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27 posts categorized "MEMOIRS OF AN IMAGINARY FRIEND"

May 10, 2011

Lessons from Irving and Franzen

I learned a number of interesting things from the authors who appeared at Friday night’s Connecticut Forum.

John Irving’s favorite word is penis, and he claims it to be a very useful word when needing to cut through the chatter of an airport terminal in order to locate your lost child.    

Jonathan Franzen credits HARRIET THE SPY as his first formative novel.

John Irving believes that all novelists should write about what they fear the most. 

In terms of my position on these matters:

I have no favorite word but now feel foolish for not having one.  I shall begin searching immediately. 

My first formative novels were A WRINKLE IN TIME and TREASURE ISLAND. 

In terms of writing what I fear most, my books would probably fall into these categories: 

SOMETHING MISSING: Fear of never being noticed

UNEXPECTEDLY, MILO: Fear of never being accepted

MEMOIRS OF AN IMAGINARY FRIEND: Fear of not existing

April 27, 2011

A proposal in an author’s acknowledgements? How do I top this one?

After thanking his publisher and various bosses in the acknowledgements at the end of THE OTTOMAN MOTEL, first time novelist Christopher Currie thanked his girlfriend. 

"If it's possible to fall more in love with someone every day, then that's what I do.  To my favorite, to the reason I live my life, Leesa Wockner, who, if she reads this, I hope will agree to marry me, despite the number of commas in this sentence."

That’s right.  He asked her to marry him in the acknowledgements.

Damn.

And I thought my engagement story was good.  

My immediate reaction was the story was this:

How do I top it?

What can I include in the acknowledgements of my next book, or perhaps in the book itself, that can one-up a wedding proposal?

I guess I could also propose marriage to someone, which would be even more noteworthy considering that I’m happily married already.

But that would feel like copying. 

So what else?

I could reveal one of my deepest, darkest secrets in the acknowledgements, except I think I’ve revealed most of my deepest, darkest secrets on this blog already.

I could announce the pregnancy of my wife, if she were pregnant, and if we could time the pregnancy to the publication date of the next book, and if my wife was patient enough to wait until next May to get pregnant, and if she could keep the pregnancy secret for more than twelve seconds, which she was not able to do the first time.

So I guess that isn’t going to happen. 

For a moment I thought about seeking revenge upon someone in the acknowledgements.  Acknowledging them as a poopy pants or a cowardly, backstabbing evildoer.  Goodness knows I have more than a few people in my life who are deserving.  But I’ve already written an unpublished manuscript that serves this purpose nicely and is much more subtle about the whole thing.

And someday it’ll be published.    

So what other big moments in life compare to a marriage proposal and the birth of children?

Landing on the best seller list?
Finding the perfect grilled cheese recipe?
Shooting under 90 in a round of golf?

Probably.  But none of these conform well to an acknowledgements page, and none are likely to happen anytime soon. 

Especially the golfing one.    

Perhaps I could use my acknowledgements as a shout-out to someone I’ve always wanted to meet.  Express my appreciation to Derek Jeter or David Sedaris or Bill Bryson or Paula Poundstone, even though none of them have nothing to do with the book, in hopes that one of them might reach out and give me a call. 

Maybe even offer to meet me for dinner.   

Or maybe step outside the box a little more and acknowledge the people who know the truth behind the JFK shooting or the fine folks working on that crashed spaceship that the US government has hidden away in Area 51.

Imagine getting that call.

“Hi, I’m one of the astrophysicists working on the crashed alien ship in Area 51.  I just wanted to thank you for acknowledging our work on your Acknowledgements page.  As you can imagine, we don’t get a lot of attention or fanfare here.  Everything is always Top Secret this and Top Secret that.  We’ll execute you if you tell anyone about the alien bodies we have in the freezer.  So thanks for remember us down here.  You made my day.”

Now that might top a silly little marriage proposal.

April 23, 2011

You are probably a better judge of “interesting or unusual” than me

I am working on an author questionnaire for my publisher and must answer the following question:

Tell us anything about you as a working writer that you think might be interesting or unusual. 

I decided to crowd-source the answer.  Thoughts anyone?

April 21, 2011

My first date/arranged marriage

On Tuesday I had the pleasure of meeting my new editor for the first time.

