Tag Archives: publishing

The Fun-Fair Ride to Publication – Part 3

The countdown is really on now.
In just over six weeks, I will no doubt be frantically running around checking on last minute details as I prepare to reveal my ‘baby’ 8 States of Catastrophe to anywhere between 50 and 100 guests. It is a nerve-wracking thought but also extremely exciting.
I’m getting bogged down with questions about how much champagne to order (as my friends will testify, I’ve always had a problem knowing when enough champas is enough!) or whether to have cocktail sized napkins or full ones.
Then I tell myself to stop being a control freak and for once in my life just go with the flow. Come to think of it, perhaps ‘control’ is one of the reasons I became a writer. Fiction writing is the perfect pastime: creating characters, designing worlds, altering life courses with a few deft keystrokes.
Orange! I wonder if I can find some orange napkins.
Many of the invited guests are friends and rellies but there are also quite a few who wouldn’t know me if I stood beneath my name spelled out by a string of flashing neon letters, so I have taken some time to write a few notes explaining a snippet of my background or a bit about the book to give those people an idea of why they should be interested in attending my pre-launch celebrations.
Dry or sweet, do you think?
I have just received an email from my publisher assuring me, once again, that books will be airfreighted to Hobart in plenty of time for the big night. Reading between the lines, I think both the publisher and the project manager might be saying: ‘for god’s sake, would you just relax!’
Cocktail-sized napkins, for sure. Plenty big enough. Yellow or white?
Amidst all the excitement and the preparations, I have managed to continue working on my next project. The first draft of the latest novel – the name of which tradition forbids me from uttering by lip or pen – is almost complete…but I digress…again. Where was I? Ah yes, napkins and champagne.
Oh who cares? A square of tissue and something in a glass with bubbles. Perfect!

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Road to Publication Part 2

          I almost called it the Highway to Publication, given that the speed has [finally] picked up but I reminded myself that there is still a way to go.
          My book now has a cover, designed by one David Khan, a man I have never met which is probably quite common but feels strange nevertheless.             
          Then again, neither have I met Paul Bugeja, the editor who laboured over a period of quite a few months to hunt down and weed out those annoying little errors that all writers probably make but have difficulty isolating.
          But I digress…today, I am sitting in my little “word factory” having torn off the writerly cloak of fiction, trying on the far more constraining outfit of the marketing-savvy journalist as I prepare information for a media kit.
          It feels more than a little strange immersing myself once more into the life of MV (the motorcycle riding poet of ‘8 States of Catastrophe’), given that I had consciously had to sweep him out of my head a year and a half ago in order to move on to my next project.  I never really left him behind though; not totally.  Every couple of months I’ve had to delve back into the story to consider a suggested revision, delete a passage, add a word.  And then sometimes I’d get lost in the story again, with MV and his dog Rider and all those mysterious coincidences and it was such hard work knowing when to take a deep breath and accept that the manuscript was done.
          It is difficult for writers who have spent at least months but usually years tied up in solitary confinement with their characters to suddenly be ‘outed’ and required to speak coherently and at length about their work.
          But that is exactly what I need to do now, and it all starts with the launches.
          I am excited to have scored a great location for the Tasmanian pre-launch celebration in late January.  Thanks to the Hobart City Council, we have what appears to be the perfect venue: The Mawson Waterfront Pavilion.  
          Hobart is first on my agenda for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it was where I was born and raised. 
          The guest list is half complete (thanks to my Mum and my sister Tammy and the stylishly savvy Isabella Marlowe-Thompson-Thomson [aka Susan]). Flights are booked, accommodation arranged (thanks again Tam) and the invitations are ready for printing.  
          Finger food…tick.  
          Background music…tick.  
          Someone to make a speech…tick (thanks to my dear friend Keith Mogg [aka Alan])
          Wine…working on it.
          Books…Ayeeee!  I can only keep everything crossed and hope they arrive on time!

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The Road to Publication

          In retrospect, I should have started this diary a long time ago – when my manuscript was first slated for publication.
          I guess, like many a writer, I live inside a little bubble.  We writers quietly write for months on end, usually in almost solitary confinement, the clickety clack of the keyboard forming a kind of background track to the universes we create.  We ‘connect’ virtually: with our e-buddies (usually other writers who are also alone in their wordsmith towers), with experts who help us with our research and, occasionally, with distant loved ones.
          Eventually, we package up our forest of paper and send it out into publishing-land.  We weather the rejections (some of us make wallpaper with them, some compost the garden) and – eventually – we try to stop thinking about our ‘baby’ out there in the world trying to impress publishers with its style and panache and we begin work on our next project.
          Then, joy of joys, it seems our manuscript has managed to impress.  We do another check of it, pretty it up a little, and hand it over to the publisher.
          What did I expect would happen next?

