Archive for January, 2009

Press kits: what do you know?

January 22, 2009

So, as some of you know, I’ve been working on a novel since 2006 & last year completed a children’s book which got some local attention. What I am curious about, however, isn’t the writing process–it’s how to get your book noticed once you’ve already written it.

Nubby Twiglet gave a great tutorial on presonalizing a press kit, and Claire over at One Night Stanzas recently gave a great rundown on the pros and cons of traditional vs. self-publication. (There are several parts to the series, but you can really jump in anywhere & not be lost.) One of my New Years goals was to have a completed press kit by my birthday in March. My confusion comes here: how do you put together a concise, marketable press kit for a kid’s long-form poem & an unfinished chef-d’oeuvre? What would it look like? What should I include?

I want to hear from you all– do you know anyone who has published a book in the United States? Have YOU published a book in the United States? Leave a comment or email me at newenglandnoir (at) gmail (dot) com.


Things I Love Thursday

January 22, 2009


Hello everyone! How was your abbreviated work week? Mine was lovely, thanks very much– in fact TiLT is sort of hefty this week, I’m feeling effusive. Not to keep you in suspense…!

  • Helping my friends plan their weddings. We’re all busy people, so seeing two of my favorite ladies on a regular basis is difficult. That’s why I’m so stoked to be part of helping plan the upcoming nuptials: because it gives me built-in, guilt-free excuses to drive all over creation & hang out! I love these girls, there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for them, so to be involved is a big honking cheesy honor! Plus, weddings being what they are, it’s a lot of fun. I swear, though, I could never keep it all straight. I’m wearing out my Molskine & it’s not even my party! The two ladies couldn’t be more different, so there’s definitely no monotony– & being that my college internship was planning a 200 person dinner… I’d like to think I come in handy. Hooray for love, love, love!
  • Maintaining my goals. Improving your life is hard to do, and keeping with New Years resolutions is even harder. With that much built up on a really meaningless symbol, it can be even more crushing to fail– I am a firm believer in change as you need it, not on a holiday schedule. But this year, despite my New England cynicism, I’ve been doing quite well. That’s not to say I’ve reached every goal, every day; allowing yourself the room to fail & forgiving yourself for it plays a big part in changing overall habits. But I’ve been stretching daily, blogging often, drinking more water & eating 3 meals (nearly) every day. Gretchen Rubin from The Happiness Project said it best: don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
  • Kittens! My aunt & uncle just got a new kitten! Her name is Traitor (but they call her Tray). This is because my uncle Rob, who is pretty much amazing all around, got the kitten as a surprise for my aunt, knowing that she wanted one. And, of course, my uncle is little Traitor’s favorite– hence her silly name. She is “bleached calico”, which only means she’s calico, but lighter than most. I was surprised to hear they got a cat, because they already own two (very spoiled) birds, a parakeet named Twinkie and evil Meyer’s parrot called Jeepers. (My brother & I taught Jeeps to say ‘here, kitty kitty!’  back when such a thing was amusing (okay, still amusing) so I’ll feel pretty guilty if the bird ends up on the lunch menu. But the look on my uncle’s face when he heard the bird say that! Worth it.)
  • Momentum for the sake of momentum. Everyone knows the economy is crashing hard, and the logical extension of that is that schools are bound to take a huge hit financially over the next 2-3 years. No one is more aware of that than a teacher in her first year at a job, because in Massachusetts you don’t achieve professional status until the end of year 3. I’m quite proud of myself: despite many reasons to fret, I am not doing it. Nothing final for the budget is decided, and no one has said to worry, and so I’m just… Not. This is pretty major, because I’m the world’s more prolific worrywart, ask anyone. I’m planning my projects, doing my thing– if I get derailed, then so be it. I’ll take it as my wink from the universe to shake it up & step outside my comfort zone.
  • Rocking my work observation. Enough said!

Honorable mentions this week include: spicy tuna rolls, hot coffee, MLK day with my girlfriends, hot & perfect fish & chips, doubt, affirmation, acceptance, my warm green sweater, plum-colored t-strap flats!, Neko Case & Girl Talk jam sessions, & of course, you.

