Book Proposal Questions

Melissa Rosati ended her workshop with these questions:

  • Is a book really the right first product for me? I love books. I have already blogged. So, yes.
  • What do I want the book to do for me? Make me a ton of money, earn me some street cred, get my distinct voice out there in the marketplace of ideas.
  • What is the relationship you want with your target audience? To empower people to share their ideas through writing. To inspire writing that leads to personal transformation. But, hmmmm, in terms of relationship, that’s a tough one. I don’t know. How committed does an author have to be to her readers? I’ll answer their emails, comment on their updates, teach workshops, attend readings, read their writing. But, let’s face it, all relationships take time. Do I have the time for another relationship?
  • If you do not have business experience, who are your trusted advisers? This is also a tough one for me. I do not like asking for help. I like being the helper. I’m not sure my peeps are business peeps.
  • What’s your budget? How much are you willing to risk? Ummm, $150 maybe?

These questions come from the workshop The New Rules of Book Proposals which I stumbled into late because the parking garage was literally a mile from the International Women’s Writing Guild classrooms on the Yale University campus. (And having a book published wouldn’t make the parking lot any closer.)

I wish I caught the beginning of the class because I have a lot to learn about book publishing.

Writing the Details

Here’s one of the sparkling gems from Southern writer Pat Carr’s Memoir and Fiction Writing class.

Set the scene with three or four details. Here are ten ideas of what Pat means by sensory details and then an example from me on my story set on a playground.

  1. Odor – wet sand
  2. A time of day or season – end of summer
  3. Temperature – warm and humid
  4. Sound – children laughing
  5. Important object – small charm bracelet
  6. Dominant color – beige
  7. Dominant shape — circles
  8. Something that can be touched – curly hair
  9. Taste – rain in the air
  10. Certain slant of light – late afternoon sun

I love number 10. Pat was inspired by Emily Dickinson. Love Dickinson: “Tell all the Truth but tell it slant.”

Light is so important, I think, as I write from a sun-soaked bench cloistered in a square at Yale University attending the International Women’s Writing Guild conference.

Pat Carr’s writing exercises, like this one, can be found in her book Writing Fiction with Pat Carr. Her new memoir is One Page at a Time: On a Writing Life.

Happy Bloomsday!

Grab some James Joyce. Read a section from Ulysses.

It all takes place on 16th of June and yes a day like others and yes a day like today and here we are in June in bloom and the sun and taxicabs as bright as dandelions and summer breathing down our neck like pearls…

Tonite I am celebrating Bloomsday with friends at the Irish American Bar Association at the rotunda at the Supreme Court in NY. (Thanks to my Irish attorney friends in book club).

We are promised readings from Molly’s soliloquy and general bawdiness.

I look forward to discussing the First Amendment — and how does that freedom relate to Anthony Weiner? And who among us is the first to throw stones at Weiner? I would like to know. Because, God knows, no one wants their tweets, updates, private messages, instant messages, blogs, emails, combed through too carefully. Not me.

And yes I am not a preacher nor a politician. I am a writer. And what power does a writer have?

Oh I don’t know. As the invitation to the Bloomsday celebration stated, “James Joyce did not just give us one of the greatest works of world literature. He also gave us a landmark ruling in First Amendment jurisprudence.”

Thanks to the Irish American Bar. Thanks to the Boston Globe for this article:  http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/brainiac/2011/06/its_bloomsday_l.html and this awesome picture of Marilyn Monroe reading Ulysses.

And thanks, of course, to Joyce himself for this:

