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Posts Tagged ‘Last Will’

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An author’s resume!

One of the things that has been standard in publishing for years is the author’s resume. Sure, we call it the author’s biography, but so frequently it turns into a list of every random job the author has ever worked. Safecracker! Chicken sexer! Hypnotist! Roller Skate Dancer! Gondolier! Lion Tamer! The weirder the better seems to be the goal when you’re writing copy for the back flap of your book.

When I first had to write an author bio, on the release of my first novel, Last Will, I was stumped. People offered the usual advice: all those weird jobs I had. Sex educator! Topless waitress (for a night)! Receptionist at a nuclear power plant! Architectural slide archivist! Nobody suggested that I should trumpet to the world my two stints as a custodian. (Once at a church. Once at a daycare.) Nor my time toiling in the salt mines of university adjunct teaching or the clerical fields.

My solution was to just skip over the random jobs portion of my bio and fill up space with such witty gems as “Bryn Greenwood lives in Kansas, which is as flat as you imagine but slightly more charming.” I’m a novelist, okay, not a biographer.

When my second novel, Lie Lay Lain, was published, it suddenly mattered that I had worked as a church secretary for three years. It gave me pew cred, so to speak, to be writing a book about a church secretary. Rarely, though, do I see authors celebrating the completely normal, menial jobs that they did before they became somebody who had a bio on the back of a book. That makes me a little sad, especially after what I witnessed this morning.

As I was arriving on campus for my quotidienne office manager job, I saw a young woman using a weedwhacker to trim around a faculty parking lot. She paused at one point and pulled a piece of paper and a pencil out of her pocket. With the weedwhacker still running, she furtively scribbled on her paper. Every few seconds her head bobbed up and she scanned the horizon to be sure her boss on the grounds crew didn’t catch her. As I passed, the paper and pencil went back into the pocket, and she returned to whacking weeds.

I imagined her as a poet, capturing some passing observation on spring, but she might just as likely have been a prose writer or, like my custodian friend who scribbles on the job, a screenwriter. Either way, it made me sad to think of young writers reading authors’ bios and finding them devoid of those boring, plain old jobs. Writers don’t only spring forth from the lucrative careers of lion taming or burlesque dancing or mortuary aesthetics. They also spring forth from secretarial work, child care, burger flipping, and unemployment.

In other news, my publisher is running a sale. The Kindle editions of both my novels are only 99¢ until May 10th! Click on the pic to go buy.

LIE_sale_graphic

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I have never sent a holiday card in my life. I don’t celebrate Christmas. Or Chanukah. Or Kwanzaa. As a result of my holiday abstention, I have never sent holiday cards.

But this year, just for you, I am sending holiday cards. My publisher, Stairway Press, is running a promotion during December that allows you to order a book and receive a personal holiday card from certain authors on their list. For whatever crazy reason, I’ve agreed to take part and send my very first holiday cards. The purchase can be for you or for someone else, but I will personally be sending holiday cards to anyone who purchases a copy of Last Will or an advance copy of Lie Lay Lain from my publisher’s website. Other participating authors are shown here.

Stairway-Press-2013-Holiday-Promo-AD

If you’re interested in getting a book and a card for yourself or for some other reader near and dear to you, just pop over to the Stairway Press book store page. And then use care when checking your mail…

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Today feels like a good day to give something away. Soon enough, I’ll be able to reveal the cover for my upcoming novel, Lie Lay Lain. Until then, and to say welcome to the new folks following my blog, I’m going to give away two signed copies of my first novel, Last Will.

Last Will

Let’s make it an easy give away. I’ll do a random drawing for the winners out of anyone who follows my blog and comments on this post, telling me what was the best thing you ever inherited. (Open to your interpretation of “inherit.”)

That’s it. Easy peasy. If you follow my blog and comment on this post, I’ll put you in the drawing. Next Friday, I’ll pull two people randomly to win, and I’ll post about one of my favorite inherited items.

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Well, here’s the official day … Last Will is out in the wild. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, direct from the publisher, Stairway Press.

I’m feeling a little excited and slightly anxious. After all, the first inevitable bad review must come. I’ll feel better when it’s over. So far the nicest thing is how supportive and helpful people have been. I’ve discussed this with other folks, but I’ll say it again: with very few exceptions, book people are good people.

So far, the funniest part of the process has been my family’s reaction. I’ve been writing most of my life. They know I write. They’ve badgered me for years about when was I going to sell a book and become a millionaire. (No amount of me explaining the publishing industry has disabused them of the notion that publishing is almost as random as the lottery, and my odds of “winning” are about the same.)

Now that I finally have a book coming out, they’ve been on this see-saw of excitement and dread.

My mother, holding the book in her hand and frowning: I’m not going to be shocked, am I?

Well, you’ve know me for forty years. If I can still shock you, I’ll be pleased, but I kinda doubt it.

My sister, calling me immediately after she finished reading: OMG!!! I really really liked it! I was worried that I wouldn’t, because … you know, but I really do!

Because … I’m a weirdo? Who writes weird things? Or because you weren’t sure I was any good at it?

My cousin: I’m not in there, am I?

Only if you’re an alcoholic alien abductee or a beauty queen or an elderly rich woman. Are you?

In summation: the book isn’t all that weird, I think it’s competently written, and I didn’t base the characters off my family.

