The Forest for the Trees

This is a guest blog with some good points about queries. Another  point of course is to be sure your lead paragraphs mentions (along with a good hook and the book title, genre, word count, and any super-major (short] blog you may have for it, the reason you are querying this particular agent or press.

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

There’s a story in there somewhere…

I’ve been querying a book and it has not been going well. I had a few requests from conference meetings and Twitter pitchfests, but in the actual emailing-agents-I’ve-never-met process, I was just not getting the response I hoped for.

This was deeply puzzling.

I definitely workshopped the heck out of the actual book. It’s a Young Adult novel so I had kids read it (they showed up 40 minutes early for school to discuss it, perhaps the best compliment my work has ever received). Good adult readers read it and gave feedback I used.

And I workshopped the heck out of the query. I read all of Query Shark (highly recommended!). I participated in Twitter pitchfests. I ran the query by query workshop leaders.

But not too many nibbles.

A couple of weeks ago, two of my writer buddies and I were sitting in…

View original post 454 more words

Advertisements

Five Reasons You Can’t Get Your Novel Published – And Why It’s Not Your Fault

This is a fine article that I hope is helpful to my author friends. I wish it spoke more to the fact that only 5 or 6 publishing corporations, themselves part of huge conglomerates beholden only to stockholders, control all US “major” publishers (and of course the “major media” (and their book reviewers) as well). So here’s Kahaner’s blog–and a useful one it is.
by Larry Kahaner

Dear Author:             Thanks for sending us your manuscript. The plot is unique, the characters are compelling and the writing is top notch. It’s one …

Source: Five Reasons You Can’t Get Your Novel Published – And Why It’s Not Your Fault

Where Were You?

This account–NOT by me but by a very courageous and eloquent participant in the MLKing Day Black Lives Matter civil disobedience action on the Oakland Bay Bridge–is so right on! As some of you know, my novel of the late-1960s antiwar demonstrations at Port Chicago now nears completion, and I am struck how alike are the challenges then and now for those who would, nonviolently,change the social structure.

mostly * danger

I was shaking as we loaded into the cars. I was shaking as we went through the toll plaza. I was shaking as the cars started to slow down, and when they stopped in the middle of the Bay Bridge. I was shaking when the cops pulled my arms behind my back and my voice shook as our voices lifted up the names of the dead. I was terrified, I was furious, I was inspired.

And by the time we got to the Highway Patrol office, I also really, really had to pee.

I was pleading with every cop that walked by to let me use the bathroom. They told me they had to find a female cop to take me, and that there were none on duty, though I could see several gathering outside our makeshift cell and knew they were lying. Finally the comrade sitting next to me…

View original post 580 more words

I’m an Old Woman Now and I Still Remember

first posted by me in Aisenbe’s blog bullyingstories
[Note: “Polly” is pen name I used on Aisenbe’s blogsite.]

Bullying Stories

I am always grateful for the adults that share the stories of their past here, because it is the same reason I chose to. We don’t forget. We don’t forget the bad and we also don’t forget the good. Sometimes, as in the title of this story, someones we don’t forget the ones that didn’t beat us up or pick on us. Not only that, but I am grateful for a writer that shares such clarity in their words as Polly has below. I am honored to share her story. ~Alan Eisenberg


I’m an old woman now, and I still remember one girl didn’t beat me up that day

I’m an old woman now, and I still remember that one girl, pretty and blond and from the South, didn’t beat me up that day the others jumped me in the alley, going home at lunch time. In fact, Lucy–I don’t…

View original post 524 more words

Confronting sociopolitical denial

“It’s fine–I’m fine–everything’s fine,” says Theo parodically (Theo is the hero in Cuaron’s politically brilliant film Children of Men), whenever something particularly terrible occurs. For indeed isn’t “Everything’s fine” the claim of power, stupidity, and/or denial through the years?

