Thank you to the members who persevered to get into the meeting when I had a Zoom fail this month. On the plus side, we were a select group, which gave us a chance to talk things over. Feeling overwhelmed by the current situation seemed to be a theme, so it was nice to have something to celebrate.
I’m delighted to tell you that Rendezvous member Elizabeth Chatsworth‘s debut novel was featured on the cover of Publisher’s Weekly on August 31. Please support her by marking it as want-to-read on your Goodreads page, or better yet, pre-ordering. (It takes a village, folks!) It’s called The Brass Queen and is a great read. Check out the details including an excerpt at the link.
Here’s more information you may find of interest. Among other things, I will be running the Monday morning write-ins from 10-11:30ish indefinitely. So if you’ve had trouble concentrating, or sitting down to write, do not despair. Contact me for the … Continue reading →
Thanks to everyone who came to the Zoom meetings of our WritersMic and Writers’ Rendezvous this week. I was delighted to welcome some out-of-state members too. It’s one of the reasons I like Zoom and hope we’ll keep using it. Congratulations to member Libby Waterford, on the publication of her second novel in a series of four: Can’t Make you Love Me! There’s lots more to tell you, so here goes:
The Westport Library continues to add to its video series of author interviews, and this evening, August 20, from 7:30-8:30pm, bestselling authors Rea Frey and Hank Phillippi Ryan will discuss their newest books and the business of writing with book blogger Suzanne Leopold. Ryan is the award-winning author of many thrillers—the latest is The First to Lie. Rea Frey is the author of Not Her Daughter and Until I Find You. Hear their journeys of navigating the publishing world. Register here.
Frey also the Founder and CEO of Writeway, where ‘aspiring writers become published authors.’ There are three ways to engage: one-to-one book proposal creation and development for Nonfiction; one-to-one editorial forensics for Fiction; or a selection from a digital course catalog, covering everything from writing to branding to design. Explore the site for more details.
Gemini, and online literary magazine, is running a flash fiction contest with a word limit of 1000 and a deadline of August 31. There’s a $6 entry fee, which helps pay for the first prize of $1,000. (Second prize $100.) All finalists will be published online in the October 2020 issue. Open to any subject, style, or genre.
https://www.meetup.com/Norwalk-WordPress-Meetup We’re an online WordPress group hosting live speaking events on a range of WordPress topics. You can join us in our online live streams and eventually in-person events. Their first event is a virtual Meet & Greet on September 1 at 7pm.
Writer’s Digest’s 8th Annual Self-Published E-book Awards honors the best self-published e-book(s) in eight of the most popular categories with $5,000 in cash, a featured interview in Writer’s Digest magazine, and a paid trip to the ever-popular Writer’s Digest Annual Conference in New York City. In addition to $13,000 in total cash prizes, all entrants will receive a brief commentary on their work from one of Writer’s Digest’s judges. Entry fee $125. Deadline September 21.
Margaret Gibson, State of CT Poet Laureate, is inviting all poets who live in Connecticut to send poems to be considered for inclusion in an anthology funded by an Academy of American Poets Grant. The anthology will be published by Grayson Books in Hartford and will be released in time for Earth Day, 2021. Three Poems from poets of every racial and cultural background and experience are welcome: we all live on this earth together Deadline October 30. Click here for more information, and submission guidelines.
If you’re looking for reviews of your book(s), check out Story Origin, who will deliver eBooks for both ARC’s and contest prizes.
From Jane Friedman. Missing out on group writing time with friends? Take a look at Ohwrite for a tool to help you meet your writing goals by word sprinting online, alongside others. Still in beta and free. One thing to note – you write online, so you should remember to copy whatever you’ve done to a file of your own. But it’s a great way to get words on the page. If you’re not interested in word sprinting, but a coworking accountability partner, take a look at FocusMate instead. You sign in for 50 minutes with someone you probably don’t know, and all you do is write, or work from home or do your homework. Three sessions a week for free, and then you pay something.
We had an energizing meeting yesterday, with tales of successes, help sought and given, and goals set for the writing year. Several of us targeted getting published as something to work toward this year. To encourage you in achieving those goals, there are plenty of events and classes to inspire you around here.
