Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Happy Release Day!

 New Release from Vagabondage Press:

EXPERIENCED: Rock Music Tales of Fact & Fiction

EXPERIENCED is an anthology of compelling narratives giving new insight into the drama of the rock music world from every literary angle, and exploring rock’s profound effect on our culture and its divine influence over the devoted faithful.

Cutting to the core truths of rock music culture, Experienced is among the first rock anthologies to explore rock music and culture from the inside-out. Featuring works by some of the premier performers, writers and chroniclers of rock music: James, Greer, Jim DeRogatis, David Menconi, Brad Kava, Fred de Vries and others. You’ll read about touring musicians and touring fans. Label signings gone awry. A late-night DJ and a serial killer. The evolution of life as a roadie. These are stories unique to each writer; yet, you’ll discover within them an experience that is universal. Some are fiction and some non-fiction, but they’re all true.

Edited by Roland Goity and John Ottey

Buy at our Website in in ePub, Mobi & PDF and trade paperback EXPERIENCED

Also at Amazon, B&N, Omnit, GoogleBooks, or order from an independant bookseller near you.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Importance of Spelling?

The Importance of Spelling

This is a great essay from the NYT blogs on typos and spelling, and I have to recommend it heartily.

"Some readers like to see portraits of authors they admire, study their personal histories or hear them read aloud. I like to know whether an author can spell. Nabokov spelled beautifully. Fitzgerald was crummy at spelling, bedeviled by entry-level traps like “definate.” Bad spellers, of course, can be sublime writers and good spellers punctilious duds. But it’s still intriguing that Fitzgerald, for all his gifts, didn’t perceive the word “finite” in definite, the way good spellers automatically do. Did this oversight color his impression of infinity? Infinaty?"


Lots of great comments and debate happening, and well worth reading.

Best comment ever: GO BUY A COMMA! Amen.

I'm on the fence about this, because I do see the English language as a fluid, evolving thing. On the other hand, I know that even the tiniest typo can niggle at the mind and distract a reader from a great story.

Your thoughts? Do you feel that the digital age and the expansion of platforms that use limited characters (twitter, texts, etc.) are a natural evolution of the language or a sign of the End Times.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cover Letters and the Slush Pile of Doom

Cover Letters and the Slush Pile of Doom

Just a little reminder to our author friends: when submitting a work to an agent, editor or publisher, it is customary to introduce the manuscript with a covering letter. Most agents, editors and publishers will remind you to include this small courtesy in their submissions guidelines.

A cover letter is a standard for seeking publication for commercial/genre fiction. In fact, it’s safe to say that it’s a standard requirement for any submittal in any and all cases for any type of writing. It’s basically a short letter describing the book, introducing yourself to the agent/publisher and then offering the manuscript for representation or publication.

With the rising use of electronic submissions, many agents and publishers have decided to pass on the query process, and accept a full manuscript up front; electrons are endless, and time is saved. You still need to provide a cover letter.

Cover letters are really just like query letters. In the latter case, you’re asking the agent/publisher if they would like to see more of the manuscript. In a cover letter, you are attaching and providing the actual manuscript. When you are providing the manuscript, whether it’s the first communication or in response to a request for a partial or full, you need to provide a cover letter, and that cover letter must include a short and intriguing blurb about the book. It’s the single most important thing you need to include on a query or cover letter.

Spending some time crafting your book blurb and cover letter is in your best interest – it will get your submission read. I don’t know anyone willing to pick up and read a 90k word novel without checking the back blurb, do you? Reading is a great pleasure, but it’s also an investment of time and emotion, and the same back blurb that sells books on shelves and online helps sell your submission to the agent or editor. Without it, your submission can be a quick delete, a fast pass. Even if the editor chooses to begin reading the manuscript, if it doesn’t draw them in the first scene, and they don’t have a good blurb or synopsis to reference to let them know what the conflict or theme of the story is to give them something to look forward to, you may not get more than that first scene read.

Without using that book blurb/synopsis, any other material you provide on your cover letter is pointless. An elevator pitch (1-2 sentences) is fine, but when faced with a 300 page read, most editors/agents would prefer to know what to expect going in. I recommend using both: first the pitch, then the blurb. Give them something to get them reading, then something to look forward to reading.

After you’ve mastered those elements, then you can tell the story of how you discovered you wanted to be a writer. Once you’ve pitched your story, then you can list the stories you've already had published.
Expecting an editor or agent to dive right into a full manuscript without a proper cover letter is a bit like expecting them to go all the way on a first date.

Oh, they may, but you gotta get ‘em drunk on the pitch, first.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

New Release: Candy and Cigarettes by CS DeWildt

Candy and Cigarettes by CS DeWildt

In the face of revenge, innocence is meaningless.

