Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Geographies of Writing and Reading

This long break between posts is thanks to a trip to Israel followed by conferences/book fairs in NY and, finally, the literary festival in Manchester, Vermont. I’m always heartened by the creativity and enterprise that lurk in these mountains – especially in the spring when people finally emerge from wood-heated rooms and find each other again. We had great organic pizza from Mach’s Brick Oven Bakery of Pawlet, VT (pop. 1,400), award-winning cheese from Consider Bardwell Farm, and fine music from Red Heart the Ticker, which I hadn’t heard of but apparently was once on Prairie Home Companion. (I've got their CD on now.) Writing is definitely happening up this way. The festival organizer, Clemma Dawson, is thinking big for next year, noting she’s hoping for work that pushes boundaries since, she says, “there are plenty of venues for denial.” As Clemma also says, “We Vermonters are quiet but revolutionary.” Amen.

I read a snippet from The Therapist’s New Clothes. It went over quite well, with listeners chuckling and smiling over lines I chuckled and smiled over when I wrote them. As much as I appreciate it, getting laughs make me shy and I tend to read through the moment rather than milking it. Maybe I should get some coaching from actor friends.

I realized that I’ve posted photos of Brendan and tons—even repeats when I couldn’t resist—of Thembi but none of my husband. Here’s a shot of Tony in Israel, where you can see Syria in the background. Syria's not unknown turf for him. The last time he was in the Middle East he was part of a cultural diplomacy group through the U of Iowa International Writers Program, a whirlwind tour that included Israel and the West Bank, Syria, Jordon, Greece, and Turkey.Note the South African flag patch on his knee.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Literary Festival Alert

Just a quick note to say that the Manchester and the Mountains Poets and Writers Weekend looks to be a lot of fun, very low-key but with great workshops and mingling opportunities. Plus, it's reasonable and in a beautiful place. Hope to see you there!

Also, I have another piece about publishing with the Espresso Book Machine up on Huffington Post.

Here's a glimpse of spring in Vermont, a daffodil just unfurling its petals.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

That Was Fast!

The Therapist’s New Clothes is now an ebook. Smashwords has been much in publishing news lately for its deal with Apple’s new iPad. Despite the rush on Smashwords, the process of putting it up was straightforward, with no delays. When I expressed concern about the formatting, Mark Coker encouraged me to do it myself, saying, “it’s easier than you think”. Hmm...that sounded ominous. I did read through the style guide and took the formatting as far as I could. When I got stuck, I contacted Lucinda from the list of recommended format mavens, and she fixed it up promptly and quite reasonably. I am glad I forged through the style guide as far as I did as it helped me understand the strengths and weaknesses of the various formats, and made what had been a foreign language at least a little less foreign.

I haven’t spread the word and have yet to make a sale, but the sample (about 25 pages—or what would have been pages in the print version) has been downloaded five times. My initial excitement about this (wow—people can see it as an ebook!) quickly swerved into classic writer angst. Someone looked at it and didn’t buy it? Why not? Then I realized a couple of things: first of all, the whole point of the sample is to give someone a chance to read a bit of the book. Which takes time. The other is that it’s like flipping through a book in a bookstore. How often do I glance at a few pages and make a mental note about buying it later? Could you imagine if every book kept track of each time someone touched it and didn’t buy it? This is the game we’ve got now. The challenge is not to let it make you crazy.

In the spirit of serenity, here's Thembi, lord of all she surveys.