a PR service that faxes 10,000 releases into the ether.

2. Publishers help authors cross promote with each other - don't keep us separate. If you have a dozen suspense authors help us to help each other. There are so many ways we could do that. Sharing posts on blogs/facebook is just one. Make all our books available to each other - let me read the house's other authors - maybe I'll invite them to blog here -maybe they will tweet about me. We all know a reader telling a reader about a book they love is way more powerful than an author touting his or her own horn.

Smaller cover

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33. 11 Things Not To Do Before Your Book Launch

Sometimes what you mustn't do is just as just as important as what you must do.

I've had a dozen novels published and have made far more than a dozen mistakes. Which is why Randy Susan Meyers and I wrote a guidebook to help authors avoid making our mistakes. This list contains just a few my "must nots" inspired by the much longer list of "must dos" from What To Do Before Your Book Launch that just launched last week.

What To Do front cover (1)1. Don't assume everyone will wake up the day your book comes out and rush out to buy it . (No one can buy a book they have never heard of.)

2. Don't spend more than 10% of your marketing/pr budget on a trailer. Trailers have to be marketed too. So far too many authors wind up marketing their trailers instead of their books.

3. Don't spend more than 10% of your marketing/PR budget on your website -- people only find your website after they hear about the book and no one goes looking for a book that no one has ever heard of.

4. Don't plan readings for bookstores that include you reading all 20 pages of the first chapter unless you're a stand up comic and there is only one joke on each page.

5. Don't be in awe of your own talent, book, brilliance, success or transcendental prose. It's better to have someone other than you, the author, praise the book.

6. Don't spend all your money hiring a PR or marketing firm that no one you have ever heard of has used. Equally don't hire firms that don't specialize in books.

7. Don't do a crazy expensive contest giving away something like an iPad -- thousands of people will enter the contest to win the iPad -- but not be incentivized in any way to buy the book. In fact most will only take notice of the words "iPad" and not even register title of your book.

8. Don't expect all your writer friends whose books you have not read and not praised, to read yours and praise it.

9. Don't use your advance to buy an antique sports car, diamonds by the yard or a bottle of wine from Thomas Jefferson's cellar instead of investing in your book.

10. Don't put the "buy the book" links on an inside page of your website where no one can see them or hide them in a corner -- it should never take more than 2 seconds for someone to figure out how to buy your book. It is not crass to make it clear how to buy the book that no one has ever heard of before and that you are trying to sell.

11. Don't drop into your local bookstore and yell at the booksellers because there aren't twenty copies of your book on the front table.

As Randy's grandmother always said, it's easier to be nice. My grandmother wasn't nice so she never had anything nice to say.

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34. Backstory: Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen by Mary Sharratt

Backstory: Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen by Mary Sharratt 


IIluminations1For twelve years I lived in Germany where Benedictine abbess, composer, polymath, and powerfrau Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) has long been enshrined as a cultural icon, admired by both secular and spiritual people. In her homeland, Hildegard’s cult as a “popular” saint long predated her belated canonization in May 2012 and her elevation to Doctor of the Church in October 2012.

I was particularly struck by the pathos of Hildegard’s story. The youngest of ten children, she was offered to the Church at the age of eight. She reported having luminous visions since earliest childhood, so perhaps her parents didn’t know what else to do with her.

According to Guibert of Gembloux’s Vita Sanctae Hildegardis, she was bricked into an anchorage with her mentor, the fourteen-year-old Jutta von Sponheim, and possibly one other young girl. Guibert describes the anchorage in the bleakest terms, using words like “mausoleum” and “prison,” and writes how these girls died to the world to be buried with Christ. As an adult, Hildegard strongly condemned the practice of offering child oblates to monastic life, but as a child she had absolutely no say in the matter. The anchorage was situated in Disibodenberg, a community of monks. What must it have been like to be among a tiny minority of young girls surrounded by adult men?