Death is omnipresent to small-town loner Lloyd Bizbang. Today proves no exception. After being attacked yet again by a pair of sociopaths who have targeted him since childhood, Lloyd stumbles upon a sight he wishes he could unsee in the town junkyard. Now as he just tries to live through another day, the bodies are stacking up in the town of Horton, and Lloyd finds himself connected to each of them via the drug-and-drink-addled, unhinging police chief, yet another person who has an old score to settle with Lloyd. A game of revenge and survival is underway, but will there be a winner at the day’s end?

Formats: Digital; ePub, Mobi, PDF
ISBN: 978-1-4524-6478-7
Genre: Dark Literary
Rating: 18+
Length: 21K words

To Purchase all formats, visit Vagabondage Press
About the Author:

CS DeWildt lives and writes in Tucson, Arizona. He is currently working on a novel and a collection of shorts. His work has been showcased on sites like Bartleby Snopes, Word Riot, The Bicycle Review, Writer’s Bloc and Mobius Magazine.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

New Release: Lyrotica ~ An Anthology of Erotic Poetry and Prose

Now in Print:

Lyrotica ~ An Anthology of Erotic Poetry and Prose

With special guest editor, Rebecca Ammon, syndicated sex and relationships blogger/columnist.

Twenty poets and eighteen authors come together under the editorial dominion of syndicated sex and lifestyle blogger and columnist Rebecca Ammon to bring you a divine taste of debauchery. With work from established erotica writers to literary storytellers, Lyrotica is a masterful mosaic of lyrical and sensual short stories and poems.

Inspired by the classic masters of literary erotica, Lyrotica is brings you captivating depictions of love, lust, and pleasure that will keep you enthralled. More than just a collection of titillating stories, Lyrotica is thought-provoking literature about the transformational power of human sexuality. Within these pages, you'll find tales of empowerment and revelation told through the ancient language of lust and desire.

From the Editor's Foreword:

"Through the words of this expressive manuscript, expect to find yourself swept away momentarily to a place not far from your dreams and quite possibly far, far away from your real life. Similarly to my own manuscript of life, the pages before you express an anthology of poetry and prose so sexually arousing, you won’t be able to put it down." ~ Rebecca Ammon

Read an Excerpt HERE

Contributors include Lyn Lifshin, Richard Godwin, Maxine Marsh, Laura LeHew, Heller Levinson, Ran Walker and more...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Author Insides ~ Corinne Wasilewski

Corinne Wasilewski's short story, "Walking on Water," appears in the Spring 2011 issue of The Battered Suitcase. Corinne was born and raised in New Brunswick, Canada and presently lives in Sarnia, Ontario with her husband and teen-aged son. Writing has been her compulsion for several years now. She might not tell everyone this, but, she finds fiction more real than life. Her short stories have appeared in Front&Centre and The Windsor Review. She has a story forthcoming in The Nashwaak Review.

Corinne, when did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I have diary that proves I wanted to be a writer as early as ten, but, I think the desire was there as early as seven or eight. I was always a reader – would read a Nancy Drew book in a single sitting in grade three – so it was my love of reading that was the impetus for writing.

Why do you write?
In the beginning I wrote because I thought I had something important to say. Now I write to amuse myself and because I enjoy spending time with the characters.

Is being a writer anything like you imagined it would be?
No. I didn’t realize how little control the writer has in the whole process – how it’s more a matter of letting the characters take control. I also didn’t realize what little financial compensation there is for writers.

What do you think makes a good story?
To me, a good story is all about the characters. I want to be able to get into a character’s head and understand what makes them tick. I want to see them grow and develop.

What's your favorite genre to read?
Literary fiction -- short stories and gargantuan novels.

Who is your favorite author or poet?
I don’t have a favourite author, just favourite books.

What books or stories have most influenced you the most as a writer?
The Thin Place by Kathryn Davis, Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer, The History of Love by Nicole Krauss, A Recipe for Bees by Gail Anderson-Dargatz, and A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. These books gave me permission to be as quirky and unorthodox in my writing as I want.

What books or stories have most influenced you as a person?
Mercy Among the Children by David Adams Richards, The Book of Ruth by Jane Hamilton, The Romantic by Barbara Gowdy, Norman Bray in the Performance of His Life by Trevor Cole and Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte because they give you the insight that allows you to have compassion for the most unlikely characters and compassion is something I’m short on sometimes.

Where/how do you find the most inspiration?
I tend to shut out the emotional side of life so any situation that causes me emotional turmoil is good fodder for a story.

What does your family think of your writing?
They tolerate it, but, I think they feel neglected at times.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
I write every day – even at Christmas. I don’t see it as work. It’s just something I like to do. I have a full-time job that is totally removed from writing, so, I’m doing good if I get in an hour of writing a day.