About a week ago I accepted an offer from Saint Martin’s Press to publish my next two books, including MEMOIRS OF AN IMAGINARY FRIEND.  I was on my way to Vermont for a book retreat when we stopped off at the in-laws house in the Berkshires to drop of the munchkin for the weekend.  After depositing diapers and baby dolls, I called my agent and learned that the final offers had been made on my manuscript and it was time to make a decision.

Since the terms of the offers were very similar, the decision came down to choosing the editor, and after much debate, I chose Brenda Copeland at Saint Martin’s Press, mostly because we had spoken during the previous week about the book, the publishing house, and my career, and I had liked what I heard.

Still, it was a difficult decision, and my agent was uncharacteristically unhelpful during the process.  Both editors are highly respected in the publishing industry and both work for prestigious publishing firms, so Taryn felt good about whichever offer I chose and was therefore less decisive and less certain than usual. 

Essentially, she left the decision to me. 

Though I felt good about my decision to go with Brenda as we left for Vermont, I worried that I would always doubt my choice (as I’m wont to do) and be forever consumed by what-if questions for the rest of my career.

Those doubts were quickly put to bed on Tuesday. 

Meeting your editor for the first time is like going on a blind date.  You know the basic facts about one another but have no idea if there will be any chemistry between the two of you. 

It is a nerve-wracking process. 

This was going to be the person most responsible for shepherding my next two books (and hopefully many, many more) from their humble beginnings to bookshelf glory, and in many ways, she would responsible for dictating the course of my career. 

Also, there would be no polite parting of the ways if our first date went bad.  No throwing away of phone numbers and forgetting the date ever happened.  We would be stuck together regardless of the success of this first date.  It’s sort of like first-date-meets-arranged-marriage, except I did all of the arranging, so if things did not go well, I only had myself to blame. 

Happily, there was no need for blame.

The nearly three hours that I spent with Brenda were divine.  Though we hit it off almost immediately, I actually think she and Elysha hit it off even more, often speaking a language of home décor and food that I could not understand.  I’m happy to report that I found myself in the presence of someone who is experienced, energetic, creative, forward-thinking, and interested in investing in my career as the author as well as the books that  I will write.

In short, she is terrific.  I know we are going to do great things together.     

I couldn’t be more pleased. 

And after breakfast, Elysha and I had the pleasure of visiting the Saint Martin’s offices in the famous Flatiron Building, and the day only got better. 

We had the opportunity to meet key members of the Saint Martin’s team, all of whom were kind enough to take a few moments out of their busy day to say hello and get to know me.  And it truly feels like a team at Saint Martin’s Press: one large organization pulling on the same rope.

I immediately felt at home.   

And the day ended in what must be one of the finest offices in all of Manhattan, located at the tip of the Flatiron Building on the eighteenth floor.  Wall-to-wall windows look straight up Fifth Avenue to the Park and include stunning views of the Chrysler Building, The Empire State Building and more.

And so my career at Saint Martin’s Press begins.

I already find myself wanting to do them proud.

March 29, 2011

Know thyself, or just read what festival organizers have to say about you instead

My appearance at the upcoming Connecticut Book Festival has been finalized for those interested in attending.  I will be speaking on Sunday from 10:00-11:00 AM at the University of Connecticut Greater Hartford Campus. 

I’ll then be signing books from 11:00 AM -12:00 PM.

More details to follow, including the schedules for the other authors appearing. 

In examining the The Connecticut Book Festival’s author website this evening, I notice that it describes me as:

“A writer and teacher who tends to deal with the quirky and/or rebellious individual, forced up against staid society.”

It’s so interesting (and enlightening) to hear someone else’s interpretation of my work.  While this description may not fit my upcoming book, it certainly applies to my first two books, as well as my currently unpublished novel (CHICKEN SHACK). 

And yet, had you asked me to describe some of the common themes throughout my books, I’m not sure if I would have said anything like this.

And yet if I were to ask my friends to describe some of the ideas that are important to me, the rejection of formality, convention and meaningless tradition would probably top the list.

The mind works in mysterious ways indeed. 

March 26, 2011

The latest

Some recent writing-related news that I thought I’d share: 

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We sold the Korean rights to MEMOIRS OF AN IMAGINARY FRIEND this week, bringing the total number of languages that the book will be published in to eight! My super agent is simply super.   