Starting with a forum at the Pequot Library this Saturday, January 18, from 11-1pm. The topic is On Publishing and will feature Fairfield University’s MFA Director and author Sonya Huber and incoming MFA director, author and Fairfield University English professor Carol Ann Davis, as well as me. Come armed with questions and we’ll help you figure out how you can make 2020 your year to be published. Free.
Mary-Lou Weisman, bestselling author, personal essayist and memoir writer, offers an eight-week workshop at the Westport Library for those who have had some experience in writing memoir and personal essay, who want to improve their writing. Eight-week sessions begin on January 9 & 23, February 6 & 20, March 5 & 19, April 2 & 16. The classes take place every other Thursday, from 12:30-2:30pm and to be accepted, you need to submit a sample of your writing. For more information, contact Jennifer Keller. Class size is limited to 10. $15.
Among its many other offerings, The Westport Writers Workshop is offering eight Saturday workshops that you can take in your pajamas, using Zoom. It’s an easy-to-use free video conferencing program that allows for multiple participants, audio and video sharing, screen sharing, working on a whiteboard, and recording. Email WWW to ask about a free Zoom demo class that will help you get comfortable with how it works. The eight Zoom workshops run from January 25-March 28 and include this one from 10-12pm on January 25: Putting Your Best Foot Forward: Query Letters. It’s taught by editor Allison Dickens, and the workshop will discuss tactics for writing successful query letters. And you’ll get the chance to submit your query letter for critique.
As you can see, getting published is what it’s all about this month. The Storyteller’s Cottage in Simsbury CT is offering a series of workshops on getting traditionally published. Author Dawn Metcalf will share her experience publishing five young adult fantasy novels with Harlequin Teen, including Luminous and the four-book Twixt series. The sessions take place on Wednesdays from 10-12pm. They include How to Write a Query Letter, January 22, How to Pitch Your Work, January 29, and How to Actually Finish Your Manuscript on February 5. Cost: $45 per class. Other workshops include How to Become a Freelance Writer and one on reviewing theatre.
If you were published in 2019 and live in Connecticut, don’t forget to submit to The Connecticut Press Club’sannual Awards contest. To enter the contest, follow the directions on the contest site. The early deadline to submit entries — and avoid a one-time additional fee of $25 — is January 28. The final deadline for books is February 4 and the final deadline for all other entries is February 11. There are 61 categories including 17 just for writing (news, fiction, poetry, etc) and others for websites, blogs, design, advertising, PR and even speeches. Email CTContestDir@charter.net with questions about the contest. And email email@example.com you would like to be a judge.
Amy Oestreicher will be the featured speaker at an author luncheon at Bernard’s Restaurant in Ridgefield on January 30 at 12pm. Amy will read from her memoir, speak briefly during the prix fixe lunch ($35.00), and conduct a Q & A. Reservations: 203-438-8282.
The WestportWRITES program at the Westport Library is offering a free workshop entitled Sharpen Your Journalism Skills on Sunday, February 9 from 2-4pm. Using elements of lyric writing like hook, word choice and finding an angle, journalist Robin Chung will guide participants through a two-hour workshop with hands-on components that promises to bring fresh insight to the work of the journalist.
Best-selling author Jane Green (left) will be in conversation with memoirist Dani Shapiro on February 12 at 7pm at the Westport Library. They’ll be discussing Shapiro’s latest bestselling memoir, Inheritance. The evening will include audience Q&A and a post-conversation signing. Tickets: $40 for general admission seating, plus a copy of the book. Or $100 for a 6:00 p.m. pre-event VIP reception with Dani and Jane, special reserved seating at the front of the Forum, plus a copy of the book.) Purchase tickets here.
Part 2 will follow on Monday. Don’t forget to check out these and other events on the Writers’ Calendar page. And in the meantime – have a productive weekend!
November get-together began with a discussion of the recent election. Having got that off our collective chest, we agreed writing might be a way to deal with the situation. With that in mind, there’s plenty going on in the writing world.
First, I need to thank Kate Mayer for her great blog post about holding oneself accountable. She’s been writing a blog post a day throughout November as a challenge to herself, which I know she’s going to complete. She gives the Rendezvous some credit for helping her achieve her goals, and I know our meetings have something to do with it, because she’s not the only one. Reason enough to show up!
On December 16, the Fairfield Public Library will be hosting a one-day (9-5) panel, So You Want to Write a Children’s Book featuring Patricia Reilly Giff, Susan Hood, Susan Ross, Christine Pakkala and former workshop instructor Michaela MacColl, Rosemary Wells, Tony Abbott and about a dozen other top names in children’s publishing. Free, but you need to register.
