Thursday, November 29, 2007
What is Intelligence? Beyond the Flynn Effect
Dr. John Wright, Professor at the University of Cincinnati's Criminal Justice Division (College of CECH), wrote that: Flynn "is a giant in the field of IQ research. His work has challenged even the most ardent scientists" and "his intellectual reputation is stellar." Not only is Professor Flynn all that, he's a remarkable fellow insofar as being a really nice guy, a superbly fit athlete (at age 73 he can still break 53 minutes for a 10-kilometer run), and an ardent Moral Philosopher who left the United States for New Zealand in the 1960s, where he made a wonderful career teaching and research and writing. Today, he is Professor Emeritus at the University of Otago.
If you ever get a chance to meet Dr. Flynn, or hear him give a talk, you'll be pleased.
I booked Dr. Flynn's radio show appearance, an interview with Mike McConnell on 700 WLW AM, drove Dr. Flynn to and from the airport and hotel, coordinated the publicity (distributing flyers and sending out a press-release and coordinated mass e-mailings) and arranged the book-signing, with the help of Cambridge University Press, Follett and the University of Cincinnati Book Store, and of course the Criminal Justice Division at U.C., with special assistance from Janice Miller and Dr. Wright.
For any prospective literary agent clients who might want a reference as to the quality and quantity of my efforts to promote an author (who is not a client) feel free to contact Dr. Flynn at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Flynn's website is:
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
At Last! Writer Beware Blogs! A.C. Crispin and Victoria Strauss Reveal All!
On Strauss's blog you'll find warnings about fee-charging agents and more.
Other websites for writers seeking to avoid fee-charging agents:
WRITER BEWARE: http://www.sfwa.org/beware/
PREDITORS & EDITORS: http://anotherealm.com/prededitors/
AGENT RESEARCH & EVALUATION: http://www.agentresearch.com/
JIM FISHER'S USEFUL WEBSITE: http://jimfisher.edinboro.edu/index.html
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Query Letters and Literary Agents 101This is a quick course describing the query process for beginning authors and a nice refresher for you old pros. This is not a complete list, just a quick reference.
Why write a query letter?
Unless you already know a literary agent, book publisher, famous author, or are extremely lucky, a query letter is your best chance to get your foot into the publishing business.
My Comment: even if you know someone, you have to write them a letter or an e-mail about your book, (yes, even if you call them first) so you write a query letter because you have to describe in writing what you have created, or what you want, or to thank them for something--such as arranging a pitch meeting.
What is a query letter?
A query letter is a ONE PAGE professional letter describing your book and yourself to a literary agent.
My Comment: A query letter is ideally shorter than a page, and is a formal business letter describing the basic facts of your book and asking for a result (representation or publication) and NOTHING ELSE--it is NOT a sales letter or pitch or plea or a chatty "tell-all" about your creative process or your goals or aspirations or personal life.
If the literary agent is interested in your book he/she will typically write back and request that you send a portion or completed manuscript which he/she will then read and review. If he/she likes the manuscript and thinks it has potential to sell, the literary agent may offer to represent your book, which means they will then attempt to sell the book to a publisher.
Some literary agents may request that you include the first few pages of your manuscript or a separate synopsis with your query, but that is strictly up to the individual literary agent.
What goes into a query letter?
- Your manuscript's title.
- Word count.
- A short synopsis.
- Any writing related credits you may have such as previous publications or contest awards.
- The reason why you have chosen to query this particular literary agent.
What does NOT go into a query letter?
- How much your mother, brother, uncle, neighbor liked the book.
- How often you have queried.
- Never mention you have never been published (they probably know that already.)
- Never mention this is your first book (they know that, too.)
- Don't tell them how great the book is, let your writing speak for itself.
- Don't tell them how much money your book is sure to make, it's their job to determine that.
What is the perfect query letter?
No one knows. Every literary agent seems to have their own idea of what makes a perfect query letter. Some like quirky and clever, some like professional and reserved (most lean towards professional and reserved, so use quirky sparingly.) But even the literary agents who have very specific ideas of what they do or do not like will often highlight and praise a query that breaks the rules they themselves set down. So, what does this mean for you? It means there is no easy answer. Your best bet is to read as many sample query letters as you can find, pick the style you like best and give it a try.
My Comment: True that if you do anything well, the rules sort of fly out the window. But there is a perfect query letter RESULT. The perfect query letter gives the agent or publisher ZERO excuses to say "NO" to reading your work.