“God of heaven theres nothing like nature the wild mountains then the sea and the waves rushing then the beautiful country with the fields of oats and wheat and all kinds of things and all the fine cattle going about that would do your heart good to see rivers and lakes and flowers all sorts of shapes and smells and colours springing up even out of the ditches primroses and violets nature it is as for them saying theres no God I wouldnt give a snap of my two fingers for all their learning why dont they go and create something I often asked him atheists or whatever they call themselves go and wash the cobbles off themselves first then they go howling for the priest and they dying and why why because theyre afraid of hell on account of their bad conscience ah yes I know them well who was the first person in the universe before there was anybody that made it all who ah that they dont know neither do I so there you are they might as well try to stop the sun from rising tomorrow the sun shines for you he said the day we were lying among the rhododendrons on Howth head in the grey tweed suit and his straw hat the day I got him to propose to me yes first I gave him the bit of seedcake out of my mouth and it was leapyear like now yes 16 years ago my God after that long kiss I near lost my breath yes he said I was a flower of the mountain yes so we are flowers all a womans body yes that was one true thing he said in his life and the sun shines for you today yes that was why I liked him because I saw he understood or felt what a woman is and I knew I could always get round him and I gave him all the pleasure I could leading him on till he asked me to say yes and I wouldnt answer first only looked out over the sea and the sky I was thinking of so many things he didnt know of Mulvey and Mr Stanhope and Hester and father and old captain Groves and the sailors playing all birds fly and I say stoop and washing up dishes they called it on the pier and the sentry in front of the governors house with the thing round his white helmet poor devil half roasted and the Spanish girls laughing in their shawls and their tall combs and the auctions in the morning the Greeks and the jews and the Arabs and the devil knows who else from all the ends of Europe and Duke street and the fowl market all clucking outside Larby Sharons and the poor donkeys slipping half asleep and the vague fellows in the cloaks asleep in the shade on the steps and the big wheels of the carts of the bulls and the old castle thousands of years old yes and those handsome Moors all in white and turbans like kings asking you to sit down in their little bit of a shop and Ronda with the old windows of the posadas 2 glancing eyes a lattice hid for her lover to kiss the iron and the wineshops half open at night and the castanets and the night we missed the boat at Algeciras the watchman going about serene with his lamp and O that awful deepdown torrent O and the sea the sea crimson sometimes like fire and the glorious sunsets and the figtrees in the Alameda gardens yes and all the queer little streets and the pink and blue and yellow houses and the rosegardens and the jessamine and geraniums and cactuses and Gibraltar as a girl where I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes”
I’ve blogged about James Joyce before. About how his writing inspired an epiphany — when I looked up and saw a bird circle. http://mbcoudal.wordpress.com/2011/01/03/my-3-words/

Social Media Mania

I’ve been trying to post on one of my blogs every day for the month of June. Yesterday I was dragging. I didn’t have anything to say, couldn’t come up with a good idea, had too many social occasions to attend. One of those occasions was our monthly Lunch and Learn workshop which is a venue for our brilliant Communications staff to share their expertise.

At yesterday’s lunch, Beth Buchanan of the web team gave an awesome Prezi.com session. The title? Social Media Mania. It inspired and informed the two dozen of us there, half of us experts (ahem! like moi?) and half beginners (moi aussi!). After Beth’s session, I felt energized to get through my slog of a daily blog.

Here are a few take-aways from Beth.

Beth's profile pic!

How do we get into social media?

  1. Sign in
  2. Listen
  3. Engage
  4. Evaluate

I’m not particularly good at Numbers 2 and 4, but I am going to be!

Buchanan emphasized a few best practices for social media. Such as “Do onto others as you would have them do unto you.” In other words, think before posting.

Social media is a conversation, not a monologue, she said. So don’t swamp people with your point of view without taking an interest in theirs.

Another novel concept — and why haven’t I thought of this? — Have a social media strategy and make it work for you. To get thinking about this, start with the question, Who is my audience? (How am I supposed to know!)

I loved some of Beth’s quotes (and did tweet them during the session), like this one: “You establish who you are by what you post.”

On Twitter, Beth said if you’re tweeting for a company — for every three business posts, include one personal post. Duh! I microblog on Twitter for New World Outlook magazine @NWOMag and for myself @MaryBethC but I don’t cross-over; personal is personal and business is business. But I’ll try to cross-pollinate, just like Beth Buchanan, the social media maven at Global Ministries, does. Thanks, Beth! @BJBuc and @connectNmission !

Beth is the friend and colleague who got me started on blogging, Facebook and Twitter. And now there’s no stopping me! At least for the month of June!

Good Advice

The head of school sent forth the 8th graders with this good advice:

1. Embrace change. Learn to love it.
2. Do good. Keep on doing good. When you see something good that needs doing, do it. Don’t wait for others. Especially do good for strangers.
3. Find your own punctuation. That means: Take moments to stop. Think. Be intentional. Eat. Laugh. Share meals.
4. Don’t be tourists. “Walking is a virtue, tourism is a deadly sin,” Bruce Chatwin said. Yes, walk in the hidden places. Dig in.
5. Be a duck-rabbit. This is from Ludwig Wittgenstein. In other words, be paradoxical; be a mystery. When people try to box you in, resist.

