Saturday, December 21, 2013

Review: All Gone: A Memoir of My Mother's Dementia With Refreshments by Alex Witchel

Dear Literary Loves,
I'm spending the last two weeks of 2013 reading several memoirs, one of which is entitled All Gone:  A Memoir of My Mother's Dementia With Refreshments by Alex Witchel.  Since I have never experienced having a parent with severe dementia or Alzheimer's disease I thought it might be interesting to see how a Generation Xer or Baby Boomer handles losing a parent to this type of illness.  First, the author's mom develops dementia as a result of a blocked artery that leads to a series of strokes affecting the memory portion of her brain.  This type of dementia does not progress as quickly as dementia due to Alzheimer's.  And you generally will not see the structural changes in the patient's brain as you would with a person suffering from Alzheimer's disease. 

Ms. Witchel's mom is one heavy feminist and I have to say I was impressed.  The woman taught school and put herself through college in order to obtain a doctorate.  She had four children and was proud to put meals on the table for her family each evening.  She really didn't care if other mothers who devoted their lives to their children looked upon her in a disdainful manner.  She led the life of her dreams and that is what I really admired about her.  Part of what Ms. Witchel associates with the concept of home is her mother's cooking which could get creative at times.  Hence, you will find numerous recipes throughout the book.  It's the realization that her mother is losing her grasp on executive function, or the steps involved in accomplishing a given task, that the family first realizes something is quite wrong with their mother. 

What causes a stroke?  Well, the biggest factor can be smoking and according to the specialist treating Ms. Witchel's mom, that is largely what gave rise to her mother's stroke-related dementia.  The first signs of this dementia occur when Ms. Witchel asks her mother for family recipes and when she goes to make some of those recipes, her mother has left out a portion or the recipe is completedly different from what Ms. Witchel remembers it to be.  There comes a time when the mom forgets how to cook period.  When the author's mom can no longer work as a professor or follow a lecture, she tells the family she has lost her confidence.  She has lost this because she's losing some of the best parts of herself.  This leads to visiting a host of doctors; most are good at dealing with the disease, but there is one specialist neither Alex or her mother would want to see again.  More alarms go off when her mother does not recall her grandson, that a daughter has cancer, and why she was taken to the emergency room upon having fallen at home.  Alex utilizes cooking as a means of remembering her mother as she once was as well as to escape from the bombardment of decisions she must make regarding her mother's care, surgeries, medication, etc.  Alex gets to a point where she is so wrapped up in her mother's care, she forgets to care for herself and at times, her husband.  This is familiar territory for me as this happened to me helping my father through a stem cell transplant. 

I think what saves Ms. Witchel is the realization that part of who someone is to you is your perception of them.  So in the end, Ms. Witchel knows that her mother is physically there with the family, but oftentimes not mentally or emotionally like the mother the family once new.  And that's okay because there are times when Ms. Witchel does see a twinkling light of recognition that her mother, as she once was, is still inside the woman sitting at lunch with her.  In the end what we see is how one woman is balancing career, marriage, and caretaking today in a similar, but different manner than her mother did for her own family members previously.   You definitely see the commonalities between mother and daughter throughout the book in what they value and how they lead their lives.  And to me, that's the best gift any mother could leave with a daughter particularly when they both are admirable, noble, and strong-willed women of different generations.
Until my next review,
Grace (Amy)

