Archive for the ‘publishing’ Category

Book, Soup

I thought some might be interested in hearing more about my book project, so here goes.  A few months ago, I received a letter from an academic in California who was editing an anthology of essays on ecofeminism.  He had read my dissertation (which shows a certain amount of initiative, since it is not published and must be ordered through University Microfilms) and thought either of two chapters would work well in his anthology.  I had already published a version of one chapter, but the other had potential.  To make things even better, the chapter with potential was closely related to another article coming out in another ecofeminism book.  I agreed to send in an article and quickly returned the contract.

Because I was a latecomer to this particular book party, I only had a little time to get the article into shape.  I signed the contract in early April and agreed to get the first draft in by June 15.  With classes and the beginning of race season, I didn’t have a lot of free time until after graduation, so I started writing in the middle of May.  I made my editor very happy by turning in an article by June first, and it exactly matched the word count he requested.  Yes, I am an editor’s dream.

The editor also tried to put together a round table panel for the MLA convention, but the MLA convention only accepts boring panel proposals, so we did not get in.  However, the press he is working with wants to publish an entire series of books on ecofeminism, and asked the editor to query the contributors about possible book contracts.  Of course, I jumped at the chance and said I would love to have a book contract.

Here is where it gets even better, and shows that this editor is quite a stand-up fellow.  When he queried me, he asked if it would help my tenure plans, or if it was too late.  When I told him I had to turn in my file by September 15th, but I could add things to it as late as October 15th, he said he would push things to get me a contract in plenty of time for my file.

He then sent me the link to the publisher’s NBO (new book order) form and told me to send it back to him when I was done.  I had it back to him in less than a week.  He made a couple of suggestions to link my project more firmly to the series theme and gave me another week to finish it up.  I had it back to him in two days.

So, the book will be an analysis of the manner in which sentimental rhetoric, the language of feeling, emotion, and empathy, can be used to promote an ecological theme.  I’ll be looking at a number of authors from Susan Fenimore Cooper to Rachel Carson, Barbara Kingsolver, and Michael Pollan.  In the NBO, I set September 2009 as my finish date.  I am hoping I can get a student intern to help out during the year so I can work as quickly as possible.  Here is the press that I’m working with.

And on a completely different note, I made soup tonight with vegetables from the CSA we belong to.  The CSA is a lot of fun, as we get to drive up into the wilds of southern Litchfield county to pick up our share, and we even get to pick some of the things ourselves.  We got strawberries for a couple of weeks, and lately the fresh herbs are ready for picking.  I made a huge batch of pesto with all of the basil we cut.

The past week, the farm had carrots, zucchini, yellow squash, fresh garlic (and if you have only had the dry-husk variety that you buy in the supermarket, fresh garlic is a revelation–it’s so plump and sweet it will knock you over), and herbs.  I decided to make a soup out of it that was remarkably simple to make.  Here is what I did:

Dice up some chicken (optional) and saute in olive oil in a large soup pot.  Don’t be stingy with the oil.  Toss in some chopped onion and a lot of the chopped fresh garlic.  I used almost an entire head of garlic.  When the chicken is cooked, dump in a bunch of water.  How much?  Enough to make soup.  Chop up the squash, zucchini, and carrots and toss those in the water.  Corn is not ripe yet, so I had to cheat and use a can of corn.  In a couple of weeks, we’ll have real, fresh corn, and I’ll have to make some more soup.  Let the whole bunch simmer for a while, adding salt and pepper.  I used a mix of white pepper and black pepper because I like the added bite of white pepper.  At the last minute, toss in some chopped fresh herbs.  I used sage and marjoram, though you can use whatever fresh green things you have.  It was quite delicious.

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Oh Well

I assume that I failed to make the cut in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest.  They have posted the excerpts from the novels that have advanced to the next round, and mine was not among them.  I have been reading the discussion board that Amazon has up for contestants, and it looks like most people got an e-mail telling them whether or not they made it.  A few of us did not receive any notification at all, which is pretty sloppy on Amazon’s part.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at this latest rejection.  So far, my MS has not warranted anything other than form rejection letters (“Dear Author…”), so I know my story isn’t inspiring any sort of passion–positive or negative–at all.  Other readers haven’t been all that enthusiastic, either.  “I don’t usually read this sort of thing, but it’s good for what it is,” is the kind of response I get.  That is, when my readers can actually finish it.  One reader couldn’t make it past the first ten pages, and others have had similar troubles.

