Thursday, December 31, 2009
Berta Ruck was a prolific writer who wrote almost 80 novels in the course of her rather long life (she was 100 years old when she died in 1978.) Her first novel, His Official Fiancée, was published in 1914 and set the tone for the books that followed. Many of her books were light, romantic fare with British protagonists. While they might be viewed as historical fiction by us, when she wrote them they were set in contemporary times and as such provide us with a unique insight into their era.
She was very much a product of her times, and as Britain was at war when she wrote many of her first novels these portray a very nationalistic, almost xenophobic, attitude on the part of her heroes and heroines. However, the romantic dialogue that she wrote is some of the best I've ever read. It will make your toes curl. And, in the words of a 1922 New York Times Book Review, "one can always depend on finding an interesting plot, strongly tinged with originality, in any novel by this author."
I wholeheartedly concur, and hope you will check out In Another Girl's Shoesand the other books by Berta Ruck that will be released by LeMoyne House in the near future.
Friday, September 18, 2009
Isn't the cover art for INCOGNITO gorgeous? It's a hand-colored copperplate engraving from the early nineteenth century courtesy of George Glazer Galleries in New York. If any of you are in the market for antique maps, prints, etc, check them out at http://www.georgeglazer.com/.
And if anyone is in the market for a book various readers have described as “a great, witty, fun read” please check out INCOGNITO.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
In that collossal black hole of information known as the worldwide web, I somehow stumbled across a “tweet” about my book, MR. MALCOLM’S LIST. A college student from Dublin said regarding it: “Liked 'Mr. Malcolm's List'. A little too didactic perhaps, but a sweet story.”
My reactions to this tweet were many and varied. My first reaction was to look up the word “didactic” in a dictionary. I thought I knew what it meant, but felt I must be mistaken because I couldn’t imagine such an adjective applied to my novel. For those of you who have only a hazy idea what the word means, here’s a definition:
1. Intended to instruct.
2. Morally instructive.
3. Inclined to teach or moralize excessively.
I really thought I had written just an entertaining piece of fluff, and had no idea it was morally instructive. I wonder just what my message was? Don’t write lists? However, she wasn’t the only one to feel it had some sort of moral (someone on Goodreads said something similar) so I must have slipped one in there without even realizing it.
I was mostly excited that a student in Dublin had even heard of MR. MALCOLM’S LIST, had read it, and had liked it. It always amazes me when I stumble across people who have read my book. Of course, since I eagerly scour the internet looking for such people I guess it’s not too surprising that I’ve found a dozen or so.
I had a not-so-pleasant experience with a review today. I’ve gotten such great, unsolicited reviews (no, I didn’t bribe these people) on Amazon.com and other sites that I was surprised how painful it was to get a less than glowing review. However, it was only one person’s opinion, and opinions are always subjective and, in this person's case, wrong.
At least, that's my opinion.
Monday, May 4, 2009
Not that we had many adventures. When I’ve taken cruises in the past I usually gather up as many friends and family as I can and then spend my entire vacation telling them where to go and what to do. It was quite disappointing to someone of my maternal/herding instincts (I think one of my ancestors was a sheep dog) to only have my husband to tell what to do and where to go for two weeks. Really, I could have just stayed home and done that. I did manage to find four people from Switzerland on our ship who didn’t speak much English and I persuaded them to let me arrange their transportation in Cartagena, Columbia. We all shared a cab from the port and got off in the Old Town. I had a map and had done research and started showing them some great Baroque architecture, and they asked me if I’d mind if we separated and just all met back at the taxi. So it was back to leading my husband around. Since I got lost several times (it wasn’t my fault, the streets in Cartagena are CRAZY) he mutinied and stole my map. The other problem I had was I was working off a travel article from The New York Times that had suggestions about where to eat, and of course none of the restaurants mentioned in the article even existed anymore, so that made it kind of difficult to find them.
We had more success in Antigua, Guatemala. Actually, it was a near perfect day. I got a little turned around at the beginning, and Jonathan kept proposing that we hire a local for a walking tour, but I vetoed that suggestion and eventually we got our bearings. We found a great French restaurant and had crepes and tarts overlooking the ruins of an old Cathedral. Later we stopped at a beautiful courtyard café for one of the best cups of coffee we’d ever had. Life was good.
But the next day the ship docked in, horror of horrors, Mexico. Not that Mexico is horrible, but we had no idea it was in the midst of a Swine Flu epidemic. So in blissful ignorance we got off the ship and exposed ourselves to a dreaded illness. It wasn’t until we docked in California early last Sunday morning that I spoke to my mother on the phone and she told me about the news reports. This week none of the cruise ships are even docking in Mexico. I don’t think either of us caught the Swine Flu, but I am feeling kind of achy so my family refuses to see me. After envisioning a joyful reunion after a long absence, it’s a bit anticlimactic. Oink. Oh, excuse me.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
National Public Radio reported yesterday that publishers were told: “If you have an attractive-looking author, there’s a better chance that your book will get reviewed.” Knopf’s publicity director Nicholas Latimer said the implication was “you have to have an attractive author first, and then if they’ve written something interesting, they might review it.”