If you’re writing for children, FCWS is offering a class beginning on December 2, Writing for Middle Graders and Young Adults. Taught by Nora Raleigh Baskin, the six classes will run for seven weeks (not on the 16th – see above) on Fridays, 12 – 2 p.m.
A propos, it’s time to sign up for new writing classes/workshops if you’re interested. All three Westport sources are offering them, so check them out here:
Byrd’s Books in Bethel runs a series of classes on writing by Judith Marks-White. The next one is on December 4, at 3pm, and costs $20. Email events@ByrdsBooks.com or call (203) 730-2973 for moe information.
The magazine Poets & Writers, is holding a conference: Inspiration, in San Francisco on January 14-15, 2017. (Feels strange to be moving into 2017 already…) It’s far from here, of course, but their line-up of speakers includes Juan Felipe Herrera; best-selling novelist and author of Purity, Jonathan Franzen; New Yorker staff writer and author of The Orchid Thief, Susan Orlean; acclaimed poet and former United States Poet Laureate Kay Ryan; writer and activist Ishmael Reed; and renowned poet Jane Hirshfield. And the Early bird registration (up to December 4) is only $175. You can’t beat that.
Creative Non-Fiction is calling for submissions on a variety of topics for upcoming issues. They include science and religion; adapting to new situations; real life Frankenstein stories; and stories for their new monthly True Story publication (one story of 5-10,00 words per issue).
Kate Mayer also told us about attending Bindercon, the conference and community for women and gender variant writers. (I feel very clued in just typing that.) It’s a bi-coastal conference, and Kate went to the NYC one at the end of October. There’s another in LA from April 1-2, if you’re in that neck of the woods. For more info about the organization and the conference, click here, or check their Facebook page.
Writers Read is taking place on Tuesday, December 6, at the Fairfield Public Library from 7-9. It will be the last one hosted by Alex McNab, so I’d love you to come, even if not to read, to say thanks to Alex for hosting it for so long. Because of the way the days fall in December, the Writers’ Salon will be ther eon the 2nd, from 4-6. Hope to see you there.
At the halfway mark for NaNoWriMo, I keep bumping into people who are giving it a go. I did mine a few years ago, and I recommend it as a great way to learn to write without self-censoring. When I printed out the first draft, I made a title page ‘Horrible First Draft’, which it was. But at least I had a novel to work on. Among the writers I’ve run into are Tessa McGovern, of the Fairfield County Writers’ Studio, who’s also helped organize a series of events for NaNo writers at the Westport Library – putting her money where her mouth is, I guess. She was right on schedule with her novel.
At a talk given by the redoubtable Alice Mattison on Thursday, I was able to encourage a poet who was writing a novel and had got to the ‘Oh my god, this will never work,’ stage. She looked a bit more cheerful after, I think.
And yesterday I met a 13-year-old, working on her second one, which according to her teacher, contains inappropriate material (underage drinking) and is too gory (vampires will do that…). Sounds good.
We had another great meeting on Wednesday, which brought up a number of new ideas – some about publishing. Here’s a blog post about why it’s a good idea to publish via Amazon. This article includes links to others which tell you how to format your file and give you suggested templates.
In upcoming events, on March 31st at 7pm, Write Yourself Free is sponsoring a free workshop with Victoria Sherrow on Writing for Kids. Please email Tish Fried at firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
Sisters in Crime, New England, are having a read-in (I invented that word. GC) on Saturday, April 16th from 1.30-3.30 at the Fairfield County Writers’ Studio in Westport. Connecticut mystery writers will be reading from their books and there’ll be a chance to mix and mingle with them afterwards. In the morning, the FCWS will offer a writing workshop called Mystery 101 from 9.30am-noon.
For some reason, we had quite a discussion about writing poetry. It turns out there are a number of places where poets can meet others and get feedback. One of our Meetup members, Rona, sent me information about the regular meeting on Tuesday nights (7.30pm) at Curley’s Diner in Stamford. One of our regulars, Leslie Chess Feller, wondered whether the group would consider light verse as poetry (see my interview with her here)
The Bigelow Senior Center in Fairfield is the location for a Poets’ Roundtable every first and third Thursday of the month at 1pm. The gentle critique group is run by Emerson Gilmore.
