Monday, September 19, 2016

Second #Book--Or, Why I Am Having Trouble Getting My #Promotional Ass In Gear

Listen, I'm the one who whined for years and years about not being able to get my books published, and now here I am on the verge of publishing book number two, a linked collection of stories I wrote quite some time ago, I must admit to a little ennui. Mice: Have no sympathy, empathy or compassion for me. You can even stop reading right here if you are rolling my eyes at my stupid feelings. I am, however, going to discuss this issues as a human phenomenon, which is really no excuse, more like a sociological/psychological anecdote of the crazy that is my head.
     Here's what I propose: When you put so much of your professional worth into a single novel and a follow-up book of short stories, and then try for a decade or so to get someone (anyone!) interested in publishing it, you probably cannot achieve the kind of results that will live up to the weight of your career hopes and dreams. (I use professional and career to also stand for identity and self worth, unfortunately.) This is not to say that I am disappointed in the results of the novel; I was in People Magazine as a pick of the week with Stephen King and Annie Lamott, for shit's sake. It's just that somehow I thought it would all amount to so much more, or a different me, or something. And so approaching the launch of book number two (pub date: this November), I am finding it hard to make such a huge investment. Is that wrong? Of course it is, but I don't think anything will really do what I want it to do. I need a spiritual awakening or a spiritual practice or something that does for me what a published book will not.  Anyway, just thought I'd share.  I will get my ass and gear and this too will pass. Just seems kind of ironic to feel this way after all the LROD complaining, right? Well, maybe it's just today. At least it is raining in the Northeast; we need it for the trees and gardens.
     Life never ceases to amaze, does it?

Saturday, September 3, 2016

What Does This #Librarian Actually Think? #Literary #Book #Review #Assistance Needed, Please!

I got my first review for Pretend I'm Your Friend from Kirkus Reviews, always so prompt and proper. I love me some librarian brains, and this is a very intelligent, thoughtful, evocative review, so I am grateful. The only thing is that there's not really a single extractable blurb in there, and, you know, it makes you wonder if those discerning librarian reviewers go out of the way to avoid giving a compliment, which of course, the publisher is looking to use for the back of the book. Though, really, people, since when is it about compliments; why must I fall prey to the capitalist mind-set of wanting only to sell books. I mean, we strive to have our work taken seriously, collected in the great halls and libraries of this great nation, not to have our egos stroked, right? Right.

Therefore, I submit to the mice nest, The Review for your consideration. Would this review make you want to read the book, buy the book, or see it on your library's shelf? Also, compare it, please, to this review, which did have one good word about the craft, namely "polished."

Okay, but anyway, who am I to judge?  You, please, be the judge, for me, if you will, micycles, so that I will know what to think:
Kirkus Review: Pretend I'm Your Friend
Short stories that frequently touch on endings—of love, relationship bonds, even life itself—link back to one another in surprising ways in this collection.

In “People Say Thank You,” Violet’s gift of extrasensory perception carries surprising consequences. During an argument with her husband she blurts out, “Oh, go to Georgia,” without knowing she’s essentially sanctioned his affair. “Hands of God” follows two friends on a vacation; Helena hopes to distance herself from her boyfriend’s affair with another couple, while A.J.’s attempt to get lost in a one-night stand only reminds her of an inescapable past. Caschetta (Miracle Girls, 2014) sets scenes in one story that evolve in later ones. A family makes complicated arrangements to bring a dying man to a wedding only to become stranded in a snowstorm in “Alice-James’s Cuban Garlic”; what’s known about their history turns out to be only a small piece of the story, revealed during the ceremony in “Marry Me Quickly.” Another pairing begins with a woman’s cancer diagnosis and the shameful wishes it inspires; later, the same character is in hospice, and it’s her family’s reactions as she dies that shape the story. Dialogue between characters is seamless in its realism, heightening the tension in uncomfortable exchanges. “A Line of E.L. Doctorow” traces Lorena’s emotional journey from betrayal to jealousy as her husband makes a move on the nanny she’s grown possessive toward; the couple use the children as chess pieces or forget them altogether, and the terse exchanges between the points in this triangle are chilling.

The confrontations and losses can be gutting, but the ways they tie to one another create a strengthened bond among the survivors; there’s hope amid the ruins created here.

