As Stiltsville makes its way through the publishing pipeline, honestly very little happens — but I have a few bits of news I wanted to share with my mailing list and visitors.
I have a piece of flash fiction (a one-page story) up now on SignificantObjects.com.
SO.com is a very cool organization — they have curators who purchase thrift-store and garage-sale finds, then get writers (beaucoup biggies included) to imbue the stories with significance. Then they auction object and story on EBay. Proceeds go to Girls Write Now, which supports creative, at-risk teens.
My story is about a couple of cute novelty pens. You can read it here on the SO.com site.
And you can bid on the pens — for a good cause, remember! — here on eBay.
So far, I have a few readings scheduled for the late summer/fall — mark your calendars if you’re in the area, because I’d love to see you there! You can get more info about events on the site’s Events page. Also, if you or your book club would like me to visit, please let me know, and I’ll rally HarperCollins to get me there.
Milwaukee, WI / August 10, 2010 / Next Chapter Bookshop
Madison, WI / August 12, 2010 / Borders Books
Chicago, IL / August 18, 2010 / Book Cellar
Iowa City, IA / September 13, 2010 / Prairie Lights
Miami, FL / September 16, 2010 / Books & Books
An excerpt from the novel will be published in One Story in May. If you’re not familiar with this great lit mag, check it out. You can subscribe to the print edition, which guarantees a great short story in your inbox every three weeks, or get individual stories on the Kindle edition, which you can download from Amazon.com.
Now that I’ve sold a novel, I’m fortunate enough to spend the bulk of each day at the desk in my home office — applying the seat of my pants to the seat of my chair, as the saying goes.
In the past weeks, I’ve written a bit of flash fiction for SignificantObjects.com (link to come once the piece is published); a proposal for an essay for the New York Times Book Review (link to come if ever this thing is accepted and written and published); and a lengthy letter to my son’s babysitter about how to hurdle theoretical obstacles while my husband and I are out for the night.
I’ve also written another 15 or so pages of my new novel (total count so far: 150 pages, give or take a few dozen pages of garbage — or maybe the whole thing is garbage — one can only wait and see!) and about 300 emails to my friends and editor and agent and father and playgroup.
And now, I’m working on flap copy for my novel. Also known as jacket copy. Also known as the succinct, seductive summary of one’s novel, designed to lure the potential reader into purchasing or renting or borrowing a copy of the novel itself.
I’m more or less qualified to perform most of the aforementioned writing tasks. I’m a crackerjack emailer (shout out to my email buddies, without whom my inbox would be empty!) and I like to think my Babysitter Notes are witty and readable (with a little mother-bear-growling between the lines). I don’t often write flash fiction — truth be told, I don’t often write regular-lengthed stories — but I think the piece turned out OK. As for the new novel (Number Two, as I think of it privately, though I hope the double meaning hasn’t been earned), I haven’t yet faced a crisis of confidence, and so I soldier on.
So yes, I’m more or less qualified to complete the above tasks — except for one.
People often ask — all the time, they ask — what my book is about. You’d think by this time I’d have an answer.
And what is flap copy except a lengthy answer to that question? I’ve never been good at marketing. I always thought I should be good at it — but the few times I’ve tried my hand at it, I’ve ended up feeling awkward and self-conscious and smarmy. I don’t like shmoozing or selling myself, and I’m not good at it.
Working on this flap copy, I feel like I’m interviewing, but not for a job — for a friend. It’s like I’m saying, Here’s me. Here’s my bloody, beating heart and my scratched and sullied soul. Here’s the cluttered inside of my brain. Would you like to see more?
“Am I qualified for this?” I asked my friends via email. I could feel the roll of their eyes even as they emailed back that yes, they believe I am. Since, you know, I wrote the book and all.
And what’s happening now is that I’m circumventing the “applying seat of pants” rule by staying put but still avoiding the writing I have to do. “Take your time,” said my editor. “We have until the end of the week.” Ha, I wanted to reply. You’re serious? A week? This isn’t a babysitter note or an email about toddler shoes and eating habits; this isn’t a 500-word story or a pitch to the New York Times. This is a mountain.
I’m suspecting it’s going to be a long week. If anyone’s reading this blog, I’ll give you ten bucks to write it for me. I can give you the &^$% I’ve written so far. OK, make it twenty bucks. OK, name your price.