And Garrison Keillor is offering five thousand dollars in prize money to the seven winners of “‘Poems of Gratitude: The Fourth Annual Common Good Books Poetry Contest. Submissions due by April 15th, only one poem per person, guidelines here.
Sophronia Scott is organizing a series of readings by Connecticut writers (not an open mic) at the C.H. Booth Library in Newtown CT. The next one is May 1st from 2-4pm and she already has some good authors lined up. It’s a good chance to meet published writers and ask them about their work.
The Westport Writers’ Workshop is now taking registrations for their Spring workshops here.
Writer’s Relief has an email newsletter you might find interesting. It includes submission listings as well as interesting articles on publishing, editing etc.
Meeting regular, Jacque Masumian, sent me details of her newly published short story “Out of the Park,” now available in the January issue of the on-line journal Still Crazy , only until the end of March. She explained that the download costs $4 payable through Paypal, so if you have a Paypal account and can manage it, please take a look. She’d love some feedback. My question is: Who gets the $4? I hope it’s Jacque.
Bernice Rocque sent details of Carol Bodensteiner’s blog post about her advertising experience with Book Bub which resulted in her second book being picked up by Lake Union, Amazon’s traditional publishing company. Bernice commented that she thinks they rarely agree to promote newly published books. But the article is fascinating because the author gives you actual numbers of books sold, money made etc. Sounds like good value to me.
Ed Ahern, our most avid submissions guy (and therefore the most frequently published), mentioned that Duotrope now has listings for podcasts you can submit your mp3 files to. Sounds interesting (geddit?). He is also reading for Bewildering Stories, which is looking for flash fiction (defined as up to 1,000 words). Submit here
Kate Mayer talked about Listen To Your Mother, a storytelling production that
takes the audience on a well-crafted journey that celebrates and validates mothering through giving voice to motherhood–in all of its complexity, diversity, and humor–in the form of original readings performed live on-stage by their authors. (I didn’t write that, BTW. GC) Cities and auditions are usually announced Dec/January and auditions are February, so the shows are decided for this year, but it’s something to keep in mind. .
And here, in a burst of shameless self-promotion (I’m quoting her, here), is the video of Kate from the 2012 NYC performance.
With the rise of self-published books, it’s hard to know which books are worth buying. So when I find one I think is excellent in its class, I like to give them and their authors a shout-out. One such is Monster In My Lunchbox, an illustrated book of family-focused rhyme. The poems are by Leslie Chess Feller and the illustrations by her late sister, Shelley. I asked Leslie how the book came about and her answers were quite unexpected. Read on to find out why.
GC: Can you tell us something about the book? LCF:Monster In My Lunchbox is a collection of light verse that celebrates family. It includes simpler poems for early readers and others for kids in elementary school and beyond. But it’s also for Moms, Dads, Grandmas and Grandpas. I like to say that anyone who has ever been a kid will get a laugh out of these poems. They are meant for the whole family to enjoy together. Here’s a sample:
SCHOOL DAYS, RULE DAYS …
Bells ring! Books slam!
Papers shuffle! Yes, Ma’am!
Raise your hand! Get in line!
Hurry up to be on time!
Quiet please! Do your work!
Don’t be idle! Do not shirk!
Reading, writing, number stuff …
Sometimes I’ve had quite enough.
Even when I’m pleased as punch,
I think my favorite subject’s lunch
GC: How long have you been a poet? LCF: I grew up in Brooklyn, NY, the second of five siblings. My sister Shelley, older by 15 months, was the alpha sibling and with three younger brothers there was never a dull moment. Our father was a physician who loved the poet Ogden Nash. Whenever he had something to say to our mother, a psychologist, he would do it with a clever Ogden Nash-ian rhyme. And my mother would rhyme right back.
Leslie (L) and Shelley
You could tell anybody anything in my family, even our father, if you did it with a poem. Every occasion became a poetic roast. Like my siblings, I began to rhyme as soon as I could write. So when my daughter Dania brought home Shel Silverstein’s A Light in the Attic in the fourth grade, I looked at it and said, “I can do that.”