Hildegard spent thirty years interred in her prison, her release only coming with Jutta’s death. At the age of forty-two, she underwent a dramatic transformation, from a life of silence and submission to answering the divine call to speak and write about her visions she had kept secret all those years. New author photo 1

In the 12th century, it was a radical thing for a nun to set quill to paper and write about weighty theological matters. Her abbot panicked and had her examined for heresy. Yet miraculously this “poor weak figure of a woman,” as Hildegard called herself, triumphed against all odds to become the greatest voice of her age.   

 

Visit Mary at  www.marysharratt.com

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35. 11 THINGS NOT TO DO BEFORE YOUR BOOK LAUNCH


What To Do front cover (1)11 Things Not To Do Before Your Book Launch at HuffPo to celebrate the launch of What To Do Before your Book Launch

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36. What To Do Before Your Book Launch

What to expect when you’re expecting your book? What’s going to happen first, and second, and third?   What To Do front cover (1)

Randy Susan Meyers (a wonderful novelist and amazing friend) and I have written a book. Every thing we've learned - most of it the hard way.

MostshockedI've had twelve fiction book launches. I have made terrible terrible mistakes with every one. 

My big takeaway after all these years is I need clones!

Short of that - I need a "to do" list.

So this book is our to-do list. Plus some other helpful (hopefully) advice and cuationary tales.

As Randy says about her first launch: "For the secrets of debuting, I turned to the underground, where surreptitious bands of debut novelists come together in the shadows to share the secrets they’ve learned from already published brethren. I found sister-wives (and husbands) – 99% of us scared of asking too many questions of our frightening publisher-husbands. (What if they snatch away the opportunity! Only print four books! Don’t like us!!!)"

That’s what drove us as to to write the guidebook

We saw that while there were tons of great books on publicity, marketing, ‘how to’s’ on everything from getting an agent to publishing without one, there was a missing piece: what to do when you actually catch the gold ring of a publishing contract?

GlassesgirlbookWe felt the need for a guide for authors, covering everything from working with your publisher, to reading in public, to help for publicity and marketing, to using (and misusing) social media, to how to dress for your author photo . . . and far more, including cautionary tales, worksheets, timelines and even. . .

Here are some excerpts:

Manners & Etiquette for Writers (from a chapter Randy wrote in  What to Do Before your Book Launch:)

 1) I am certain there are a number of snappish authors who advocate that dogs-should-eat-dogs, who have managed to hit every bestseller list, but I believe in nice. I recommend that ‘nice’ (which, by the way, is entirely unlike being a doormat) color your launch.

 2) Get into training now. Answer your mail. All of it. When you receive a compliment, say thank you. (I remember getting When a reader complains that you are biased, don’t rant at your accuser (especially in public!). Ignore them or try to answer thoughtfully. I sent one such email to an angry woman who’d written to me because she thought I’d been disrespectful at one point in my book, and received a more rational answer. We actually found some common ground.

 3) Don’t be self-important. I’ve read postings by debut authors complaining about the letters they receive. God, I can’t believe what these people write to me. They want me to send a book! They want a signature! They want me to speak to their class!!

 Perhaps this public complaining is a way of showing off how Very Important one has become. Or perhaps they really are stretched to the limit. Too bad. Every job has its down side, but do you want your doctor to write about how disgusting she found your rash?

Queen of Hearts Baby4 We’ve written books—we haven’t become queens and kings of the world.

 4) Don’t grumble in public. Especially in print. Never online. And never about your fellow writers. (Unless you are looking to build a reputation contingent on your cruel wit. Some do. This is not recommended for the average sarcastic person—be certain you are at a comfortable doctorate level of nasty and anti-social enough to pull this off this snarky persona.) 

And when using social media:

1. Don’t be mysterious (Something wonderful is going to happen to me, but I can’t say what!) It is aggravating, annoying, and implies that you think yourself so important that others will stay awake wondering about you.

2. Use exclamation points AND CAPITAL LETTERS judiciously!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

3. Don’t post anything ugly about other people—this includes personal rants and unflattering party photos.

4. Don’t send group blasts or group direst messages for events or anything else unless it’s a warning that the world is ending and you’re the only one who knows. If you want people to take the time to come to an event, buy your book, or spread the word, take the time to tailor your message. Otherwise, simply post your events, etc on your FB page or send out a regular tweet.