Monday, December 9, 2013

Review: Coming Clean by Kimberly Rae Miller: A Memoir

Dear Literary Loves,
Since my last post I have finished reading the memoir Coming Clean by Kimberly Rae Miller.  Judging just by the title you might be led to think this is a memoir about a person going to detox at a drug rehab center, but essentially, it chronicles her life growing up as the daughter of two parents who are considered diagnostically to be hoarders.  Interestingly, of the two parents, her father appears to have the worst case of the illness.  He collects everything inclusive of  paper and gadgets that need repair.  Her mom initially makes a gallant attempt to keep the home in livable condition; however, later due to illness and surgery, the mom becomes confined to the home and she starts collecting all sorts of various products from various home shopping clubs.  It gets to the point where the whole bedroom is a collection of products from Home Shopping Network.  The house is perfectly described by the author.  There are piles of paper, gadgets, boxes, etc piled to the ceiling.  The refrigerator becomes neglected and there is moldy food.  There are insect carcasses and rats.  I started to wonder halfway through the book why the house wasn't condemned, but the curtains were kept drawn and no one but the UPS or FEDEX delivery folks ever seemed to visit. 
Obviously, the author dealt with a heavy amount of shame over all this.  She would pretend she lived at other homes; she would have friends drop her off at another house as opposed to the in which she actually lived, and she always went to stay at a friend's house as opposed to having anyone over to her own home.   At one point, the author begins taking showers at the local Y because the parents do not have repairs made to the home, including the shower, toilet, and other appliances.  Why?  Because that would lead to someone discovering their secret and potentially turning them in and the whole situation being revealed.  It could quite possibly have meant that her parents would be homeless and that they could have lost custody of their daughter. 
What I found most interesting is that even though the author's parents frustrate the heck out of her because she is constantly still having to go in to their residence and clean, pack, and help move them, she still fundamentally loves her parents.  She wants them to get help, but realizes that you can't make someone get the help they so desperately need.  Today, the author keeps a clean and sparse apartment in New York.  She does experience some remnants of PTSD though as she is obsessively compulsive regarding cleanliness, neatness, and constantly purging that which is not essential from the apartment. 
I was moved by this particular memoir enough to write the author; however, I am sorry to say that she did not send a return email.  I think authors do a disservice to themselves, their experience, and their book when they do not take the time to interact with their readership.  It is one extra element to being an effective marketer I know better than anyone that as a potential debut author, you need all the PR help you can get, in spades.
Until my next read,
Grace (Amy)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thanksgiving Adventures

Dear Literary Loves,
Wow!  Well, Thanksgiving was definitely not boring!  First, I would like to let all of you know that my most recent vertigo episodes were determined to be due to Meniere's disease which I have had since age eighteen.  The MRI definitively proved that none of the dizziness was due to a mini stroke or anything else.  I will continue the Histamine injections which are proving quite successful in stopping any and all vertigo.  And I've been impressed that I have learned how to give myself a shot and not pass out or faint in the process. 
Since a former teaching colleague of mine has an advanced form of colon cancer, I called my parents and asked if we could reverse visits for the holidays this year so I could visit with my former teaching teammate.  Thus, Bruce and I commenced driving I-85 North from Georgia to North Carolina.  We stopped at California Dreaming for lunch.  I had my usual baked potato soup and Bruce had a Thai chicken wrap.  Our waitress was distressed about the upcoming holidays.  Her boyfriend recently left her afte five years only to marry the next gal he started dating.  I encouraged the girl not to fret.  The best revenge is to live well, be happy, and look good or in other words, pull a Lady Gaga.  Plus, I told her that rash decisions like the one her former beau made usually don't bode well for the person in the long run.  By the time we left the restaurant, our waitress had a whole new perspective on life and was smiling.  Mission accomplished.  Back on the road again Bruce and I were doing just fine until mile marker seventeen in Gastonia where all six lanes of I-85 came to a screeching halt due to a tanker colliding with several cars.  And gas was distributed all over the highway so the hazardous waste team was dispensed to spread sand all over the highway.  We sat on the highway for well over two hours. 
Next, we arrive at my mom and dad's house to discover that my mom had fallen and broken her wrist.  No lie, she got up from a nap to answer the phone, tripped, and all her weight fell on her wrist.  She's due to see an orthopaedic surgeon on Monday.  This may require surgery to reset the bone properly and wearing a cast for quite some time.  This incident led to my brother and dad assisting with the completion of the holiday meal.  Let's put it this way, the fire alarm was set off on multiple occasions, but we managed to have a great holiday meal.  I led the clean up crew following our meal. 
I have to admit that though I have heard about the show Duck Dynasty, I have never actually watched the show.  The brothers that make up the family remind me of my brother and I sent him a Thanksgiving card portraying the Duck Dynasty family having a holiday meal together.  Needless to say, by Thursday evening Bruce, Keegan, dad, and myself were watching back to back episodes of Duck Dynasty which is a riot.  My favorite family member is Si; he lives life unfiltered which is how I like it.  And the best episode in my opinion is when Si teaches Willie's daughter how to drive.
Friday, I went to visit my former teaching partner who is battling stage four colon cancer.  I was glad I did.  She's holding up well against multiple radiation and chemotherapy treatments.  It doesn't surprise me as she is from good stock, but man, cancer is a beast.
I absolutely have to partake of North Carolina barbecue when I am home.  Mom and dad took Bruce and I to Stamey's barbecue in Greensboro, N.C.  It was to die for, let me tell you.  And the hushpuppies alone are worth the wait.  We got there early which was fortunate because by the time we left the line was winding out the door to the parking lot.   Everybody in Greensboro seemed to have the exact same hunger as I did.  Imagine that?!
Bruce and I made our way back to Georgia in record time.  No accidents to hold us up.  There were some insane drivers.  One woman who was driving a Benz had the overhead light on in the car, was doing at least 85 miles per hour, and texting while driving.  And I don't know who was more overjoyed to be home:  Bruce and me or our two cats, Romeo and Chewie.  It was a pleasant holiday with the exception of mom's injury and as always, our lives are never ever boring.   
Until next time,
Grace (Amy)

