Just in case you haven’t seen it yet, you’ve got to take a minute and check out Weird Al Yankovic’s new YouTube video/song, Word Crimes.
“Should I change the names of the people in my memoir?”
This is a question that gets asked every time I work with authors who are writing about their own lives. . . . [Read more at the Los Angeles Editors and Writers site.]
If you haven’t had a chance yet to read My Gentle Barn, you may want to pick up a copy. It’s a story to get wrapped up in, one of those tales where you leave your comfy living room sofa and find yourself in another person’s life . . . And Ellie’s a pretty awesome person to hang out with!
Here’s what Booklist had to say about My Gentle Barn (starred review):
The saga of Laks and her animal sanctuary is enormously compelling. She grew up loving animals in a family that could not understand her empathy for “disposable pets.” Struggling to find her way, she fought drug addiction and then successfully started a dog-rescue operation in her spare bedroom. Determined to change the world, Laks rescued animals from a dilapidated petting zoo and then expanded to accept pigs, horses, and more on a multiacre ranch outside Los Angeles. With brutal honesty, she acknowledges the missteps in her first marriage that became a casualty to her rescue efforts, but then she recounts the happiness she found with a volunteer who became her soul mate. The two found enormous personal and professional success as they reached out to at-risk youth and became leading voices in the movement to extend rescue efforts to farm animals. Laks brings so much raw emotion to her narrative that readers will find themselves moved to tears over the lives of goats and cows. Intimate, powerful, and shocking in its revelations about the food we eat, My Gentle Barn is not easily forgotten. This is a book to talk about and return to; it’s a life changer, plain and simple. –Colleen Mondor
You can buy it by clicking on one of the retailer buttons on this page.
So, you’ve written your book manuscript and you think it’s amazing. Or maybe you just have an idea for a book that you think is amazing. What do you do next?
Back in the day of the renowned editor Max Perkins, you could throw your rough pile of brilliance over the transom of the publishing house, and your in-house editor would make it into an equally brilliant published book.
Times are different. Now your brilliant manuscript (or proposal) has to be polished-perfect to even be considered. And . . . if you want to get anywhere near one of the big publishers, you have to go through a literary agent.
So, once you’ve gotten the feedback and guidance of a professional freelance editor or writing coach and you’ve rewritten your manuscript and/or proposal (as many times as necessary), the next step is to search for potential agents. (Where and how to search is for another post.) But once you are ready to make your submission, what do agents want to see?
This article in the online Writer’s Digest does a pretty good job of covering the basics. (The one important piece that’s not covered, other than a passing mention, is how to prepare a proposal. But there are plenty of other resources for that online.)
Also, be sure to read each agent’s submission guidelines on their website. Every agent has a different set of requirements for what they’d like to receive from you (e.g., query letter first, synopsis, first ten pages, first fifty pages, etc.). And be sure you’re pitching to an agent who has interest in the type of work you’ve written.
I invite any of you to share your own wisdom and experiences (or pitfalls and pratfalls) in submitting work to a literary agent. Just add a comment!
“Will you review my manuscript and tell me whether it’s publishable?”
This is a common request I get from prospective clients.
My short answer is: Every manuscript, no matter how good it is, needs a critique (also known as “constructive feedback”) to become publishable.
In response to the critique, the author then does rewrites. Fewer rewrites if the manuscript is close; more rewrites if the writing needs more help. The final step, when you’ve done your last rewrite and addressed all the bigger-picture stuff, is to have your manuscript copyedited (also called “line editing”).
In light of that, it may not make sense to pay for a review to see if your manuscript is publishable, because unless you’ve already received a critique, done your rewrites, and had the manuscript edited, the answer is: it’s not publishable (yet).
It’s more cost-effective for you to go straight into having a critique, since you will need one anyway. In a critique, I give you feedback on the bigger picture—the developmental issues (e.g., plot, character development, themes, dialogue, description, etc.). I make comments directly in the manuscript, at the spots where something catches my attention. I also do a write-up summarizing the salient points.
What you end up with is a custom-made “user’s manual” for rewriting your book. A step-by-step guide created just for you.
So, start with a critique. It’s not as scary as it sounds!
If you missed the book signings last weekend, there’s another one on the calendar for this Saturday. Come treat yourself to a glimpse of My Gentle Barn, as shared by Ellie Laks (who is an absolute delight).
Saturday, April 5, 2014, at 1 pm at the Barnes & Noble in Valencia
My Gentle Barn weaves together Ellie’s own journey with the story of how The Gentle Barn came to be what it is today. Filled with heartwarming animal stories and inspiring recoveries, My Gentle Barn is an uplifting account that will delight animal lovers and memoir readers alike.
Or buy the book here.
Nomi Isak is the collaborative writer on Ellie Laks’s memoir, My Gentle Barn.
If you’d like to meet Ellie and have her sign your copy of My Gentle Barn, she will be signing books at the following times and places in the L.A. area. I plan to be there too (at all but perhaps Valencia).
Saturday, March 29, 2014, at 1 pm — Barnes & Noble in Burbank
Sunday, March 30, 2014, 10am to 2pm at the Gentle Barn! — Barnes & Noble will be there selling books (Not only a chance to buy a signed book, but you can meet the animals!) [Map to The Gentle Barn]
Saturday, April 5, 2014, at 1 pm at the Barnes & Noble in Valencia
Read more here for March 29 and April 5 signings: Ellie at Barnes & Noble
You can also buy the book here.
Nomi Isak is the collaborative writer on My Gentle Barn
Very excited to be approaching the on-sale date for the book I collaborated on: Ellie Laks’s memoir, My Gentle Barn.
It comes out officially on March 25, but it’s available for preorder at the usual retail sites. You’ll find links HERE (you’ll have to scroll down a bit).
If you’d like to read advanced reviews, check out Good Reads.
“My Gentle Barn is a wonderful book. You’ll love Ellie Laks and the animals she rescued–and who rescued her back.” –Sy Montgomery, author of The Good Good Pig
Very funny video that shows you exactly how (not) to pitch a book:
Language is a living thing. And just as living things shift and evolve, language transforms over time. We may resist the changes that just sound “wrong” (I cringe when I hear someone say, “I was laying in the sun.”), but some of those alterations become so commonplace they’re adopted officially into our speech and into our dictionaries.
My prediction is that they/their is on its way to becoming the official third person singular pronoun (“Every person has their preference.”) It may even show up in the dictionary as such during our lifetimes.
We could choose the tack of the Académie française and set rigid rules for what can and cannot be uttered on our turf (or at least within our earshot) . . . or we can relax and enjoy the ride as English careens into the future.
English certainly is not the same animal it was a hundred years ago, or a hundred years before that. It is a living, breathing, changing entity. And it will continue to expand and migrate for as long as there are people to speak it.
Check out the evolution of the words in the following link, and then come back and share your favorite new words or word usages (e.g., “the bomb”; “friend” used as a verb; twerk; and so on).