 

What To Do front cover (1)What to do Before Your Book Launch is the new invaluable tool for writers. There is so much to know and now it’s all in one place.”  –Julie Klam, New York Times bestselling author of You Had Me at Woof

“M.J. Rose and Randy Susan Meyers are two pros who have been in the publishing trenches, and their guide, What to do Before Your Book Launch, is the best kind of boot camp trainer: purposeful, no-nonsense, and withyou along the way, making sure you hit all the right moves.” –Dan Lazar, literary agent at Writers House


"This book is chock-full of great advice for writers—it's now required reading for all of my clients!"
—Jenny Bent, literary agent at Bent Agency

"What To Do Before Your Book Launch is both brilliant and indispensable. All authors should have it by their bedside. They should read it again, and again, and again." —Joshua Henkin, author of The World Without You

Laura Zigman's XtraNormal trailer for What To Do Before Your Book Launch. Watch here.

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37. Backstory From Therese Walsh

Note from M.J. - I'm moving the Backstory blog that I've had since 2006, here. On Friday's BB&H will be a place where  authors share the secrets, truths, logical and illogical moments that sparked their fiction or memoirs. Today I have a special backstory - since this is a book I've read and loved!   

Bookcover2A Sweet, No-Bake Tale of Success by Therese Walsh.

You are a lover of words. One day, you will write a book.

That fortune, cracked free of a cookie after eating my favorite Chinese meal of chicken and broccoli (extra spicy), resonated with me. I did love words. I did want to write a book. In fact, I’d been writing children’s picture book manuscripts for over a year. I wasn’t choosing the right sort of words for children’s books, though—words like “Go, dog. Go.” I liked words that filled a mouth with multiple syllables and a mind with interesting possibilities—words like unbounded and asymmetry and cryptophasia and hallucination.

So, with the fortune cookie slip before me, I began writing a novel for adults. The year: 2002. I intended it to be a romance, because I had a friend who loved the genre. But the story wanted to grow beyond the traditional bounds of romance; there were twin sisters here with something to say—about a tragedy and music and misunderstandings—not to mention a Javanese artifact, an antique dagger called a keris, bent on having a starring role.

Two years later, after hacking 40,000 words off the manuscript and polishing the surviving sentences, I queried agents, still not 100% sure of what I’d written. Turns out, I wasn’t alone.

“The premise of your book is compelling and the writing evocative,” one agent wrote in her rejection letter, “but the tone and set-up make this novel a bit difficult to categorize.”

“The scope of your novel is too broad for a contemporary romance,” said another.

Agent Deidre Knight took the time to explain why the manuscript would be a difficult sell: While the love story drove the plot, the relationship between the sisters provided the most intense emotional moments. “My gut tells me you probably have a part of you that either wants to write women’s fic, or that ultimately *will* write women’s fic,” she said. “My gut tells me you need to write something bigger than romance.”

This? Depressing. I’d worked on the story for so long, making time for it while mothering my two children and between nonfiction jobs (I’d been a freelance health writer). I’d given up sleep. Given up television. My fortune cookie slip hadn’t predicted failure.

I tried to work on something new, but the desire to do my already rejected story justice gnawed at me. Eventually, I committed to a rewrite. I tucked the first incarnation of the tale into a box, and focused on the twins, looking for more. What hadn’t these characters already revealed to me? I cast off my developed notions about who they were, what they wanted, even whose story needed to be told. I decided to interweave narratives to better explore Maeve and Moira Leahy’s unique, magical relationship. I added new characters, left old ones to molder on the cutting-room floor. I turned the plot on its ear. I studied my craft.

Three years and several gray hairs later, I finished writing my 400-page manuscript for the second time and editing it for the 100th. There was still a love story there, along with elements from other genres—mystery, suspense, even mythical realism. But this time when I submitted it, I knew it belonged in the emotionally honest genre that is women’s fiction. Luckily for me, an important someone agreed; Elisabeth Weed became my agent, and sold my story to Shaye Areheart Books, an imprint of Random House, in a two-book deal.

