Thursday, June 07, 2007

Live Free or Die!

No, this isn't an ad for the next Jon McClane movie (though you can bet your ass that I'll be in line for it, just after I see Knocked Up), rather it's an announcement that I'll be in New Hampshire this weekend for a book signing. (For those who don't get the reference: "Live free or die" is the state's motto, which cracks me up, like there are all these angry, anarchist rebels who inhabit the state.)

The details:

Barnes and Noble
1741 S Willow St. Manchester, NH 03103
Saturday, June 9th
2:00 PM

In other news, I just found out that we sold the German rights to TDLF. So for those of you who sprecken ze deutch, you can have a blast reading through the translation come 2008. :)

That's it for today. I'm busy getting the apartment in shape for our open house this weekend, and packing up the brood for the (long) drive tomorrow AM.

Hope to see some of you New Englanders there on Saturday!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Dying To Ditch the Day Job

My trusty google alert dinged me with this wonderful review from Romance Reader at Heart, which said that, "Every woman should read this book."

I also got a lovely review from the Jewish Reporter, which said that after reading TDLF, "readers may find that they, too, can disregard their own talismans now that they have a guide for finding their way."

Oh, and I don't know that I ever mentioned this, but the Philadelphia Inquirer picked TDLF as one of their five summer reads! Coolio!

If you haven't picked it up, what are you waiting for?? Buy it now!

Question of the day: I am currently involved in a search for a literary agent. I finished my novel six months ago and began querying immediately. My query receives a good response rate, as many agents have requested partials and fulls of my manuscript. However, I find myself increasingly hopeless about actually obtaining an offer from an agent, as many have sent me rejection letters (albeit usually with some positive slant - though I can't help but think they're placating me as they do everybody else with some positive words in closing). Anyway, I was wondering if you have any advice for someone trying to embark on a career as a writer. I'm anxious to leave my current job, but nervous to enter the world of freelance writing and/or odd jobs and an uncertain stream of income. But part of me thinks my mental health will suffer if I don't make this move soon. All I want to do is write! I wanted to wait until I secured an agent before making this big move, but the process is taking much longer than I expected.

First of all, hang in there. As I've said many times on this blog, there is very little instant gratification in this business (not that you're looking for it), but establishing a writing career is a very, VERY long process, and if you don't have the stomach for what could be a decade-long process, this probably isn't the career for you.

Second of all, it sounds like your agent search is going well, or at the very least, you have a strong query letter, since you're getting good responses. Have you taken a fresh look at your material lately? Or had an objective source take a fresh look at it? Perhaps there are tweaks that can be made that you're not aware of that will strengthen your work and take it from good, but not agent-worthy, to outstanding.

Third of all, I'd be very wary about quitting your job (if you're your sole provider or don't have a hefty savings account) just because you've landed an agent. I know that this isn't what you want to hear (and I'm sorry!!), but getting an agent is by no means a lottery ticket: just ask a lot of us whose first works didn't sell. Then, once you've spoken to that group, go talk to another group of published authors whose work DID sell, but barely covered their annual grocery bills. I've said it before here, but the average fiction advance is somewhere in the 10k or less ballpark. Yup. 10k. Not exactly the ticket to luxurious living, even if you live in the cheapest town in America.

Fourth of all, if your job is killing you, maybe you can find something writing-related outside of work that will help fulfill you. A critique group. A fiction class. Anything that will make you a stronger writer while also beating back the workday doldrums.

Fifth of all, if you're hellbent on leaving your job to write full-time, I'd line up clients long before you say "sayonara" to your boss. I don't know what your area of expertise is, but say, for example, that you're capable of doing corporate work...well, I'd contact some small businesses in your area and try to secure them for future work. This will a) ensure some flow of income after you leave and b) reduce your (sure to be high) stress level once you do leave and are frantic to take on more clients.

So...that's my advice. Readers, what say you to this writer who is dying to leave the daily grind?

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Crossover Content

Quick reading note: Johanna Edwards' new book, How to Be Cool, launches today, and for those of you who want a light, diverting beach read, I'm sure that this is it! Johanna was kind enough to blurb me when I blindly emailed her a year or so ago, and she's turned out to be a super-cool (ergo, the title of her book!) gal.

Question of the day: In January, a magazine I write for on the regular, contacted me to write a story. I outlined. It was approved. I submitted a first draft. Got positive feedback and made a revision. Two weeks after submitting the revision in February, I e-mailed my backup materials to the editor to pass on to fact-check. The ed responded to my e-mail and said that the story had been bumped due to page count issues; not sure when would get back on the lineup. Yesterday, I read a story in this magazine. It covered roughly 40 percent of the topics in my story. My thoughts: crap! and nearly half my story can't run now because the info's already out there. Replacing those portions of my story aren't an option. Bottom line: damn kill fee for 25% is in my contract--something I should have fought a long time ago. However, my bone to pick is that the work was technically "accepted." How would you approach said ed with your expectations?