While Dominic A.A. Randolph addressed these remarks to soon-to-be high school students, the advice seems pertinent to creative writers, like me. As a writer, I want to    1. love new ways of writing    2. write to make the world better, kinder    3. find new ways to punctuate sentences (or not punctuate — look no period)    4. engage fully, even subjectively    5. be a writer who is paradoxical, counter-intuitive and funny

Randolph also inspired an earlier post which described 3 aspects of community: 1. Hard work 2. Passion 3. Diversity.

http://mbcoudal.wordpress.com/2011/05/07/what-is-community/

I love learning and learning about learning. Having kids and learning alongside of them (and with them) is like being in grad school and grade school at the same time. A mystery wrapped in a conundrum. A duck-rabbit. Both and.

Oh No, My Mother Just Joined LinkedIn

My mother just requested to join my network. What should I do? Soon she’ll be telling me to change my profile picture, get a hair cut, rewrite my status update, stop cursing. (I tell my son that last one!)

On the other hand, I may need a job recommendation and we have worked together. Seriously. I was a guest lecturer in her college classroom. And she’d be there if I needed her. It’d be a way for us to be linked if our phones went down.

I’m not sure. I’ve just felt that social media was my realm, my playground. And I’m doing great without her. I’m growing up, Ma.

I know Facebook is not far behind. Facebrag has a competitive edge. Who has the cutest kids? The most friends? The wittiest comments? Me, Joanne Woodward, Lou Stellato.

Yes, she’d get to see a lot more photos of her grandkids. And read a lot more of my writing, including this post. So I better stop writing now.

I do write to be read. And I do love my mother. So, yes I’ll accept her request to connect to my network on LinkedIn. After all, their tagline is: Relationships matter. Yes, they do. Especially the online relationships between parent and child.

Cash Flow

This photo does not really have to do with the post. But Friday night the sunset beyond Riverside Park was so lovely.

Chatting with Joe, the financial advisor, I discovered something — our resources are finite! That’s amazing. Like my energy level on a Sunday night after a long weekend, I cannot go on indefinitely and neither can our financial hemorrhaging.

I have blogged about how I am oblivious to money. http://mbcoudal.wordpress.com/2011/03/03/stocks-and-numbers/ Money comes, money goes. I shrug; I could care less. Bills get paid. Groceries are purchased. What else do I need to know? Um, a lot. I am supposed to save for college, retirement, Chris’s more immediate chronic health care needs. I am supposed to notice how we spend. I am trying to get a clue.

The good news was that we do not have any debt. The bad news is that we do not have the proverbial emergency liquid fund.

But my big aha? Resources are finite.

I have always bought into the New Age notion that money is energy. When you need more, you insert yourself into an abundant stream. To me that idea of an infinite universe is more appealing than a finite universe. But it may not be as practical. Or fund the kids’ college and all that.

More Friends

I’ve been trying to drive up my number of Facebook friends to surpass 1,000.  I believe the more friends you have, the more you achieve.

There are studies to bear this out. UCLA researchers studied LA high school students and discovered More school friends?=better grades. I like to think that the study goes for more adult friends too. More work friends?=better work.

Journal of Research on Adolescence — adolescents with more in-school friends than out-of-school friends had higher grade-point averages and — complementing this finding — that those with higher GPAs had more in-school friends. (from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100603172221.

It fits in beautifully with my Rules for Happiness #1 — Pile on the People. http://mbcoudal.wordpress.com/2011/05/23/pile-on-people-and-activities/

The key for me is to draw the circle wide. My friends are varied in status, age, race, gender.

I learned a long time ago, especially as a writer, that the person to befriend is not the CEO but the CEO’s assistant. He or she is the one who really knows what’s going on and can get you the good story.

I love that FB has made the word friend a verb as well as a noun. It’s no secret that I’m in love with social media, especially blogging on WordPress.

One of my real (and FB) friends mentioned that she’s concerned that by blogging we’re creating a false sense of intimacy. Maybe it’s true we reveal a little too much of ourselves. I’m not sure — to figure out what I think about this, I’ll have to talk it over with one of my friends. Or maybe I’ll just instant message them.