After seven years, this word lover’s “one day” has finally arrived; I have written a book.

I credit the fortune cookie.

6a00d8341cbed153ef0115703a1fee970c-120wiTo learn more about Therese, please visit her website here.

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38. Social Media Fame and Fortune

From unknown to famous via Social Media. Does the NYT think we don't know this yet? But the examples are worth reading. 

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39. The 2 Second Rule

ImagesHow long does it take someone to see your buy the book buttons on your website - or your authors?

It should take no longer than 4 seconds.  It's not pushy. It's not ballsy. It's just smart. Really.

I've been arguing with authors about this for years. For some reason they think its tacky. And this week it came up again at the Digital Book World confrence (That's Bob Mayer's reacap of the 1st day of the con.)

Again people seemed surprised it should take that short a period of time.  

It should. 

People are all busy. We give up fast. If you have a potential reader interested you want to hook her quick. While she's looking for a way to buy her phone could ring. Don't lose her!

Don't hide the buy the book links or make them artfully subtle -  having them front and center and easy to see is not crass. 

My favorite saying is "no one can buy your book if they've never heard of it" and you might add "and if they can't find it."

I did the 2 second spot the buy link test with a group of 50 writers recently and only 10% passed. Do this with your site - ask some people to look at it and find the buy the book buttons. Time them. Then do a little redesigning. Getting sales is not being too ballsy. 

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40. Hand Yelling: A Place of Secrets

Portrait+of+jennie+9Have you ever read Robert Nathan? He wrote one of my all time favorite books - A Portrait of Jenny - which was also a wonderful movie starting Joseph Cotton and Jennifer Jones.

I have read as many of Natha's books as I can get since many of them are out of print. But recently I heard, much to my delight, they are all going to be available in ebooks. More about that when it happens.

What I love about Nathan is how real his fantasy's are. How utterly believable. 

 

 

ImagesA Place of Secrets by Rachel Hore reminds me of Nathan's work  - magical but utterly believable.

The kind of book you sink into and get lost in. A gothic fantasy. Suspenseful. Magical and heart warming plus a lot of terrific history and sense of place. 

The synopsis reads: The night before it all begins, Jude has the same nightmare that haunted her as a child: running through a dark forest, crying for her mother. Now her six-year-old niece, Summer, is having the same dream, and Jude is frightened for her. 


A successful auctioneer, Jude is struggling to come to terms with the death of her husband. When she's asked to value a collection of scientific instruments and manuscripts belonging to Anthony Wickham, a lonely eighteenth-century astronomer, she leaps at the chance to escape London for the untamed beauty of Norfolk, where she grew up. As Jude untangles Wickham's tragic story, she discovers threatening links to the present

 

(For those of you new to the blog. Hand selling is what booksellers do. I don't have a store. Just this blog. So when I love a book I hand yell it:)

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41. The Scent of A Book

PaperpassionThe What does a book smell like? Its the kind of question that raises more questions.

Karl Lagerfeld just launched a new perfume with Wallpaper and Steidl inspired by the scent of paper. 

 

“The smell of a freshly printed book is the best smell in the world.” Karl Lagerfeld said about the scent. 
A perfume blogger I read, Octavian Coifan, posted about the new scent at his 1000 fragrances. Coifan said that to really smell a book you need to go to an old library. 
"The scent is for the booklover the key to an unknown world. Paper from different historic periods, book
covers made of leather, the ink once scented, the dust or sand of time, the wooden shelves, the decay and
moisture,  and even the perfumes of those characters when they become real during the night."
In the  XIXth century French binders used  Russian leather and added perfumes to the  inks to protect the
book from  insects.
In the XVIIIth century love letters were scented.  
Chinese inks and the huge imperial seals imparted scents from the  cinnamon or sandalwood boxes they were kept in.
"Paper has a love affair with resins  - it's a tiny woody membrane transformed through a process. An old book
with thick paper is like a collection of uncut scent strips. This scent is not the phisycal drop from a crystal
bottle, but the scent of words because metaphors are to a book what a perfume is to a plant - its soul."