I would really like to get my book MR. MALCOLM’S LIST reviewed, so I would like your help in determining which of my photos would most likely get me that starred review in Publisher’s Weekly or Romantic Times. (Or get me reviewed, period. Right now, none of the reviewers will even reply to my e-mails.)
You would think I would have a distinct advantage over many other authors as my husband is a professional photographer. However, in our house we have the same problem exemplified in the old proverb: “The shoemaker’s son always goes barefoot.” My husband is always shooting photos of other people, so I don’t have as many photos of myself as you might think.
But I have managed to scrape together some of the photos he’s shot over the years (I mean, as long as they’re attractive, right? Who cares if the photo is ten years old? I WANT A REVIEW! I WANT A REVIEW!)
Now I need your help. Which is the winning shot, the one that will tell all prospective readers and reviewers: “This woman is one serious writer. But she’s witty, playful, and entertaining, too. With one look into her eyes you can see deep into her soul, and you know she’s someone you’d like to spend a few hours with in sparkling conversation. But she’s not too deep; she’s not one of those literary snobs who think they’re smarter than you and are out to prove it. She’s not out to change the world; she just wants to enable you to escape it for a short while.”
Okay, maybe that’s a bit of a reach. So just tell me, which picture would make you want to read and review my book?
The first picture is my author photo for INCOGNITO, which did get reviewed. Maybe they like long hair? The second picture is my current author photo for MR. MALCOLM'S LIST. Apparently it's not generating much interest. Here are some other choices:
Personally, I think I make a hot Mona Lisa. (Don't I look a little like Neve Campbell?)
For more information about me and my book, please visit http://www.suzanneallain.com/. (Warning: My book is about as serious as my doctored photo of Marie Antoinette. Tolstoy it is not.)
Click here to listen to the story on NPR:
Friday, March 13, 2009
I'm not sure why the meta data (that's what we folks in the publishing world call the blurb, cover photo, etc.) isn't showing up yet on Amazon.com. Barnesandnoble.com does have everything updated correctly. Here's that link: Mr. Malcolm's List at Barnes and Noble
If you want to know what it's about, and you're too lazy to click on the Barnes and Noble link, here is the back cover blurb:
The Honorable Mr. Malcolm has a secret. This elusive matrimonial prize, long the target of desperate debutantes and their matchmaking mothers, is well known for his fastidiousness. What is not well known is that he has a list of qualifications for his future bride.Sounds intriguing, right? Now I bet there are at least eight of you anxious to read it. (Just don't borrow copies from each other. I've got bills to pay.)
Can any woman hope to win the heart of such a hardened critic? Selina Dalton can only try her best. And when she begins to succeed, Jeremy Malcolm is not sure whether he has discovered the perfect woman…
Or the perfect hoax.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Since I already do plenty of things in life that require effort and that do not result in a paycheck (i.e. laundry, showering, etc.) it is a little difficult for me to add another item to that long list. I also made the time-consuming mistake in my second post of creating a flowchart. For all you would-be or nouveau bloggers out there: Never try to create a flowchart if you are not a nerd. It is a lot harder than you might think, and then all your nerdy friends and relatives tell you how inaccurate it is and how they cannot follow a flowchart when the arrows go in two directions or when some of the items are missing arrows. (By the way, the version you see now is about the 100th version I’ve uploaded. So it is slightly better than version 1, but still far from perfect.) The reason I created a flowchart in the first place is because I realize my blog needs some kind of visual stimuli. But since this is a highbrow, conceptual blog (I bet you didn’t realize that, did you?) the pictures require effort, too, and I’ve got to get some napping in sometime.
For those of you who thought that this blog was about life in the high stakes world of publishing, I exhausted that topic in my first post. I hate themes; they box you in. Let’s try to think outside the box, people. (I wonder if a picture of a box would work here. No? Back to the drawing board, no pun intended.) But, since I am trying to promote my new book, Mr. Malcolm’s List, I will tell you that I received the proof copy from the printer Monday and it is absolutely beautiful. Well worth the $10.95 price tag, hint, hint. I’m still not sure what the actual release date is; apparently it hits Amazon.com when Amazon.com feels like updating their catalog. But it should be sometime this month from what I’ve been told.
In the meantime, I’m going to release a Kindle edition, for all you Kindle owners out there. (Maybe a link placed here would make this blog feel interactive. Here’s a link to Amazon.com’s Kindle: Kindle 2: Amazon's New Wireless Reading Device (Latest Generation))
I’m also thinking of publishing a short book of humorous essays in Kindle edition. My next blog entry will contain a sample for your reading enjoyment. (I was going to include it in this blog entry but I just realized I could stretch this one post into two, which will mean I can go take a shower or do some laundry or something.)
Also, until I come up with some better illustration ideas, here’s a picture of my cat, Lily:
(Here's an obscure grammatical challenge for all you grammar geeks: Am I supposed to capitalize the "a" in a title if it's part of the word "A Lot" as in, "Writing a Blog is A Lot Like Homework"? Or is it supposed to be: "Writing a Blog is a Lot Like Homework"? Or even: "Writing a Blog is a lot Like Homework"?)