I would proceed as if you hadn't seen the piece at all because whether or not they ran similar content shouldn't matter at ALL when it comes to full payment vs. a kill fee. Of course, we all know how writers can get screwed on this issue, so I'd immediately start pressing your editor for payment because it sounds like, given the fact-checking, your story has clearly been accepted, and you're due your check. Now. I'd make no mention of the other piece, instead, just say that you haven't been paid, and you expect to be. Period. Regardless of crossover content, she outlined her expectations and you delivered them, so...there's nothing to argue over.

She should get your check in the mail asap, and that should be that. So I'd email/call her right away and proceed as normal.

Anyone else have other suggestions?

Monday, June 04, 2007


Well, I hit BEA on Friday, and I lived to tell about it. (Though barely.)

For those of you who don't know about Book Expo America, it's a huge, HUGE, 3-day convention in which all the publishers gather to show off and pitch their new and upcoming books. And when I say huge, I mean huge. (TWSS - a little shout-out to The Office fans. Hee!) It was so packed that my taxi driver wouldn't even pull up to the convention center, so I had to walk seven blocks to the entrance, and since it was a lovely 90 degrees on Friday, I arrived in less than fresh fashion.

Anyhoo, I checked in (no easy feat, amidst the chaos), and proceeded upstairs to meet my publicist, agent and marketing manager, and immediately got lost/dizzy in the sea of booths, people and publishers. Think: a football field filled with booths and posters all about books. I mean, this place is enormous. I walked through the Grand Central (formerly Warner) area and ran into an old editor friend of mine. I was still profusely sweating - seriously! - I was using a flyer as a fan - and completely discombobulated (which, incidentally, is one of my favorite words), when I noticed the time, and had to dash to meet my peeps because...drum roll...I was about to be late to my autographing session.

So, another editor whom I know dashed by, and said, "They're waiting for you!," so I ran over, they nabbed me, and we proceeded to an entirely different floor (yes, this place was HUGE, I tell you), where we dipped behind some curtains (think: Wizard of Oz), got some water and trail mix (seriously: like they're trying to ensure that you have energy to make it through your session), and then were called up to our post. I proceeded to frantically sign books for the next 30 mins, which doesn't sound like a lot of time, but trust my cramping hand, was a lot of time. It was pretty cool actually - I was right next to the gals who wrote The Nanny Diaries, and just a few posts down from (gasp!) Jodi Picoult, whom I revere.

When my time was up, they cordoned off my area, and I got booted for the next author. I wandered around and looked for some children's galleys for my son (but came up empty), and then had to meet my agent on the top floor. (Is anyone still even reading at this point? See? You're tired, just like I was starting to get at this point in the convention.) Shortly after we met up, I found myself two feet away from the amazing Ms. Picoult, so I introduced myself (dying!), and thanked her so much for graciously answering my email (within an hour, even!) last summer, when I blindly wrote her to ask her for a blurb. (She was about to leave for a tour, so ever-so-politely declined.) She was lovely and smiley and warm, despite the fact that I was probably frothing at the mouth, and she was most likely more exhausted than I was. (Because, obviously, she had a gazillion more people to meet than I did.)

Anyhoo, that was the highlight. From there, I met all sorts of other industry peeps, including some of my agent's agent friends, who were totally cool and normal. Which I found so hilarious. Because when you're querying agents, you figure that they're up in their thrones, totally la-dee-da and scary and intimidating and all of that, but here these wonderful gals were - completely normal and chatty and totally could-be-my-friend sorts of people. So I had a little "aha" moment that I thought I could pass on to you guys. Agents: they're just like us! 2:30, I could barely form an intelligible sentence (I'm not even kidding - my editor friend whom I saw at the beginning of the day saw me again and was like, "You're fried,"), and was also so ravenous I almost entertained eating the scary food options, but alas, opted to head home. Of course, it would be nice to end this story there, but NOOOOO....I couldn't get a friggin' cab, so ended up walking about 13 blocks in the now nearly-deathly heat, until some kind cabbie finally took mercy on me and whipped me uptown to my favorite Cosi, where I proceeded to purchase sustenance and return to my apartment to plop on my bed and watch The Starter Wife, which I'd taped the night before. (Wow, that's a hell of a long sentence.)

Later, when I recovered, I realized that I had a lot of fun, but also hoped that this helped spread the word about TDLF. Because, I have to admit, when you see HOW MANY books are out there, all vying for a piece of attention and press and love, it's pretty scary. I mean, what can you do to ensure your book's success? I'm not really sure.

So, that was BEA. Anyone out there also attend? Thoughts? And who caught The Starter Wife? I'm sort of digging Debra Messing all over again!