My point is that I obviously need to look at my story more critically and realize that it just isn’t all that good.  This conclusion is not a result of the ABNA rejection, but is something I’ve been avoiding thinking about for a few months, and the latest rejection just forces me to confront that reality.  When even your friends don’t like a story, it probably is not very good.

I guess I’ll keep sending the MS out to publishers, just because I have nothing else to do with it.  And eventually, when I can find some time, I’ll keep working on another story.  But it’s hard.  I’ve been needing something to help turn me around, and I was probably putting too much hope in this story.

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Food, Sex

Here is the article on food writing.  I hope Martha’s people don’t read it or I’m in trouble.

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I entered my manuscript in a contest, because at this point, I am willing to dance naked on national TV to get my novel published. This is the contest: The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. If I win, I get published and a $25,000 advance. Plus a big screen plasma TV–seriously. I’m not sure who thought up these prizes. Anyway, part of the contest involves the reviews of Amazon customers. Once the novels are posted, I am asking all of my blogging friends to flock to Amazon and essentially stuff the ballot box. Don’t do anything illegal or unethical, but review me and get your friends to review me and get their friends to review me, and so on. My odds of winning are no worse than 1 in 5,000, since they are stopping submissions once they get that many entries. I figure that is at least as good as my odds of getting an agent. I’ll keep you posted as I get more details.

P.S.  I will skip the self-publishing prize if I win one of those.  I’d rather not publish than self-publish.

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I hate to do this to Litlove, especially since she’s been unwell lately.  However, it must be said:  She is in serious danger of getting completely humiliated in the Race of Rejection™.  As Regular Readers® may remember, Litlove and I are in a fierce competition to determine who can first compile twenty rejections from publishers or agents.  When last we checked our standings, I had racked up an impressive four rejections.  Litlove, sad to say, had none.

Today the humiliation continues.  Yes, friends, I have received another rejection, bringing my total up to five.  According to my admittedly weak math skills, that means I am twenty-five percent of the way to complete victory.  It may not be too soon to raise my arms in a victory salute.

I strongly suspect Litlove will soon have no choice but to concede defeat, as I am sure her first query will result in an acceptance, leaving me the unchallenged King of Rejection©.  As King, I promise a benevolent rule and publications for all.

Now, I understand there are a lot of Litlove partisans out there in Blogland who might say, “But Hobgoblin, your article is going to be published in Americana–surely that means you have already lost!”  To this I must reply, “Not so fast, oh doubters and naysayers!  The competition rules clearly stated that the rejections were for my novel, virtually assuring me a swift and decisive victory!”  Allow me an evil and despotic laugh: “Bwahahahaha!”

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Agents=4; Hobgoblin=0

I actually received THREE rejections today!  Is that a record?  Probably not, but it does sound nicely ink-stained and wretched, doesn’t it?  One of them was an e-mail rejection, so I am only metaphorically ink-stained, I guess.  I am not just winning the Race of Rejections (tm, all rights reserved, etc.) with Litlove, I am positively dominating.  I think I’m going to start sending out to agents who only represent Christian Children’s books so I can collect even more rejections and win the race.  No, that would be cheating, kind of like using EPO or steroids.

I’m preparing my second round of attacks on the Fortress of Agents.  I also decided to try out new and innovative things and submitted the entire MS to Macmillan, which has a New Writers program.  It is not the best deal in the world, since they do not pay advances, but it is a straight business deal and I’ll earn one pound thirty (it’s a UK company) on each copy sold.  They guarantee that an editor will read the entire MS and they will respond in 12 weeks.   If they decide to pass, I hear nothing; if they like it, I will hear by November 21, the day before Thanksgiving.  I’ll be sure to keep you posted.  If they publish, I am requiring every reader of this blog to buy a copy so I can get my $2.62 (wow, the dollar really sucks, doesn’t it?) for each copy.  Based on my blog stats, that should yield about enough to buy a new tire for my bike.

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