If you don't get a response, do not resend the same query. Follow up with a short polite "just checking in" letter after allowing a reasonable amount of time (I recommend one month) to elapse since your query arrived.
Here's a sample an "afterquery:"
On October 25, 2007, I sent you a query via e-mail on my Thriller (89,473 words) entitled: THE BIG FAT MONEYMACHINE. I am just following up to make sure my query was received and is in your queue.
See: querytracker.net for more information on the business of communicating with agents and publishers.
Sunday, November 04, 2007
The time to act is NOW. To date, Honorflight.org has more than 300 applications for these trips. In 2007, approximately 1,200 World War II veterans die each DAY. The average life expectancy for an American male is 74.4 years. The youngest WWII veteran is over 79 years old. In another 5-10 years almost all of our WWII veterans will be gone.
This trip will probably be their “last hurrah,” the last time they will be recognized as heroes and conquering victors that collectively and literally saved the world. All day long they will be thanked, recognized and admired for their service. These veterans will remember the kindness and adoration shown to them for the rest of their lives. They will all have a deeper appreciation for how much their country loves them and will miss them.
THESE TRIPS ARE COMPLETELY FREE TO THE VETERAN.
Honor Flight is a 501C-3 Non-Profit organization. All donations are 100% tax deductible.
To make a donation via PayPal or Credit Card, please click below.
You can also mail your donation to:
Honor Flight, Inc.
Attn: Margaret Morse
300 E. Auburn Ave.
Springfield, OH 45505
And don't forget to thank a Vet near you!
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
I know I harp on "brevity" as being a key aspect of good query writing but you can write a longer query if you execute the form superbly. Below is a fine example of a query that "oozes" writer-smarts (chops). It's one of the best fiction queries I've ever read:
October 31, 2007
In the spirit of Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, Beyond Coincidence is a modern quest for personal fulfillment, directed by dream signs and played out along the California coast. A battle between free will and destiny ensues, enhanced by teasing skirmishes of luck, love and immortality. This women’s fiction novel is the tale of a divinely unfulfilled love triangle between Emily, a compulsion driven photographer, her dead husband Daniel, and an unnamed and unfocused shadow.
Emily Elliott’s life was neatly categorized and pigeonholed. She approached her life with the same zest and ambition as a stapler salesman. That is, until the day Daniel died. Having acknowledged that she and her husband lived at opposite ends of life’s spectrum, Emily unavoidably finds she is horribly unbalanced.
Oddly, Daniel’s death does not delete him from view. Instead, he becomes a guide in Emily’s pursuit of peace. Daniel brings a shadow to Emily. This hazy, vague spirit has a voice that speaks to Emily’s soul and a wit that challenges her sanity.
An arsenal of highly detailed memories and recurrent dreams of gingerbread men launch Emily’s journey to regain her happiness. Abandoning her corporate ways for the passion of modern art, she embraces the camaraderie of the beach community. An art gallery owner encourages Emily to use her photography to bridge her dream world with reality. Back in her dreams, the enticing introduction to the obscure shadow captivates Emily’s imagination and finding him in reality becomes her mission.
The accidental discovery of the fourth floor home, the source of her dreams, in a forsaken Los Angeles neighborhood, blurs the boundaries of time with rays of reality. As Emily nears her journey’s end in a Malibu coffee house, she realizes she is a pearl, a solitary grain of sand evolved into a gem. And she finds Richard. Never again will the reader be able to doubt the validity of dreams, the true meaning of déjà vu, or that a resounding YES is the answer to the question, “Is there anything more?”
After several years in journalism writing for two New England newspapers, I worked many years as a trade magazine photographer and writer. The basis of the fourth floor is born from my own recurring dreams and this is only one of its stories. Beyond Coincidence is an amusing and poignant tale of the layered lives of the people who touch our souls while offering a surprisingly quirky twist on fate. I look forward to your reply.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Hitler's Willing Executioners, Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust, Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, Knopf, 1996
A Moral Reckoning, The Role of the Catholic Church in the Holocaust and its Unfulfilled Duty of Repair, Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, Knopf, 2002
Then you've missed out on important scholarly works that should be required reading on the topic. Also of interest is:
Nuremberg, Infamy On Trial, Joseph E. Persico, Penguin, 1994
While Daniel Jonah Goldhagen's writing is at times dry and a little belabored in places for my taste, his scholarship seems superb, and his books are well worth reading. Hopefully, his contributions will awaken others, as it did me, to a core truth of the Holocaust that is vastly under-publicized: that there were many willing executioners, and assistants, who as ordinary citizens helped torture and kill Jews despite having a CHOICE not to do so, and that by extension today there are many willing executioners who will not fight against true evil (anyone who, for example, claims that the Holocaust did not happen or that Israel should be wiped off the map) or protect the Jews any better than Germans, many of whom were their neighbors, or Christians in general and the Vatican in particular did during the Nazi occupation.
