Thursday’s Pre-Publication Post: First Review Is In!

I received plenty of emails during my recent 10-day trip to Israel. Including two (one was a Google Alert) that let me know that the first review of my short-story collection, Quiet Americans, had been posted.

I have to admit that I was a bit frightened before I read the review, and was both relieved and humbled by the reviewer’s take: “an exceptional book of short stories examining morals, memory and remembrance, and personal conflicts and forgiveness.”

Go ahead–read the review for yourself!

Thursday’s Pre-Publication Post: Progress!

Back in June I wrote here about the necessary task of arranging events to help readers meet and get to know my soon-to-be-published short story collection, Quiet Americans. Lots of you shared sage advice in comments (and via backchannel), and I remain very grateful for that.

I’m happy to report that within the past week, I’ve scheduled the first post-publication event! I don’t want to say too much about it quite yet, because we’re still ironing out a couple of details, and I’m neurotic enough to think that if I start promoting this before the venue does it will somehow all fall apart, but suffice to say that if you’re going to be in D.C. area around the time of the Association of Writers & Writing Programs Conference in early February, you should consider yourself invited to a Sunday afternoon event (February 6)! More details to come.

Thursday’s Pre-Publication Post: Vistaprint to the Rescue!

New book. New website. New primary email address. Also, as it happens, new cell phone coordinates (finally parted with my original Massachusetts number). What was missing?

New business cards! And, while I was at it, new postcards for my blogs and the book.

Vistaprint to the rescue.

I spent quite a chunk of time last weekend on the Vistaprint site, selecting and editing designs for a new business card and postcards to promote both of my blogs: Practicing Writing and My Machberet (pictured). I’m still tweaking the postcard for Quiet Americans, but since I had already crossed the threshhold for free shipping, I went ahead and ordered the rest of the materials on Sunday. This way, they’ll arrive today (so the FedEx tracking system promises), and I can start putting them to use as soon as Sunday, when I’ll be attending the Jewish Authors’ Conference here in NYC.

I heart Vistaprint (even though they inundate me with emails and offers).

Thursday’s Pre-Publication Post: From Generation to Generation

One of the central themes that I’ve taken from my Jewish heritage is the concept of l’dor v’dor, transmitting our faith “from generation to generation.” The emphasis on l’dor v’dor may also have something to do with my soaking in and ruminating over the experiences of my paternal grandparents, events and circumstances in which so much of my story collection, Quiet Americans, is rooted. But this week, I was prompted to consider the forward-looking element of l’dor v’dor and its presence in the collection, and in my writing more broadly. This can be tricky, since I don’t have children of my own.

But it’s my great good fortune that my sister–we’re the only grandchildren on our father’s side–is the mother of two children. And I get to spend a  lot of time with my niece and nephew. They inspire me, too.

My niece’s influence has crept into one story pretty clearly: In “The Quiet American, Or How to Be a Good Guest,” I’ve essentially reconstructed a moment she and I shared in her babyhood. She’s embedded elsewhere as well, but I’d like to think I’ve handled matters a little more subtly in those pages and won’t say too much more about that now.

All of this is on my mind right now, I think, because The Christian Science Monitor has just published my poem, “Meteorology.” Although I’m quite aware that poetry need not reflect the poet’s lived experience, “Meteorology” is very much drawn from, once again, a moment shared with my niece.

What the poem doesn’t mention, however, is that during last week’s surprise storms here in New York City, my niece was the one who correctly diagnosed the hail that was shooting down from the sky. (I, with all my advanced degrees, objected: “That’s not hail!”)

Nor does the poem allude to one of my niece’s great-grandfather’s most endearing habits: Once I’d left home for college and beyond, and was living outside the metro New York area, he’d start his part of every phone conversation with the same question: “How’s the weather?” (Frankly, my father exhibits a keen attention to the daily forecast, too.)

L’dor v’dor, indeed.

Thursday’s Pre-Publication Post: News from My Publisher

Today’s post is not really about my book. Rather, I want to take a moment to share some news from my publisher, Last Light Studio, which has just announced the next title that will be published after my collection, Quiet Americans (which will be released in January 2011), and Jane Roper‘s novel, Eden Lake (coming in May). (Drumroll, please!)

Our books will be followed by a novel, The Edge of Maybe, by Ericka Lutz. The Edge of Maybe will be published in 2012, and it is being described as “a novel of possibility that encompasses both the sheer bigness and smallness — food, yoga, drinking, cooking, sex, self-cutting, parenting, motel-life, and finally going for broke — of middle class life at the edge of the 21st century.”

Congratulations to Ericka Lutz! She’s someone whose name I know from her Literary Mama bylines, and I’m happy to have her join our little Last Light Studio publishing family.

Thursday’s Pre-Publication Post: First Review Copies Out!

The big news this week is that there are tangible copies of Quiet Americans out there in the world.

There had to be.

You see, in order to be considered for pre-publication reviews in trade pubs like Publishers Weekly, you have to get copies in as early as four months ahead of publication. In the case of Publishers Weekly, for instance: “”Submissions must be sent (3) months–preferably (4)–prior to the 1st day of the month of publication.” For Quiet Americans, “preferably (4)–prior to the 1st day of the month of publication” was yesterday.

Galleys could have been made, but fortunately, finished copies are also acceptable. I say “fortunately” because galleys would have added another layer of expense that would have posed a significant strain given the newness and size of the press with which I’m working. And there’s no guarantee that any of the trade pubs we’ve contacted will review Quiet Americans, anyway.

In any case, there is now a (small) inventory of copies, most of which will be distributed to other review outlets in the near future. (Alas, everyone else will still have to wait until January!)
It’s a bit surreal to imagine my book showing up at Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Library Journal, and Kirkus. Surreal—and a little scary.