Literary Ladies #6: Jane Austen lovefest

January 21, 2009

Literary Ladies is my weekly series where I nerd out for a bit & imagine my favorite literary heroines into the modern world. Email me your suggestions or leave a comment below!

Catherine Morland & Anne Elliot: since this week’s stories were originally bound together upon publication, it was natural to feature two of my Jane Austen favorites in the same post. Yes, it’s true: Northanger Abbey & Persuasion are linked also because of their location in Bath, a fashionable resort town, but the similarities beyond that are minimal, as are the two heroines. For consistency’s sake, let’s imagine 2009 Bath as somewhere slightly more exotic & posh, the beach equivalent of Aspen. That kind of vacation in this day and age would inevitably mean more skin & grit than in Jane Austen’s time, as well– but something tells me she wouldn’t be terribly scandalized.

Anne is special because she stands out among Austen’s female characters: she’s older, and at 27 almost certifiably a spinster after having turned down a man she loved deeply because of some bad advice. With friends like that…! She’s depressed, she’s lost, she’s changed drastically since this breakup–but her selfish sisters & neglectful father don’t notice. When he comes back into her life, she remembers her spark…
Anne Elliot
Anne Elliot – by GephydroXX on
Anne is also unique in that she never wavered in her love for her dashing, not-wealthy Captain Wentworth. Yes, it’s true that by the time their relationship is reconciled, he’s made (won) quite a bit of money, but that seems more like a convenience to a symphathetic character than a realistic story twist. What’s realistic about Anne is her natural disposition, her good temper–qualities that her family doesn’t ever appreciate, but which Captain Wentworth considers her loveliest asset. An actress I’d be interested to see in Anne’s role would be Anne Hathaway, who I adore & worship stylistically. Anne’s style would be conservative in comparison to Catherine’s; there is a ten-year age difference between the two. Where Anne is serious, Catherine is frivolous. Where Anne is reflective, Catherine is gullible. Therefore, where Anne’s style is classic lines and a muted palette, Catherine’s style is flamboyant and ready for a party:
Catherine Morland
Catherine Morland – by GephydroXX on
Catherine’s stay with the Tilney family is tumultuous from the beginning, and her curious, borderline morbid behavior embarrasses her on several occasions. Bath is famous for its parties, balls, and social gatherings, and Catherine is determined to be seen at as many as she can. Certifiably silly, in the beginning Catherine lacks the understanding of her world not to internalize every insult, but as the story wears on she grows up a bit and is able to lessen the drama in her life. Her style would be eclectic & trendy, both because she’s got a spunky personality & because she’s young enough to be concerned over what is and isn’t ‘in’. I think a young star, like Dakota Fanning, would make a great Catherine. With big, innocent eyes & an unsullied, ‘I’m-not-Hollywood’ look, she’d be perfect.

Read any good books lately?

The outside world still looks the same

January 20, 2009

Hello again, what a busy weekend it was! There have been lots of recent technology let-downs in the NEN bungalow, though not including my trusty laptop Ophelia. A, because he is infinitely good & kind, offered to take his cousin’s computer home and flash the hard drive & re-install is OS in order to get rid of a nasty root kit that had infested the machine.

But then he infected HIS laptop with a key drive. And so, it was Ophelia who rescued the lot of them, even though it meant no blogging for me for a few days.

But today of all days, there is nothing that can make me stop smiling. Unless you’ve been living under a rock since November 4th, you know that today is the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama.

Everything looked the same on my ride to work this morning. I don’t know what I was thinking would be different; maybe I thought the sky would suddenly be green and the grass blue, the mountains morphed into majestic purple out of sheer patriotism. The radio played the same songs, regular beats and synth claps still in the same places. It still took 14.8 miles to drive from my house to my job, fog clinging to the craggy Notch & threatening to drop an ice cloud on the winding dynamite road. It feels like the first day of the future should look different! Where are the ubiquitous fireworks? Where are the doves swooping down upon us, olive branches in their sharp yellow beaks?

This is an invisible change, but then all change starts thus. The real differences have yet to come. Happy inauguration! Enjoy the fever in today, it won’t be receding anytime soon.

Starred this week: Oh, Obama

January 17, 2009


What excited you this week?