Do you have any writing quirks or rituals?
I write best in the morning. I like to roll out of bed, make a cup of coffee and head straight to the computer.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Endings! I hate writing endings.

What are your current projects?
I’ve been working on a novel for several years now – I’m probably three quarters done at this point.

What are you planning for future projects?
No specific plans, but, I’ll be writing something.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
Read and write. Write every day. Write even when you don’t feel like it.

Where can we find your work?
In my hard drive at home. No, seriously, in 2010 I had short stories appear in two Canadian publications: “Front&Center” and “The Windsor Review” and I have another pending in “The Nashwaak Review” in 2011.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Op-Ed: Rose-Colored Fiction Handicaps Teens

My Rebuttal To Darkness Too Visible

As the managing editor of a small press that occasionally publishes fiction for young adults, I was unable to simply ignore the position taken by Meghan Cox Gurdon in her WSJ op-ed piece “Darkness Too Visible.” But as a parent of 19 years, many of which were spent with intelligent and highly literate teenagers, I was also a bit dismayed by the continued endorsement of committee-sanitized fiction for teenagers in the 21st century.  It’s a noble intention, I guess, but it doesn’t serve the purposes of fiction, nor does it serve the purposes of education. As a parent, I have to call bullshit on this one.

Art is the ultimate equalizer. Art reflects life and compels thoughtful consideration about that life. And art that contains universal elements that engage a wide audience succeeds. If edgier, even uglier, fiction succeeds, then I have to suggest that perhaps it isn’t because the pathologies are being normalized, but because they are being recognized.

Refusing to acknowledge these back alleys of life alienates real live human beings. Hiding it for ‘decency’s sake’ just to make a few gatekeepers sleep easier and justify their jobs — well, that makes these dark events not-really-real, doesn’t it? And the next thing you know, the people who lived through these events, they become not-really-people.

It is the publishing industry’s job to sell books and it does that by providing a product that their customers can engage with and relate to. It is a parent’s job to raise children—more specifically, it’s their job to raise those children to become adults. As a parent, I’m personally not convinced that adolescents can become adults without some exposure to adult fears, concerns and even pleasures.

Ms. Gurdon is correct. Many older teenagers don’t read young adult books at all. I suspect that may be because, until the current trend in edgy YA fiction, many of the books typically labeled for young adults are, in fact, written for children. I know it’s part of our national obsession to keep young people as na├»ve, ignorant and disenfranchised for as long as legally possible—far past the point when biology and instinct demand that they become functioning adults. I’m not completely in disagreement with that policy; physical maturity aside, even older teens can make some distressingly bad choices for life in modern, civilized society. But teenagers aren't children, and the poor decision to lump books for 17-year0olds in with books for 12-year-olds just to reach a bigger market may be part of the problem. Twelve year olds are children. Seventeen year olds are not.

But I think we owe teens more credit than that. They need—and deserve—art for themselves, that reflects their lives and compels thoughtful consideration of that life. This is the age when people will face their first choice between desire and duty. This is the time they make those first value judgments about issues like abuse and rape and hate crime. This is the time when they will decide exactly how they will change the world. Refusing them art that explores these issues handicaps them by stripping away knowledge of the very ugliness, ignorance and violence that they will need to battle for the rest of their lives. Just when they need to learn about it.

And don’t sell them short by dumbing down or sanitizing their art.

I'd love to hear your opinions. Do you think that the currently slate of young adult literature is too graphic or too dark? Too violent? Or do you think publishers of 'children's' fiction are finally getting onboard with reality? Or do you think books for older teens should be relabeled and reshelved into a 'New Adult' category?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Author Insides - GK Wuori

G. K. Wuori, a Pushcart Prize winner and Illinois Arts Council Fellow, has published more than a hundred stories in such journals as The Gettysburg Review, Prairie Schooner, The Missouri Review, The Kenyon Review, and Shenandoah. His novel, An American Outrage, was a Foreword Magazine Book of the Year, and his story collection, Nude In Tub, a Quality Paperback Book Club New Voices Award Nominee, continues to grow its cult-classic following. He is associate editor of the literary journal Kippis, and currently lives in Sycamore, Illinois, where he writes a monthly column called Cold Iron at GKWuori.com.

Jerry - when did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

It probably happened in college after I placed a few pieces in the literary magazine. Not only did writing seem like a cool thing to do, but it seemed like I was able to do it really, really well. Plus, I didn’t have the faintest idea of what I wanted to do with my life.

Why do you write?

I write because I think someone has to be an official, recording witness to the wild and phantasmagorical array of convoluted, contradictory, interesting, and amusing stuff that is life as we know it in our time. Fortunately, I’m not the only one because that’s an awful lot to write about.

Is being a writer anything like you imagined it would be?

I’ve never been terribly sure of what life itself is supposed to be like, although I revel in its surprises and occasionally despair over its insanities. I could probably say pretty much the same thing about being a writer.