 

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42. 2004 to 2012

Open-doorWhen I stated this blog 8 years ago, almost to the day, it was the first blog at Publisher's Marketplace. My goal was to create a place authors and agents and publishers and pr people and website designers and everyone else in the biz could read about and write about what gets buzz.

What works. Why. What doesn’t. Why. What is a waste of time. Of space. What reads like hype. What takes balls but is worth it.

We're making ourselves visible in a way that we haven't been able to do before and we need to be cognizant of the pitfalls as well as the perks.

We need a dialog – a way to share with each other ideas. To brainstorm. With more books being published than ever,new ways to discover them is more important than ever.

I thought Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest would take over from blogs - and in a lot of ways they have but they have limiations we don't have here so I'm going to  open the doors to this blog again. And invite anyone with an idea to discuss.

Let’s talk.

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43. Looking for Answers

Images-1There are a lot of people debating the pros and cons of the DOJ suit.

That’s not what this post is.

I have a question that has come out of what I’ve been reading on other sites, blogs and articles and would like to ask it here and open up the floor for comments because I am really confused about this one issue and feel like I'm missing something.

 I both self publish and traditionally publish.

 But for the purposes of this post I’m speaking here as a self published author only!

 Many self published authors are saying the Agency model is not in the interest of authors but rather supports publishers and the old system.

 But for me the Agency model has been a huge boon to my self published sales.

 I’ve been able to put my self-publisheid novels up for sale for whatever price I want – and I’ve mostly used $3.99 as well as have done special introductory offers at 99c and free.

 All my prices are far below what traditionally published books cost.  (Including my own btw.)

Many many readers, who won’t pay the price of agency model books and price shop only,  have bought my self pubbed books. (Over 50,000 of them have sold in less than a 8 months which has been terrific.) And I’m sure I am hardly the only author who has benefited by being able to price my self published books below the cost of traditionally published books.

 So my questions is -  if the Agency model goes away won’t self publihsed authors books be at a disadvantage? Won’t self published authors lose?  Can someone please explain to me how the eradication of the Agency model benefits all authors – self and trad published.

 

 

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44. Win a book and the fragrance it inspired!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Book of Lost Fragrances by M.J. Rose

The Book of Lost Fragrances

by M.J. Rose

Giveaway ends February 29, 2012.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

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45. Sales Appeal

It’s taken me a long time to understand something about why some books sell and others don’t. 

 It’s taken me having written novels and marketed more than 1200 others via AuthorBuzz.com.

Sales don’t always have anything to do with good or brilliant or original.

Sales are about appeal. 

The marketability, the success of a book, ultimately rests with whether or not people will find the concept/characters/title/cover appealing.

What’s appealing?

It’s in the eye of the beholder, but readers know it when they see it. And we see the results.

Bridges of Madison County, The Da Vinci Code, The Help and Sarah’s Key have very little in common with each other. But they all had that certain indefinable something that appealed to readers.

Nora Roberts, Stephen King, Lee Child and George R. Martin write wildly different books. Their writing, plotting and styles little or nothing in common.  But they all write books /characters that readers find appealing.

It’s helped many writers I know… writers who sweat every word… who write truly magnificent books… when I explain this seemingly simple idea.  

You can write the best book you can and that might still not be enough. Appeal isn’t something that most writers can’t strive for or identify. It 's something even the best agents and editors can’t always identify. 

So beat yourself up over a whole lot of other things, but don’t assume that because you book didn’t take of it wasn’t good. Or even brilliant. It might just not have been appealing enough.

 

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46. Get Ready to Read in Paris at this Year’s Salon du Livre 2012

A guest post about  Salon de Livre 2012

In Paris the written word rules. Books have always held a place in the heart of Parisians, with many writers from near and far calling Paris their home. Expats such as Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein have resided here, and their legacy is celebrated year after year at the Salon du Livre.

The Salon du Livre 2012 is considered one of the top cultural events in Europe, held this year from March 16th through 19th. There is anticipation that those who attend this once a year event will discover a premier marketplace for all those in the book industry. 

Open to the general public, it also brings together publishers and booksellers with more than 250 conferences. Salon du Livre 2012 will introduce new works with book signing from sought-after authors from France and the international community.