          Abracadabra…A Book!

          Knock knock.
          ‘Who’s there?’
          ‘Ahem. Reality’. 

          The reality to which I refer is made up of typos and spelling errors, of to-ing and fro-ing between editor and author debating the subtle nuances of a sentence, a phrase and – yes  goddammit – a word.
          It’s a reality filled with misunderstandings and misgivings, minor tanties, excitement, tears, fright, pride, vacillations and confidence kickers.
          But finally, the manuscript is deemed complete.  Paperwork is signed.  There are sighs all ‘round.
          But wait, there’s more…
          There’s fonts and designs and cover art and blurbs and bios and decisions, decisions, decisions.  For someone who has trouble deciding on fish or chicken at a restaurant, someone whose friends constantly order for her because they can’t stand the waiting or the anxiety; presenting me with options is a big no-no.
          I am thrilled to say though that my humble story ‘8 States of Catastrophe’ is now almost a book.  I have seen a proof of its cover. 
          But my journey to seeing the book in stores and having it ‘walk off the shelves’ is a long way from over, as I trip into yet another universe.
          The Publicity Universe I am soon to enter has a different reality altogether.
          It means talking about oneself, about one’s body of work (no matter how slender), putting one’s actual physical self out there (no matter how ‘not-slender’), being articulate – instantly – via the mouth, rather than leisurely by keyboard (with the aid of dictionary, thesauri, library and internet).
          Oh well, this is what I have been waiting for.  There is nothing for it but to dive in ‘boots and all’.
          I’ll keep you posted…

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Leonard Cohen Concert Review

Absolute front row.  Almost dead centre.  Brisbane Entertainment Centre.  

An eerie hush is broken by thunderous ear-splitting applause as he appears.  The seventy-six-year-old ‘Ladies Man’, is down on bended knee singing Dance me to the End of Love and I wonder momentarily if I have drifted into a parallel – and absolutely perfect – universe.

Age has not wearied the man with the golden voice and he still oozes sex appeal from the tips of his toes to his rakishly perched hat. The drooped corners of his wise and somewhat sad eyes evoke a sense of mystery, while his rare smiles reveal a child-like mischievousness.   

He is accompanied on stage by top-notch musicians and back-up singers, yet nothing surpasses the sound of him alone, dragging notes from the gravelly sole of his boot and broadcasting them from his lofty window in The Tower of Song.  His recitation of A Thousand Kisses Deep reminded us that a poet of such magnitude needs no accoutrements.

The poignancy of Suzanne with her ‘tea and oranges’ and her ‘rags and feathers from salvation army counters’  had me watching Leonard through a gauze of tears as his poetic fingertips soothed my soul.  And when he sang I’m your Man, I sighed ‘oh yeah’, along with thousands of other concert-goers.

We Cohen fans came to Boondall with one thing on our minds – Leonard – so it was with considerable finesse that Clair Bowditch, as support act, bewitched the crowd with her sweet-and-sultry lyrics and soft bluesy voice.

I had the pleasure of meeting up with a couple of LC forum fans and was presented with a very official-looking lanyard by Dean from Adelaide which I happily wore with pride. Dean is spending a huge chunk of time, not to mention a considerable fist-full of cash, to attend a heap of concerts.  You can follow his progress at lcdownunder2010.

Life, as they say, is full of regrets.  I thought I would forever live with the regret of missing out on the Leonard Cohen experience when I failed to get tickets in 2009.  I never dreamed I would get a second chance.  So now I have one less regret to pack into life’s suitcase and my baggage feels all the lighter for it.

Mr Cohen may have left the building but I for one will never forget him.

PostScript:  My novel, 8 States of Catastrophe, is due for release in January 2011 and will be distributed by Pan Macmillan.  Fans of Leonard Cohen may enjoy it for its references to the great man and his lyrics.  I’ll post launch details as soon as they come to hand.  If you would like to go into the draw to win a signed copy of the book, please complete the survey.