These individuals are almost all gone now but the lesson is so appropriate for our era. And it's disgusting to see all the double standards out there concerning under-reactions to sources of well-organized, well-financed, and intentionally murderous anti-semitism (is it necessary to mention which "religion" I'm talking about by name?) and gross over-reactions to disgust or impatience that is so often mislabeled as "racism" and then an incredibly big deal is made over the act while the same people remain absolutely silent about anti-semitism.
So when Imus says "nappy headed hos" or Isiah Thomas of the Knicks calls a woman a "bitch" THAT, to some people, is a big deal, and those same people will not be or act bothered, in the least, when some wacko President of a country says that the Holocaust did not happen or that Israeli Jews should be exterminated.
The Holocaust is still not deeply understood enough for what it was: an insight into how easily humans get drunk on entertainment and religion in combination with a cult of personality and politics. Proof of this is when Israeli leaders negotiate with Palestinians, Arabs, and other middle eastern countries, who financially and morally support the armed thugs who are actively living out their Holocaust fantasies, one Israeli at a time, every day, right now, in 2007.
There is nothing to negotiate with these people over. Not until every last one of them stops killing Jews, accepts Israel's right to exist, and renounces violence as a means of negotiating political solutions.
And if you can't renounce violence, then don't whine about not having a land or a country or a job or whatever the hell it is you claim to want because sensible people who understand the Holocaust DO NOT NEGOTIATE WITH VIOLENT ANTI-SEMITES.
Or, at least, should know better!
Thursday, October 18, 2007
RATES & SERVICES:
Representation: 10% Commissions. 4% Commissions Available for certain projects/authors (quoted on a project by project basis).
Managing Agent Justin E. Fernandez is a licensed attorney, published book author, and a former professional book editor, with NYC and LA Entertainment/Literary Agency experience -- trained in the Literary Agenting business by Sandra Martin of Paraview, Inc., New York, NY. Prior book sales include: Millennium Prophecies, Mark Thurston, Kensington (while with Paraview); The Positive Power of Praising People, Jerry Twentier, NTC-Contemporary Press (now McGraw-Hill); and Viscount Victorious, Seeking Celeste, and By Way of a Wager, by Hayley Ann Solomon, three Romance Novels to Kensington/Zebra Books. Mr. Fernandez is also the author of Drug Illegality is Bad Public Policy: The Other End of the Chain, 25 University of West Los Angeles Law Review, 151-191, (Summer, 1992); an article on Literary Agenting in the 2000 Writer's Digest Guide to Literary Agents, and three books for Chelsea House Publishers (library market young-adult non-fiction).
1. Send your query via e-mail to: Lit4@aol.com
2. Don't sweat it, just do your best to write a concise factual e-mail with TITLE, GENRE, and WORD-COUNT (at minimum).
3. Please mention if you were referred here, or where you found Southern Sunrise Agency.
4. Follow-up in one month if you hear nothing.
If you are looking for an agent with a large client list, or celebrity clients, or a NYC-based operation, then Southern Sunrise is probably not the right agency for you.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
--William J. Birnes
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Go, read, enjoy, mourn her withdrawal from the blogosphere, praise her, get inspired, we need more light to shine upon the talented authors who labor in the world of Print on Demand (POD).
Also of note is how copy-editing errors can even creep into texts published by the major NYC publishers. Don't let that serve as an excuse for you to ignore careful proofreading and line editing.
If you don't want to do all that yourself, or cannot proofread or edit your own work well, go find a good editor/proofreader. Even Tiger Woods uses a swing coach.
Be a Tiger!
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Get it, read it, apply it EVEN IF YOU ARE NOT WRITING SCI-FI or FANTASY.
and...another good one:
Marge Percy and Ira Wood have put out a new expanded edition of:
SO YOU WANT TO WRITE, (2005)
Friday, August 03, 2007
Richistan: A Journey Through the American Wealth Boom and the Lives of the New Rich, Robert Frank, Crown (2007);
The Writing Life, Ellen Gilchrist, University Press of Mississippi (2005)
The Speed of Light, Javier Cercas, Bloomsbury (2006);
America's Last Days, Douglas Mackinnon, Dorchester (2007)