Audiovisuals will also be made available, including a documentary film that shows how the written word transposes to the cinema, reinforcing the strong bonds existing between the two.


Each year a theme is emphasized to make the book fair event memorable. This year, a special exhibit will be dedicated to the Japanese verse. Approximately thirty Japanese authors consisting of novelists, mystery writers, children’s books, and poetry will be highlighted and available for seminars.


A tradition continues at the Salon du Livre 2012. One city is highlighted as the guest of honor and this year’s event has chosen Moscow. 10 authors will hold a dialogue with the viewing public by sharing their personal inspirations gathered from their city.

Planning a Visit:

Address of venue: Porte de Versailles – Pavillon 1 - Boulevard Victor, Paris 15ème

 

Secure accommodations either near the Salon du Livre 2012 or anywhere else in Paris by visiting parishotels.net. 

To visit the Salon du Livre 2012 Paris Book Festival via public transportation by:

 

Subway: Board the number 12 to Porte de Versailles or number 8 to Balard

Tramway: Embark lines T2 & T3 to Porte de Versailles

Bus: Take 39 – 80 to station Porte de Versailles

 

 

 

 

 

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47. Guest Post: Celebrate the Written Word at the Upcoming Los Angeles Times Festival of Books

Los Angeles is many things to many people but seems to carry a torch with the written word. For the 17th year in conjunction with the Los Angeles Times, the occasion is simply titled as the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books to be held at the University of Southern California (USC).

The complete schedule has yet to be released, but promises to be just as exciting as 2011. 1,140,000 people turned out to celebrate the sounds of text hosted by more than 200 international exhibitors and authors. 

The annual literary gathering is open to the public and considered one of the country’s largest outdoor book fairs. This year’s event is organized by returning sponsor Target Stores. They donated four thousand books to a donation station last year to benefit classrooms and libraries.

Prior to the event’s date of April 21st to 22nd, the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes is scheduled for April 20, 2012. The honors bestowed will be given out at USC’s Bovard Auditorium.  Finalists and winners have been preselected by a three writer board with experience in the chosen genre they are judging.

The coveted Robert Kirsch Lifetime Achievement Award will go to Rudolfo Anaya, author of such books as “Bless Me, Ultima” and “The Man Who Could Fly and Other Stories,”

The late Robert Kirsch, the man behind the award ceremony, worked for year at the LA Times as the newspaper’s book critic. In addition to his critiques, Kirsch was a novelist, editor and teacher.

Come face to face with hundreds of authors on numerous panels that are planned to take place. 2011 was the first time that USC was used as the venue. The large campus proved to be a rousing success by waving in a sea of students and visitors.

Attending the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books is free of charge.

Planning a trip:

Secure accommodations for Los Angeles and be near to the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books by visiting LosAngeleshotels.org.

Location of venue: The USC is at the intersection of Exposition Blvd and S Figueroa St, Los Angeles  

To visit the LA Book Festival, use any of the following:

Shuttle Bus: Target provides free shuttles that will run continuously. Known as the Bullseye Bus, it will run between Union Station, Los Angeles Convention Center and USC.   

By Metro: The Red, Purple, Gold lines stop at Union Station. Take the free Bullseye Bus to USC.

The Blue Line heads to the Pico/Convention Center stop. Pick up the Bullseye Bus there.

By Dash: The DASH “F” line reaches the USC campus.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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48. The Book of Lost Fragrances: A Novel of Suspense

Cover art lost fragrances

The Book of Lost Fragrances is out today and I do hope you'll buy a copy.

Publisher’s Weekly named it one of spring's 10 best suspense books and called it a “deliciously sensual novel of paranormal suspense.”

 It’s an Indie Next Pick for March. A Starbucks Book Club pick and a Pulpwood Queens pick for this summer.

Heres' what some early reviews and readers have said... and here's a link to buy the book at the store of your choice.

