Friday, April 04, 2008

Making a Literary Life Friday: Gossip

Never underestimate the power of gossip. It's important to know what people are saying to whom about what. Now, we're not talking about the malicious kind that some people spread for sport nor are we interested in dishing the private lives of those who run in our circles. What we are interested in, what you should keep an ear open for, is the industry buzz, buzz, buzz. This is what we're hearing, how about you?

Lisa Marnell
Jay Asher, author of Thirteen Reasons Why, was over the moon recently. Why? Because his novel hit the Children's list as a New York Times Bestseller. Congrats, Jay!

Amy MacKinnon

Pssst! Did you hear that publishers and the chain booksellers want more succint novels? Yes, it's true. Now, we're not talking Michael Cunningham's THE HOURS-short (53,730 words), though if you can and create something as gorgeous, good on you. An attractive word count these days is between 70,000-80,000 words. The reason? Of course there's always that old chestnut about people not having enough time for reading, but there's also the very real issue of shelf space. The thinner the books, the more will fit on a shelf. Not that you asked, but I say let all of the outside world be static and write for the story.

And did you know about the bestselling British author who is supposedly just as nice in person as the public persona she projects? It's true! I had the good fortune to meet Kate Mosse at a Buttonwood Books-sponsored reading this week -- her only stop in New England. Kate is the author of LABYRINTH and the just released SEPULCHRE. We chatted along with her Orange Prize co-founder Sam McGregor (let's hear it for women helping women!) for quite a bit and then Kate began her talk. She is brilliant and beautiful and a superb writer.

One last item of note: TETHERED sold in China!

Hannah Roveto
I know this doesn't count per se as gossip, but if you long for inside info that is entertaining -- and highly practical -- you haven't had your regular dose of Kristin Nelson's blog. I'd fallen out of the habit and recently went back; it is every bit as addicting as a certain magazine with star photos, yet delivers real benefits! Two favorite posts that come to mind that are better than gossip for Writers-With-First-Manuscripts are her post on Where Eight New Clients Came From, and last fall's blog workshop series on writing queries, which started with Pitching and All That Jazz. I re-read the latter recently, and was again grateful for her generosity!

Lynne Griffin
I had breakfast with my agent, Elisabeth Weed, yesterday and after talking about books and publishing for two hours, I practically skipped to the seminar I taught later that day. Though there are writers who have yet to meet their agent face-to-face, I highly recommend taking the time and making the effort to nurture a good relationship. And that goes for your relationship with your editor too.

In this month's Poets and Writers, Jofie Ferrari-Adler has written a wonderfully insightful q & a with senior editor at Little, Brown, Pat Strachan. Not only does Strachan share highlights of her career, working with Tom Wolfe, Marilynne Robinson and Grace Paley, to name a few, but she gives advice to writers on working to build a career. The insider information she offers is well worth the read.

8 comments:

Larramie said...

The title of "Gossip" made me smile and the idea that bookstores want leaner books left me wondering as to the real intent.

However no problem learning that China becomes #9 to be TETHERED!

Joanne said...

Props to you, b/c as a novice writer, your blog is one of the places I go for the latest scoop! The book length comment was interesting. As a reader, short novels leave me wanting more; sometimes it's hard to say goodbye too soon to favorite characters. Which I guess keeps you coming back for the next book. Have a great wknd, and keep on dishing!
~Joanne

The Writers' Group said...

Larramie, thank you re: China, what a concept! And I do enjoy a brief book now and then. On Chesil Beach by THE MAN Ian McEwan was as brief as they come and was near perfect. It gave me enough time to start at the beginning and read it again. And Stewart O'Nan's Last Night at the Lobster too.

Joanne, thanks so much for stopping by. And any gossip you have and want to share is always welcome!

Tara said...

Amy,

China, wow! I thought of you today as I was finishing the last few pages of "A New Earth." On page 300 Tolle talks about how some creative people who have enjoyed a relatively small audience can suddenly experience a wave of "creative empowerment" allowing them to touch "countless others."

Has anyone from The Writer's Group read this book? As a writer, I'm struggling with the "not thinking" concept. On the other hand, I know that the best stuff comes out when I don't think too hard.

The Writers' Group said...

Tara, I haven't read the book and without context creative empowerment isn't grounded to anything, so I don't quite understand. Should I read it? Now the not thinking concept I think I get. Around here,we call it being in the flow, when we don't force the words, but they flow from us onto the page and are therefore more organic. Like you, that's when the best writing appears for me.

Amy

Tara said...

Hi Amy,

I'm wishing everyone would read A New Earth, because it's one of those books where you need to talk about it with people for a while after. Let me know if you decide to read it. If you do, and you get to page 300, you'll know why I thought of you after reading that your book is being sold in far away countries! I have friends and family members reading it, but would love to hear what other writers are thinking.

Tara

Carleen Brice said...

Thanks for sharing. Especially the word-count bit. Both my novels hit the 75,000-word sweet spot, which I was at first skittish about with Orange Mint. Most the stuff I was seeing when I was researching was that average novel word count was 80-100k, so, of course, I wondered what was wrong with me. Now I know I'm on the cutting edge! ;)

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