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The rock opera that my friend and collaborator, Andy Mayo, and I wrote has been approved for a staged reading at our local playhouse, complete with real actors, a real director and a real band.  

This is the first step in a someday-maybe-full production of the show (and hopefully the sale of the script), and we couldn’t be more excited.  We’re looking at weekends at the end of October or beginning of November for the reading, and once we lock up a date, I’ll be sure to share it.  The reading will be open to the public, and there will be opportunities to comment on the script and music after the show via a moderated question-and-answer session.

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It looks as if I will be conducting writing classes at a local bookstore this summer, and this may include a class on finding a literary agent.  I’ll keep you updated in the event that you are interested in attending. 

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I have two appearances coming up in April and May. 

I will be speaking at the the Books on the Nightstand retreat from April 8-10 in Manchester, Vermont.  The registration for this event is closed, but if you love books and reading, you should consider downloading and listening to the Books on the Nightstand podcast, hosted by Ann Kingman and Michael Kindness.  They are the organizers for the April retreat, and their knowledge of books and the publishing industry is second to none.   

I will also be speaking at the Connecticut Book Festival on May 21-22 at the Greater Hartford Campus of the University of Connecticut.  This event is open to the public and will include writers such as Wally Lamb, Jim Benn and Connecticut Poet Laureate Dick Allen. 

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I think I have finally settled on my next book.  Over the past month, I have been working on four different novels simultaneously, including a sequel to MEMOIRS OF AN IMAGINARY FRIEND.  I was hoping that as I wrote, one story would assert itself as the next to be born and shine above the rest. 

To be honest, this hasn’t really happened.  All four stories are proceeding along nicely, but trying to write four books at the same time is making me crazy.  So I’ve settled on one for now.  My editor and publisher may request some input in terms of my next book at some point in the future, so my decision may change, but for now, I am officially working on THE PERFECT COMEBACK OF CAROLINE JACOBS, the story of a woman who decides to return to her hometown after more than twenty years in order to issue the perfect comeback to an insult that was directed at her in high school.

There’s much more to the story, of course, but that’s where the idea began.

Thanks as always for all of the support!

March 08, 2011

Book news, including MEMOIRS OF AN IMAGINARY FRIEND

I’ve had a few readers email me recently inquiring about news of my upcoming book, so I thought I’d offer an update:

My third novel, CHICKEN SHACK, which I finished in June of last year, has been slid onto the back burner in favor of my newest book.  I was about halfway done with the new book, MEMOIRS OF AN IMAGINARY FRIEND, when my agent decided to bring the partial manuscript with her to the Frankfurt Book Fair in October.  She loved what little she had read prior to the trip and wanted to share it with scouts and editors.  Thanks to this excellent decision by Taryn, the book gained a great deal of buzz at the fair, even garnering a mention in Publisher’s Weekly

Since the fair, we have sold the rights to MEMOIRS in the UK, Germany, Spain, Italy, Brazil and Belgium, which forced me to bear down and finish the manuscript on a timely basis, which I did last month.  A completed manuscript is now in the hands of US and foreign editors for their consideration, and I am now in phone-watching mode, waiting for Taryn to call with more good news. 

Though I’m still anxious for CHICKEN SHACK to find its way onto bookshelves soon (it’s odd to be sitting on a completed novel and not doing anything with it), the response to MEMOIRS OF AN IMAGINARY FRIEND has been extraordinary, making it well worth the wait.

In the meantime, I am currently trying to settle on a new book.  I started one, which I like a lot, but I’ve been told (and grudgingly agree) that it wouldn’t make for a good follow-up to MEMOIRS. 

So I tabled that idea and started three other books, including a sequel to MEMOIRS, in the hopes that one of the stories would take off and assert itself as my next book. 

Unfortunately, all three have been chugging along quite well, making the decision on which to write next a difficult one.

And no writer should ever attempt to write three books at the same time.  I feel a bit like a philanderer, working on all three at the same time rather than applying all my time and energy to just one.  I have always preferred monogamy in all aspects of my life, so this indecision is not sitting well with me.

I have no date on when MEMOIRS OF AN IMAGINARY FRIEND will be released, but as soon as I know, you will be the first to know.

Thanks as always for your continued interest.