What do you think makes a good story?

Interesting people doing interesting things – usually by getting themselves into trouble and then getting out of it.

What's your favorite genre to read?


Who is your favorite author or poet?

Kurt Vonnegut (fiction) and Charles Bukowski (poet)

What books or stories have most influenced you the most as a writer?

I think Plato’s Republic and Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics are among the greatest influences in my writing and my life. They’re like two pillars holding me in place as my characters struggle to find an ideal world in which to live and to answer the basic question of what it means to be a decent human being.

What books or stories have most influenced you as a person?

I read Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 once a year. It nourishes me and tells me a) that what I’m doing is worthwhile and b) that there are bastards out there who would really like that I not do it.

Where/how do you find the most inspiration?

By planting myself at my keyboard every day and hoping that something pops into my head. It usually does.

What does your family think of your writing?

Since I’ve published a couple of books and over a hundred stories and they still include me in family/holiday gatherings I like to assume they approve. I also think it’s unfair ever to put any family member on the spot by asking what they think of your work.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?

There’s not really any “when” to it. I simply write every day, sometimes for just a few hours, sometimes all day. Depends on the work at hand.

Do you have any writing quirks or rituals?

I have a nice window near my writing table. I stare a lot.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Poetry. I love writing poems. I’ve written probably sixty-four zillion of them and published about a dozen. So I’ve concluded I’m not really much of a poet but I keep trying.

What are your current projects?

I’m writing plays.

What are you planning for future projects?

More plays.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Just read and stay away from writing programs.

Where can we find your work?

The best place would be to start at my website, http://www.gkwuori.com/.

GK's novella, Now That I'm Ready To Tell You Everything is now available from Vagabondage Press.

It can be purchased at Amazon.com for Kindle, in Print and at B&N for Nook

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Writer's Resources ~ July Edition: Book Contests

We all love driving ourselves mindlessly insane by entering writing contests, right? After all, who needs the sleep? Pacing the floorboards, sucking caffeine and trying to slide that double cheeseburger in with all those flutterbys can mean a quick 5 pound drop just in time for the beach.

Here's some writing contests with July 2011 deadlines.

THE STORY: WRITERS ON THE INFLUENCE OF CINEMA will be an e-anthology of essays by authors exploring the relationship between movies and their work. Edited by Cynthia Hawkins. Forthcoming from Calavera Books. Deadline July 22, $5 Entry Fee

ACCENTS PUBLISHING 2011 International Poetry Book Contest: Two winners will be selected – one by an independent judge, Lisa Williams, and one by the Senior Editor and founder of Accents Publishing, Katerina Stoykova-Klemer. Each winner will have his/her submission published and will receive a $500 cash prize. Additionally, the winners will be invited for a featured reading at a book premiere celebration event. All contest entries will be considered for regular publication with Accents Publishing, as well. 60-120 pages of poetry. Deadline July 31, $20 Entry Fee

MISSISSIPPI VALLEY Mississippi Valley Poetry Chapbook Contest: Submit between 16 to 24 pages of poetry; manuscripts should be paginated and secured with a binder clip (no staples). No names or identifying information should appear on the poems. Deadline July 31, $15 Entry Fee.

WHITE PINE PRESS: Marie Alexander poetry series. Deadline is July 31, No Reading Fee

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

New Release Tuesday! The He and She of It by Barry Spacks

The He and She of It by Barry Spacks

A ’50s tale, seen from today, of two male poets in love with a demanding muse, both willing to do whatever her Dionysian heart desires ~ three gleeful and wounded hearts at play, sympathetic, ambiguous, engagingly human.

For some, the decade of the ’50s played out as an erotically turbulent era.

So it was, for noted poet Elton Gold, who looks back on a life-forming affair in the with intense, queenly Gloria Zissic, a generative figure to him and to his British fellow-poet Andrew Norton as well.

These three gradually find themselves experimenting with combinations and cohabitations that their conservative university can't allow, as they grow in strength, affection, and wit by insisting on being who they are: a literary-savvy folie-a-trois.

Digital Novella
Praise for The He and She of It

“I loved this novella from start to finish. It has tremendous zest and lift, the embedded poems enriching the story, le mot juste at every turn, the voice never flagging in its convincing recreation of the ’50s, seen both as happening in real time and in retrospect from the present day. This is inspired work.”
— Bob Brill, author of Hibiscus Sex and Old Man on a Tricycle

"A daring confession of relations between two young poets and a sexually liberated 1950s-era feminist provocateur, this story takes us on quite a trip through a labyrinth of youthful Eros and bravado. Marked by taut and shimmering prose, The He and She of It is wise, witty and wondrous."
— Tai Carmen Warner, author of the prize-winning poetry collection Pollen