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Countdown to Cohen: No. 3

Well, the year might not have turned out quite as well as expected with the release date for 8 States of Catastrophe still not set in stone (we are talking January but the publisher can’t confirm the date). 
           But, hey, the year isn’t over yet.  As of posting time, there are just 34,143 minutes before Leonard’s Brisbane concert. 
           It keeps a smile on my dial.

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Countdown to Cohen and My Publishing Adventures

Well, this year is turning out to be an absolute corker!
          Last year, a cloud of indigo descended upon me when I was unable to see Leonard Cohen in concert in Australia.  With a strangely defeatist attitude, I resigned myself to missing out on ever seeing him ‘in the flesh’ and, after a period of mourning, I gathered up the threads of my dignity and reminded myself that the world was full of starving and neglected children, oppressed women, and tortured men. 
          Now, I am on cloud 1,099 after scoring presale front-row platinum tickets to the Brisbane leg of Leonard’s 2010 world tour (and I bow my thank you to the almighty VISA).


So it seems I have two momentous count-downs happening simultaneously. 
          The world of book publishing being what it is, the publication date for my novel is still somewhat fluid but I live in hope that it will before the inimitable ‘poet of our age’ graces our shores again. 
          Why?  Because Mr Cohen – and particularly his song Suzanne – provides the ‘soundtrack’ to a section of my novel and it just makes perfect sense in my strange little ‘perfect bubble of a world’ that I should watch my first Cohen concert as a fully-fledged published author.
          I’d love to hear your thoughts on Leonard Cohen.  Anyone got a concert experience to whet my appetite?
          At the time of publishing this post, I am counting down the months until my novel hits the bookstores but at least I can confidently say that in 135 days Leonard Cohen will command the stage in Brisbane and I will be there inRow AA.   

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BLURB…BLURB…BLURB. What Works?

As time creeps ever so slowly toward my manuscript [finally] being turned into a novel, the question of what makes us choose a book becomes much more than a passing interest. 
     So I thought I’d combine my search for answers with a new-found ability to add a poll button to my posts and ask all you book-buyers [and borrowers] to choose which of the following blurbs [randomly picked from my bookshelves but with an eye for different styles] most hits the mark.
     There may be other bits and pieces on the inside, etc. but I have concentrated just on what is on the back cover because I figure that’s mostly what we read first when considering a purchase.
     If you feel like adding a comment about why something does or does not work, please do.  But don’t forget to vote.

 BLURB STYLE #1  – What the Story is About.   
The China Garden by Kristina Olsson

Over two hot weeks one summer, cracks emerge in the veneer of a small coastal town.
When a newborn baby is found abandoned in a backyard, this dramatic event pierces the lives of three very different women.  Laura has returned home for her mother’s funeral after years in exile, only to discover her upbringing was based on a lie; elderly Cress, the moral compass of the community, conceals her own vices; while young Abby walks the streets, her bruises wrapped in baggy clothes.  But it is gentle Kieran, an unlikely guardian, who knows their secrets and watches over them.
As their lives collide, what is buried can no longer remain hidden.  The China Garden is a captivating story about betrayal and its echoes across generations.

 BLURB STYLE #2 – Reviews Only.                    
Away by Amy Bloom

Advance praise for Away
‘Raunchy, funny, and touching.  Away is an elegant window into the perils of invention and reinvention in New York in the twenties.  Amy Bloom’s heroine, Lillian, Is an unforgettable young woman’  Caryl Phillips
‘A book full of tender wisdom, brawling insight, sharp-edged humour and – if it’s possible – a lovely, wayward precision.  Amy Bloom has created an unforgettable cast of characters’  Colum McCann
‘It’s such a strong vibrant story, brittle with its underlying tragedy, and fascinating for the pieces of history it reveals along the way’ Georgina Harding
Away grabs you by the throat from the first page to the last, breaks your heart and shakes all your senses awake’ Emma Donoghue

 BLURB STYLE #3 – Excerpt + One Line Grab + Review Quotes  
Galax-Arena by Gillian Rubinstein

All the suffering and pain of their lives was cancelled out by the beauty and courage of the performers.  I understood for a moment why they put their entire being into the performance even though they were being used like slaves and animals.  In the Galax-Arena, they were free.
Confronting and stunningly original, Galax Arena challenges our way of thinking about the world.
‘Innovative, provocative, effortlessly ethical and utterly convincing … a brilliant book.’  Katharine England, Advertiser (Adelaide)
Galax-Arena is chillingly real … A first rate thriller that will leave readers hoping for a sequel.’ Booklist (USA)

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