                                                                                                           --Kirkus Reviews

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

A #Retrospective on #Blogging, Or Why All These #Literary #Rejections Are Important

Something occurred to me this morning: totes random, for sure, but still worth sharing. For years on this blog, smart alecks from all corner of the InterWebs told me that I should stop blogging (read: complaining, moaning, bitching, and whining) and get back to writing my opus. The sentiment behind the dig was: "Why do you spend ALL this time blogging when you COULD BE writing."  I consistently rebuffed the implied insult by saying, "I spend plenty of time writing, thank you." And in truth, I am always writing to deadline for my paid consulting gig as a medical writer, and in my spare time I am always writing as fast as I can on my own creative projects. How else would I have a published a book of short stories (okay, granted: when I was a mere child of 28) and then a published novel (okay, so I'm slow: nearly twenty years later when I was 47) not to mention the collection of linked stories coming out in the fall?  I barely even dare to mention the unpublished book of essays no one wants, the nonfiction travel book at a silent retreat and spiritual journey that I can't get any traction on, and the book about being disinherited that is kicking my ass: I'm on version 5 and I STILL don't like it (That's right: version five; tone is everything in this book, and I'm getting closer, I think.) So, yeah, I write plenty. I happen to be fast at it, even though the publishing has come slowly.  And also, here's something I learned recently, all those years of so-called "wasted blogging hours" (that someone was always pointing out to shame me) WERE contributing absolutely to the ultimate success of my so-called literary career. I mean, people LOVE a literary genius (if you happen to be one, which I am not) but they don't come looking for you, and they surely don't let you sit around and be brilliant without dusting off the old dog-and-pony show and taking it on the road virtually and IRL.  So, in essence, though maybe the whole enterprise is pretty insignificant in the world of the written word, I don't regret a single minute I spent on this blog. Especially because--this is important--it is hard to find community and comfort and consolation as a writer, or just a regular person, in this culture. And I found that here with all the patchy, scratchy, and sometimes illustrious mice who came around to complain or boast or start a fire.  I really needed you guys on my darkest days, and on most of my light days, too. So, thanks, you all, for being part of LROD. Even the trolls who used to drive me crazy and don't come around any more.  I miss the days when blogs were relevant, and maybe they still are. Surely, I still come around to write a word or two here, even if you can find literary rejections and iterations of this dumb idea all over the floor of the Internet. I guess, you could say my work here is done in the initial sense of pulling publishing out of the closet and into the light a bit.  Or whatever the hell this is.  That's all for now.  Keep writing and plugging away and sending your work out and believing in yourself (even when you don't...and especially then) because before long you will look back and see that it amounted to something very important: your life. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

A Little #Book #Trailer, #Anyone?

Wait...why does it look so sucky when I use the blogger video feature?  You can see what it really looks like here.


Someone told me no one does them anymore and no one watches them. Guess I'm always 10 minutes behind the literary fashion.  Typical.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Hundreds of #Literary #Rejections Later, Yet All Is Not Lost #Pretend I'm Your Friend

How far we've come from the days when the stories in my ill-fated (until now) collection were roundly rejected by everyone in publishing town!  Remember?  Do your mammalian minds reach back as far as 2007? I sent those stories out individually, and as a collection, and then as two collections, and still nobody wanted them.
"Publish a novel," they said. "Then someone might care about your collection."
"But these stories are special," I said. "They're linked!"
"Who cares about rejection?"
It didn't matter, though, because those were the days of rejections, so many of them, adding up to years. Now I can look back at them fondly because they are in the past. At the time, though, as you know, I wailed and lgnashed my teeth and pulled my hair.

Finally I published the novel in 2014. And, guess what, mice: they were right! As you can see above I now have advanced reading copies of the linked story collection, which my publisher calls "entwined."

The advanced reading copies arrived on Saturday to my front porch. I took the above picture as proof that there can be a pay-off to hanging in there and being persistent.  Like a cockroach, a literary cockroach.

There are worse things. Never say die, right?

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

A Little Advanced Praise? #PretendI'mYourFriend @elizmccracken

It may be true that I've lost my LROD edge due to the very act of having to promote another book, as I've been so accused just this morning, but here I am again.  Call me soft, but this blurb from my all-time favorite story writer, made me cry big cartoony tear drops:
"There are, I suppose, stories full of brilliance, hilarity, and longing—the stories in MB Caschetta's terrific Pretend You're My Friend are full of all these things—but I can't remember when I've read a collection so full of life. Actual life: the bad jokes, the astounding velocity, the sweetness and darkness. You will love the characters here the way you love your own family: complicatedly, with tenderness, understanding, and consternation. The only difference may be how willing—and eager—you are to introduce them to friends. Good heavens, this book is good." --Elizabeth McCracken
Elizabeth McCracken!!! Dang, Mice. That doesn't happen every lifetime now, does it?