Alas, the book is out, but I’m not yet a millionaire, so I better quit futzing around here and get back to work. Cheers! And I hope you enjoy it.

PS: the contest winners’ books are going in the mail today!

 

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Whew! Real Job™ has been a little crazy this week, so I’m running behind schedule. That said, the winners of an advance reader copy of Last Will have been selected:

OMGOMGOMGIt'sreallyreallyrealOMG*flail*

AmyHFTW
Sarah C. H.
Snappy
Anne E. J./KittyAdventures
Nikki R. H.
Liz M.
SnoringKatZ
Ilana M.
Judy M.
Debra H.
Drude
Hangaku Gozen

I’m pretty sure there’s some magical way for me to pull all your email addresses from my contest platform, so I plan to send out an email to check on your mailing addresses. If you don’t hear from me by tomorrow, though, would you shoot me a message?

Now I must scurry back to Real Job™!!

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My novel Last Will comes out on April 24th, so in celebration of that, I’m posting an excerpt for Teaser Tuesday! There’s still time to enter to win a signed advance reader copy of the book, too. Visit me over on Facebook, where you can see the full array of things that will get you more chances to win. You can Like my author page on FB, follow my blog, follow me on Twitter, retweet the giveaway, and you can add the book to your to-read list on Goodreads. The contest ends at midnight, April 12th, and I plan to have the books in the mail by that Saturday.

***

While you were out ...

I met up with Mrs. Bryant in the front hall and waited for her to say, “Good afternoon, Mr. Raleigh.” Instead, she reached into her apron pocket, presented me with a handful of message slips, and said, “I need to speak with you, Mr. Raleigh.” Five minutes later, she was sitting on the other side of my grandfather’s desk, looking over the piles of phone messages at me.

“Mr. Raleigh and I had discussed me retiring. My health isn’t what it used to be, what with the arthritis,” she said. I accepted my defeat graciously.

After Mrs. Bryant’s resignation, I called the office of the Chairman of Raleigh Industries, and his assistant said she would call the assistant of the VP of Human Resources, who would hire me an assistant, who perhaps would kill the rat that ate the grain that sat in the house that Jack built. Mr. Tveite was right. I needed help.

I hoped, too, that replacing Mrs. Bryant could be accomplished from a distance, but my grandfather had always managed his own household staff. The next day, Mrs. Bryant presented me with her replacements. She asked me into the kitchen and forced me to engage in a farce of an interview, as though my opinion could be of any value. I wasn’t surprised that one of her prospective hires was her daughter, Mary Beth Trentam, who seemed embarrassed to shake my hand. Nepotism I had expected, but I was dismayed when she re-introduced the other applicant saying, “And you’ve met Mary Beth’s niece, Meda Amos. She’s been helping out temporarily.”

We didn’t shake hands.

Once we were seated at the kitchen table, Mrs. Bryant began by explaining, “Mary Beth’s been working in retail, but she’s really been looking for something more stable.”

“And I’ve come in a few times as temp help for Mother over the years,” Mrs. Trentam said. She was a younger version of her mother, well-built and just starting to go a little thick around the waist. Her hair wasn’t grey yet, but it gave away her age all the same. It was styled with such exacting detail that she must have worn the same hairstyle for the last fifteen years. That or it was a wig.

In a tone of mournful confidence, Mrs. Bryant said, “Meda’s been out of work for about two months now. On welfare. I used to have full-time help, but she quit this August and I never hired anyone to replace her. It’s better to have two people steady. It’s a big house.”

I considered all of it unnecessary information. My personal policy toward most of humanity resembles the Army’s policy regarding homosexuals. I won’t ask; please, don’t tell me.

“I’m sure you know best, Mrs. Bryant,” I caught myself saying, for the third or fourth time in ten minutes. Meda sat to my right at the kitchen table, pretending to sip her coffee, although I could see the level in the cup hadn’t gone down at all. Her serenity had a small chink in it.

If the lovely, shy creature tucked under God’s arm in the Sistine Chapel ceiling fresco of Creation was intended to be Eve, she was nothing but a pale ghost of her Talmudic precursor. Meda was the darkly illuminated incarnation of Lillith, one of Adam’s earlier wives, whom he repudiated for wanting to be on top during sex. As though she could read my mind, Meda glanced at me before I could look away. Her eyes were blacker than my coffee and just as liquid.

Based on my inability to look at her with anything like indifference, I knew it was a horrible idea to have her working in the house full time, but I agreed to it. I also agreed to the salaries Mrs. Bryant suggested. I would have agreed to almost anything to bring the interview to an end.

“You’ll need to get the information to give the accountant for taxes,” Mrs. Bryant said. “Or I could call the accountant.” She was thinking of unanswered phone messages when she stressed the matter of paperwork. I couldn’t be trusted.

Once they were gone for the day I wandered around the house, feeling like a time traveler. In my grandmother’s sitting room, the same lace curtains hung against walls not papered, but hand-painted in complimentary stripes. The furniture was all upholstered in the same shades of blue. I half expected to find her at the piano, absently picking out a song with one or two fingers. I wasn’t afraid of ghosts; as far as I knew, I was the only person who ever died in the house.

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My publisher, Ken at Stairway Press, sent me pictures of the folks who are working today to put together book packages. The book, plus a press release, is going out the door to reviewers. 130 copies in all are going. Check it out!

That's a lot of books!

They seem like very nice people, if a little fuzzy. ;o)

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