GC: How did you get your first poems published? LCF: In 1985, a few of my Kidstuff poems ran in a local newspaper and attracted the attention of editors at a Westport, CT, magazine, Profiles. As soon as I found out they wanted me to do a monthly column and were open to me bringing in an illustrator, I called Shelley. By then, she was the world’s best middle school science teacher. But as a student, she used to get in a lot of trouble for cartooning all over her schoolwork. “Hey, Shelley,” I said. “I’m getting these poems published! Maybe you could do some cartoons?”
GC: Did you continue to publish poetry? LCF: I did two other light verse columns for Profiles. Both Rhyme or Reason and Poetic License won Connecticut Press Club awards, but ran without illustrations. Soon my editors started assigning me articles which put my writing career on a different track. I went from local articles to the New York Times to national magazines as a freelance journalist for almost thirty years. Writing in light verse became something I enjoyed doing for family events.
GC: What made you decide to publish your poems now?
Leslie (L) and Shelley
LCF: This book is also a celebration of a very special sisterhood. Over decades, my sister and I cheerfully perfected the art of never, ever agreeing with each other – except that we didn’t want to fight. Agreeing to disagree was our solution, the catalyst for what became an extraordinary friendship. Shelley died of leukemia two years ago. It was a terrible loss.
Six months afterwards, I was standing in my living room feeling very black. For no reason, I opened a cabinet door. Something fell on the floor in front of me. It was a xerox copy of fifty of my poems with fifty illustrations done by my sister. I had forgotten ever writing them. The fifteen Kidstuff poems in my writer’s portfolio were what I remembered. But at some point, decades ago, I had given more to Shelley and she had chosen to illustrate them.
I felt her right beside me. “Publish these,” Shelley said. The words were sweet. I threw everything out of that cabinet in a mad search for the pen and ink cartoons. Eventually I found 110 of my poems, each with the perfect cartoon. My sister and I disagreed about everything, but clearly we shared the same sense of humor. Monster In My Lunchbox is a collaboration that includes eighty of my favorites.
GC: How are you promoting your book? LCF: Monster In My Lunchbox was published in November, 2015.
The website is http://www.monsterinmylunchbox.com On the website, you can listen to me read the title poem. Then click links to videos of other poems in the collection.
And I’ve been giving talks and readings at libraries, and for parent groups among others.
You can see the promotional video here. And to connect with Leslie, follow her on Facebook or Google +, and Vimeo where you’ll find links to more videos.
The book is available from Blurb.
In addition to writing a regular blog, Lisa Winkler is the author of On the Trail of the Ancestors, A Black Cowboy’s Ride Across America. She’s also the editor of a new anthology of writing by women called Tangerine Tango (yes, of course I’m in it!) and I was impressed with the energy and dedication she brought to putting the project together, so I asked her about it.
GC: Congratulations on publishing Tangerine Tango. Is this the first book you’ve produced?
LW: Thanks, Gabi! I’m so proud of the book. This is my second book. On the Trail of the Ancestors: A Black Cowboy’s Ride Across America was published last February. That is a very different book than Tangerine Tango. It tells the journey of a teacher I met from Newark, NJ who rode his horse from New York to California to honor the contributions of African-Americans to US history.
Tangerine Tango is a collection of essays and poems by 12 women writers.
GC: Tell me something about how you found your authors.
LW: Most of the writers I have befriended through blogging and I asked them to contribute. By reading and commenting on each others’ blogs I feel as if I have all these wonderful friends!
GC: The book is attractive looking. Did you design it yourself, or did you have help?
LW: I had help. I am so lucky to have met Solveig Marina Bang. She is a designer and copy editor, based in India, who turns my word documents into art! We go back and forth debating grammar as well as design. She created 9 covers for me to select from—I loved this one immediately.
GC: Which parts of the publishing process did you handle yourself? (ISBN numbers, editing, etc)
LW: I have self-published with CreateSpace, Amazon’s publishing company. They assign the ISBN. I edited the essays and shared the edits with the writers. Then Marina and I pored through the entire document scores of times, and the writers proofread it too. I think there were over 20 drafts before it was ready to submit for publication.
GC: Was publishing the book pretty straightforward?
LW: Well the paperback was unavailable for a few days because of some glitch between Amazon and CreateSpace. In order to solve the formatting problems I had to wait for them to fix the issues with the Amazon paper copies. People who ordered from CreateSpace directly weren’t affected, but it was a nuisance from a promotional point of view. On the bright side, while it was unavailable, Amazon was advertising used copies for $999!