I think I just proved my point.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
So here is a little damage control: I did not actually proof my book all on my own. I am fortunate enough to possess an older sister who corrects other people’s grammar as a hobby. (This is not necessarily a hobby that endears one to others, unless one happens to have a younger sister who needs her manuscript copy-edited.) So I convinced her to help me out, because all small business owners know that unpaid labor is the best kind of labor there is.
WARNING: The following contains highly technical information. If you are not a computer geek, please follow the flow chart…oh, wait, you can’t do that if you’re not a computer geek. Well, never mind.
I hate Adobe. Okay, that’s not too technical. All the salivating computer geeks are now bored with my blog and are headed back to their white papers. (And now my book will be boycotted by French people and Adobe Developers.) But it really defies comprehension that such an illogical, awkward-to-use software became the industry standard in the design world. If anyone has ever had to get a file ready for printing they will understand where I’m coming from. (So now I’m connecting with like, 1 person out of the 8 or so who actually read this blog. Way to be relevant, Suzy. You go, girl.) I know it’s cool to hate Microsoft because they’re the big, bad software giant, but at least they’ve got decent documentation and their software is fairly user-friendly. But Adobe is like: “Let’s hide half our settings in an obscure place, like a printer properties box, and then let’s put the other half in a different program, and then we’ll make those settings counteract the first ones. And we’ll give all the settings names that don’t make any sense, like ‘Save the PDF settings in the Adobe PDF.’ We’ll charge users an exorbitant amount for our overly-complicated software, provide documentation that never answers their questions, and watch in glee as they all slit their wrists in frustration.” (Maniacal laughter follows.)
DISCLAIMER - Any personal opinions expressed in this blog are not intended to offend the reader and are in no way representative of LeMoyne House or its authors. Herewith, aforesaid, forementioned, party of the first part, legalese, etc. etc. etc
That sounds official, right?
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Well, I guess I’m a narcissistic fool with nothing better to do because here it is, my first blog entry.
I decided in January to begin my own publishing business, not realizing the magnitude of the project I’d undertaken. My first book, INCOGNITO, was published by a division of Time Warner, now known as Hachette books. (That is not pronounced the same way as “hatchet”, by the way. I learned this when I called them up to question them about my royalty payments and they treated me even worse than they had when they were known simply as AOL Time Warner. Apparently you pronounce Hachette in the French way, with your nose up in the air and with a feeling of superiority toward whomever you’re speaking. It sounds something like “Hay–shette” but if you were to say it that way I’m sure they’d correct you.)
Since I’ve already admitted to being a bit of an egotist, it may not surprise you to learn that I thought I could do a much better job publishing my second book, MR. MALCOLM’S LIST, than a publishing company that’s been around for dozens of years. (Actually, I’m not sure how long they’ve been around and am too lazy to look it up. I’m not getting paid to write this, after all, and it’s common knowledge that all information on the internet is of questionable accuracy.) So I went through the many steps involved in self-publishing, and found it tedious, complicated, and incredibly frustrating.
I neglected to consider that a publishing house is usually not a one-person show. They have designers, editors, proof-readers and myriad other employees on staff who specialize in only one aspect of the publishing process. But I am not easily deterred. So I applied for my ISBN numbers, signed up with a printer, designed a cover, learned the ins-and-outs of Adobe Distiller (or enough to get by) and spent hours verifying highly controversial grammatical portions of my manuscript were correct, such as whether or not a comma goes inside a quote that is inside another quote. (I’m still not entirely sure I know the answer to that one. Apparently it depends on whether you’re British or American. Since my novel is set in Britain but I’m American, I was faced with quite the conundrum.) I said to myself, “This is a quote, but if I were to recite some bit of poetry here, like ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud,’ I’d have another quote inside my first quote and then I’d have to figure out if I put the comma inside the inside quote or whether or not I should even use a comma.” It’s quite the exciting life I lead as a publisher/editor/designer/grammarian.
Surprisingly enough, one of the hardest parts of this whole process has been the writing of one little paragraph, called the author’s bio. I hate the bio. I know it’s not strictly necessary, but if my little book doesn’t have a photo and bio paragraph on the inside back page I’ll feel like it’s not quite the equal of all the other books out there and it may be sneered at. I wouldn’t want that for my little book. But every time I think of the bio, this anti-authoritarian, rebellious feeling wells up inside me, like society wants to define me by what school I went to, where I’ve worked and whether I’m single or childless. Who cares? Does that kind of list really describe my soul, my heart, who I am, really? How can society want such a sterile, pretentious, dried-up thing as an author’s bio? So this is what I came up with instead:
Suzanne Allain is a philosopher, a poet, a sage, and a jester. She is the embodiment of everything and the substance of nothing. She is every woman you know and yet you’ve never met anyone like her. She is self-effacing, modest, and above all else, absolutely ridiculous.
What do you think?