This comes to mind, this late-March 2014, as we read of the county officials ignoring hydrologists’ and army engineers’ warnings of the deadly hillside that fell, 4 days ago, on the town of Oso, WA. I am reminded of it, too, by the county officials and new neighbor here who continue to ignore concerns that the neighbor’s excavations may harm my easement and home. I am reminded further when I consider the “deaf ear” turned to the dangers of noise (such as constant television noise in hospitals or apartment buildings) just as, for decades, the dangers of air-particle pollution were denied.

Above all, I am reminded of the Cold War years, not only the crazed denial that more nukes would bring more security, but, worse, the all-permeating claim–enforced especially through “freudian” psychology and its popularizers (including the too beautifully made but inimical films The Snakepit and The Goddess, and that worst-of-the-worst pop-psych books, Generation of Vipers)–that, especially for women, blacks, and the powerless, If You Think Something’s Wrong, It Means That Something’s Wrong in You.

The greatest internal liberation of the 1960s, for many of us, and of the early 1970s for many women, was to see that No It Isn’t Wrong in Us–We Are Whole and the Problem Is the System.

Yes, the problems, as we learned, were and are in our political-social system(s). Part of what we–as persons, as writers, as woman or man or trans or other, and of any age–continue to learn, and each generation learns anew, is what–and how pervasive, and at how many levels–these systems are.

 

Copyright 2014 by Paula Friedman. All rights reserved.

Listing through snow

We were snowed in for four days, electricity off at all hours through most this time. Icy and beautiful one night, trees–their limbs–tinkled in the wind, falling. Today outside was sunny and still and bright, brilliant sparkles on the white, blue-shadowed, rolling-heaped snow.

A time to make lists, worn out from building wood fires in the tiny stove, digging out the car, shivering in the cold, changing from wet clothes.

The Rescuer’s Path, my new novel, is now (available on amazon, barnesandnoble, plainviewpress.net, etc., and) up on Goodreads. To “drive traffic to one’s book,” should I make Listopia lists? Rather than let people know, This is a novel of a Holocaust survivor’s daughter who aids a half-Arab antiwar leader suspected of the lethal bombing of an army truck, and of the trust and love that blooms between them, of their flight and the long pursuit–? Rather than tell people that Ursula Le Guin calls this novel “exciting, physically vivid, and romantic,” and that Cheryl Strayed, Carole Glickfeld, Heather Sharfeddin, Barbara Mullen, folksinger/writer Carol Denney, blogger Harriet Klausner–all speak highly of this book.

All right, lists. (That last sentence had a list.) I love lists. And movie and science fiction dystopias. And really, really good films–books and films. Here they are, then–

10 Best Films of all time (features)

The Seventh Seal

The Official Story

Children of Paradise

Odd Man Out

La Jetée

(Wajda’s trilogy) A Generation, Kanal, Ashes and Diamonds

Au revoir, les enfants

Duel in the Sun

A Place in the World

oh okay, Casablanca. But there’s Coup de grâce. Citizen Kane. Battle of Algiers. Midnight Cowboy. Four or more of Bergman’s best. And . . .

Next time–10 Best Novels of all time.

Which would you list?

The Power of a Book

Today, 11-11-11, I reread John Hersey’s book Hiroshima (1946).

This is a book written long before films sported iconic mushroom clouds, a la Children of Men (2006), or bristled with pamphlet-perfect flash-‘n-blast, like the playground scene in Terminator 2 (1985). It’s a book from well before the “nuclear literature” that later became material for graduate-level fields—a book from before the Cold War or the years of post-Dr.-Strangelove sophistication.

This is a book of journalism, built from interviews with six persons who survived an unforeseen actuality in the moment when the Bomb and its effects had been unknown and were still inconceivable, entirely new.

Thus the presentation, moment by moment, of these survivors’ (and, in the writing, the author’s) confrontation with worsening, unimagined horrors can cut, even today, past our defenses.

It’s a good book to read when people in power talk about “taking out” Iran or Israel, Damascus or D.C. It’s a book that may have helped, if people in power opened and read it, in 1946, in 1962, yesterday.

A good book to read those hours one wonders if writing’s a waste of time.