GC: Is the problem cleared up now?
LW: Yes, thankfully, and it’s been selling well.
GC: What piece of advice would you give to other indie authors looking to publish?
LW: It’s a risk and investment. There are tons of paper books being published both traditionally and self-published. Then there are eBooks. There’s a lot of competition. Don’t expect to make fast money. There’s no guarantee even if you’re traditionally published. GC: Would you be prepared to do it again? Is volume 2 in the works, for example, or do you have something different on the horizon?
LW: I’d love to do this again! It would be another title; maybe with themes, maybe not. I’d love to double the size of the book and the number of authors. I think I’ll wait at least a year though to see how this one does, and if I do another book, I want to research other companies.
One of my more popular posts recently was the one about authors’ blog tours. After reading it, James Tenedero, a Canadian author, asked me if I’d be prepared to host him when he organized his blog tour today. James is from Montreal, but has traveled extensively in Europe, as you’ll find out when you read his book, The Consistency of Parchment, a thriller. You can find out more about his background at the bottom of this post.
Since this is James’ first novel, I wanted to know how, exactly, he arrived at a finished, published work. I was interested in the process from first concept through editing to self-publishing. I think you will be ,too.
GC: I can see from the book that you’ve traveled in Europe a great deal. Did you live there once? And, – a couple more questions: What gave you the idea for this novel, and why all the train trips?
JT: I have studied in Copenhagen, and I also lived in Budapest for a short time. The idea for the novel really originated during my stay in Hungary. At the time, in 2003, the transition from Communist rule to democracy was already well underway, but I was still struck by the lack of severe Soviet-era architecture and customs; while there were traces of this past, much of that history seemed to have been swept out of view.
I started to consider the idea that we relate to the past in a very visceral way through the symbols and artifacts that we encounter in our daily lives. This is really the key underlying theme of the book, from which I then developed the storyline involving Cal, Kendra, and their journey to discover the contents of the safe deposit box for which Kendra possesses the key.
The frequent train trips in the book were based on my own travels throughout Europe. I used these episodes as a way to develop the bond between Cal and Kendra, and to flesh out the details of their motivations without impeding the narrative arc or the pace of the story.
GC: Once you had your ‘final’ draft, who edited it?
JT: I edited the book myself. Although I don’t have the skill set of a professional editor, I did work as a proofreader for a federal government agency for several years – so I have some sense of what to look for. Ultimately, I decided that the person best able to tell the story was me. So it seemed to make sense for me to write and edit the book myself. I’m a big proponent of the desk-drawer approach to editing: finish the draft of your manuscript, set it aside for a few weeks, and then come back to it with a set of fresh eyes.
GC: When you decided to publish, where did you start? I assume you had a Word document, but what happened next?
JT: Since I had made a decision to publish with Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, I followed the template provided in their Building Your Book for Kindle guide, which is available online for free download here. I formatted the manuscript accordingly, added hyperlinks for the Table of Contents so that readers could easily navigate through the book on their Kindle, and then uploaded the full document for sale on the Amazon website.
GC: Who designed the cover and layout?
JT: As with the editing, I selected the cover art and designed the front cover. (You can probably tell that I like to exercise a good deal of control over the way that my writing is presented, and with The Consistency of Parchment I was an unabashed monopolist from conception of the story to sale of the book!). The photograph is taken from a cemetery in Manchester, England, which I visited earlier this year, and I experimented with several different fonts before settling on the text that you see here. I’m happy with the overall result, and I’ve already had some very complimentary feedback in this vein from potential readers!
GC: Where is it available?
JT:Although there are certainly many options for authors looking to make their books available on the Web, I chose Amazon because of the popularity of the site. I wanted to ensure that I had the largest possible audience for my work, and Amazon provides me with this opportunity. Another nice feature of their publishing model is that you’re essentially unrestricted in terms of the potential volume of sales you can realize. You publish online, your book is automatically listed by Amazon, and your ultimate success is dependent on the quality of the product (as determined by the readers and reviewers, not by literary agents or publishing houses) and the amount of effort you devote to marketing it.
GC: When you sent me a review copy (thank you) it was in MOBI format. Can you tell us why you chose that format?
JT: I chose MOBI as my format because of its simplicity and inexpensiveness. An author can use freely available software such as Mobipocket Creator to convert a manuscript into MOBI. Also, these files are fully compatible with the Kindle, which of course was an important consideration for me!