 

"The historical data and the liberal sprinkling of invented historical detail mesh together like an ancient puzzle with the modern and real current world events.Rose has entered another realm and written what is bound to be one of this year's best books." - Seattle Post-Intelligencer


“A spellbinding love story and historical novel of mystery, reincarnation, ancient Egypt. Rose's in-depth research about fragrance adds to the pleasure in what I think is her most exciting book yet. Being immersed in Rose's fictional world is one of those times when you don't want to come back to the real world." —Bookworks

"Smoothly blends historical events, compelling characters, and international intrigue into an absorbing and thrilling ride through the centuries." —Library Journal

"Amazing... utterly engrossing. Elegantly written, with unforgettable characters. Will keep you up all night—and leave you with powerful feelings of revelation, wonder, and the infinitude of human possibility." —New York Times best selling author Douglas Preston

"A simmering brew that mingles the erotic sensuality of Patrick Suskind's Perfume with the dark and timeless obsessions of Rider Haggard's classic, She." —New York Times best selling author Katherine Neville

"Sweeping, heartbreaking and full of sumptuous detail..." —RT Top Pick 4 1/2 stars

"Resonates with spirit, blending myth with reality, tragedy with triumph, pain with joy. You'll find yourself questioning everything you believe—and wanting more." —New York Times bestselling author Steve Berry

“Clever, with beguiling characters; a wonderful mixture of suspense and pace and good old fashioned storytelling." —New York Times Bestseller, Kate Mosse

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49. Guest Post: Meet and Greet the Award Winning Authors at the London Book Fair

Springtime brings in the arrival of the much anticipated London Book Fair 2012. The literary buzz is that the readers and writers will be joined together under one roof at Earls Court Exhibition Centre,

 The London Book Fair has been attracting world-wide spectators and lovers of the written word for 41 years. The 2012 Exhibitor directory professes over 1900 participants thus far.

The London Book Fair 2012 is a well-respected event for promising new comers, established authors, publishers and their audiences. The book fair opens its doors promptly at 9AM on April 16th up through April 18th.

Besides browsing the booths, there are over 250 seminars and events taking place.

The “Author of the Day” series is a popular pastime.  On opening day, the first speaker on-hand and “Author of the Day” will be Peter James, offering creative insight into his novels, including “Dead like You.” Since the 1990’s, Mr. James happens to be an advocate of the e-book concept

An international array of guest speakers has been included in several programs. The London Book Fair celebrates the literature and culture of China with scheduled seminars.

The acclaimed Chinese writer, Bi Feiyu, winner of the 2010 Man Asian Literary Prize for “Three Sisters,” has been designated as the “Author of the Day” on day two of the fair. He is the recipient of other literary awards, including receiving the Xu Lun Prize twice. Bi Feiyu is a screenwriter also and co-wrote the script for the Golden Globe nominee film, “Shanghai Triad.”

On the last day of the fair, children's author Patrick Ness is selected as the “Author of the Day.”  Her highly credited accomplishment of “Chaos Walking Trilogy” is acknowledged by Amazon.com and Publisher's Weekly's listing of the “Best Books of the Year.” The work has won the Costa Children's Book of the Year Prize, the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, and the Booktrust Teenage Prize.

All ticket holders are free to attend any seminar available for that day. However, they are limited in seating capacity, making attendees a first-come first-serve scenario.

Planning a visit:

Secure a hotel room in London for the London Book Fair by visiting cheaphotels.org or holidayapartments.net as a sure bet for the extra space an apartment provides.

Location of venue: Earls Court Exhibition Centre Warwick Road London SW5 9TA

To visit the London Book Fair 2012 public transportation is the way to go.

Tube: Take District Line (green) in Zone 2 to Earls Court station

Train: Eurostar arrives at St Pancras International Station in London. From there, take the Piccadilly Line (dark blue) to Earls Court.

Bus: The following buses stop outside Earls Court on Warwick Road; 31, 74, C1 and C3.

 

 

 

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50. 5 Stages of Grief by Katharine Weber

Exchange the goals depending on your genre and this by Katharine Weber is great!

STAIRCASE WRITING - Katharine Weber's Writing Journal: A WRITER’S FIVE STAGES OF GRIEF AT AWP 

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