GC: I opened my copy using Calibre, and then transferred it to my Kindle Fire. Am I right in thinking that this only works for free copies?
JT: Although I haven’t used Calibre myself, my understanding of the tool is that it works for both free and paid copies.
GC: So if people want to buy it, how much does it cost, and where can they find it?
JT: The Consistency of Parchment is currently on sale for $2.99 on the Amazon web site. Since my book is included in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, Amazon Prime members can obtain it for free. Also, the familiar ‘Look Inside’ feature allows readers to sample the first couple of chapters before deciding whether to purchase the book.
Thank you for hosting me and allowing me to speak about my work! I would invite your readers to follow me on Twitter (@jamestenedero), connect with me on Goodreads, and Like my Facebook author page. I’m always interested in hearing from other authors and readers, so feel free to get in touch with me through any of these channels.
I hope you enjoy the book, and I welcome your feedback and comments.
James Tenedero is a Montreal author, PhD student, (sometime) adventurer, and (unrepentant) bibliophile. After stints in corporate finance and management consulting, James answered the call of academia: he is currently enrolled in PhD studies at McGill University with the hopes of eventually securing his place in the ivory tower. When he’s not writing fiction, James can be found in his office researching organizational innovation and writing non-fiction. The Consistency of Parchment is his first full-length novel
Lisa Winkler is the author of On the Trail of the Ancestors, A Black Cowboy’s Ride Across America. It’s the story of Miles Dean, a Teacher from New Jersey, who rode his horse from New York to California to celebrate the contributions African Americans had made in the settling of the United States. I first came across her through her blog, and decided to interview her about the book, in particular because I wanted to know more about how Lisa became a published writer.
GC: Could you give us a brief summary of your writing career?
LW: I worked as a newspaper reporter and magazine journalist for years. When I became a teacher, I continued to write for professional journals and have had study guides published for Penguin Books. I write now for Education Update and have assignments for JerseyMan Magazine.
GC: Your latest book, On the Trail of the Ancestors, is about a black ‘cowboy’ riding across the USA on a horse. It’s an unusual topic, to say the least, particularly since it’s non-fiction. How did you come across the story? And what made you decide to write about it?
LW: I met Miles Dean while I was working as a literacy consultant in Newark, NJ. He taught at one of the schools I visited. As a teacher, I’ve witnessed how little young people know of history. In urban areas, youth learn about slavery and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and a few more facts during Black History Month. Yet they have little if any connection with these historical figures. When I began my own reading after meeting Miles, I became fascinated with these people whose contributions to the development of the US are largely unknown. Most adults haven’t heard of these people. American history needs to include all races and genders to truly demonstrate who built this nation, their struggles and sacrifices and stories. From my research, I couldn’t find any records of other African Americans who have ridden a horse across the country with this purpose in mind. A cross- country journey is a story in itself. I loved the idea of Miles growing up watching western movies and television shows and dreaming that he too could become a cowboy.
GC: My readers are always interested in the process of writing and publishing. Can you tell us what was involved in researching and writing this book?
LW: I read a lot of books that I found in libraries or bought. These included biographies, geography and books about horses. I consulted maps and also interviewed some of scholars Miles met on his journey. I pored through the Internet. I read Miles’ website and transcribed the podcasts he did for the Star-Ledger and interviews he conducted with people he met. I spent hours and hours interviewing Miles.
GC: And what was your publishing process? Who edited the book? How did you decide on pricing, design etc?
LW: I nearly quit a few times. I submitted to about 100 agents before deciding to self-publish. I researched the self-publishing companies and chose CreateSpace. For the most part, it was efficient. I hired a book designer who also is a copy editor and that is crucial to anyone considering self-publishing. We’d exchange emails six times a day, debating proper grammar usage, sentence structure, etc. I priced it low as an eBook – $2.99 – and played around with the paperback price. $12.95 seemed fair for the size of the book.
GC: How can readers find you? Are you available to give talks?
LW: Yes! I’d love to talk about the book to any groups, bookstores and libraries that will have me. I’m available to present the book to all ages, and especially to educators who will use the book in their classrooms. The study guide gives a range of activities, including writing, literature, drama, math, geography, and research topics. It is available via my website. Readers can reach me via my website, and the book is available in all formats from Amazon etc)