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Authors! Answer Your Email!!

Dear Literary Loves,
I don't know if you've had this particular pet peeve of mine, but lately, I have been reading quite a lot of memoirs and commercial fiction and subsequently writing the authors of said books only to receive no response!  Is this not rude or what?!  I mean, honestly, if readers didn't buy your books for God's sake, then you wouldn't have a livelihood, Comprende?!!!  Here are my reasons why authors should answer their author email or fan email whatever the case may be:

1)  It's Not That Difficult!  Folks, I don't care if you have a 1,000 email backlog!  Just take ten emails a day and work your way through them.  It takes maybe thirty minutes out of your day.  If you can't carve out thirty minutes to answer email then honestly, I'm just appalled!

2)  Readers Enable You To Earn A Living For Crying Out Loud!  Show some respect and drop a line or two via the great world wide web and make someone's day.  And also ensure they think highly of you and are more likely to buy your next book!  Do I sound like a professor yet?!  Oh, that's right!  I am a teacher so I have a right to go on a rant!

3)  Wake Up!  It's Flattering!  Can you imagine that some person in this country or some other part of the world actually connected with your writing and your story?  I mean, really, that's quite a feat when you think about it.  At the minimum at least send a thank you email.

4)  Make Connections!  Honestly, if you don't answer your author email, how in the world do you expect to develop your fan base?  If you don't answer an email you might be seriously offending someone important so get with the program!  Wise up and jot a note, then hit send; it's quite simple.

5)  Add To Your LinkedIn Connections!   This is a fabulous way to build up that 1,248 connections on LinkedIn so people realize that you actually are well-connected to a wide variety of people and not just those in publishing. 

6)  Discover What Your Fan Base Would Like You To Write About!  Seriously, if you are an author and you have a Web site and a contact page people will write you and make suggestions for what they would like to see in your future writing.  It's a wealth of book material ideas just waiting to be discovered.  Better yet, you could base a character in your next book on someone you meet via your author contact page.  Who knows!  The possibilities are endless!

7)  It's Just Good PR People!  These folks are your target audience.  If you don't sincerely mean for your fan base to contact you, then do not supply your Web site information on the back of a book flap.  And don't put a contact page on your author Web site if you never intend to get back to folks that write you.  It's just bad form and taste.

8)  Create An Email Directory From Your Contact List!  Here's the beauty of having a contact page as a writer/author:  you can build a contact/email directory of folks who would like to be informed early on about your next work in progress.  These are your fans, don't disappoint them!

And For Those Authors Who I Have Written And You Never Bothered To Respond:

Guess what?  If I bought your book, read it, and took the time to write you I surely do expect a response!   I don't care if it does take you a month.  Those writers/authors who do not respond to my email should know that after a reasonable amount of time waiting for a response, I promptly place your book in a recycling bin or take it to a resale book store.  And guess what?  I don't buy any more books from you.  Comprende?!

Now Get Crackin' On That List Of Return Emails You Need To Make!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Is It Meniere's Disease Or A Mini Stroke??

Dear Literary Loves,
Well, usually I take this the time in this forum to review a memoir I have just finished reading or discuss what is happening in the search for a literary agent.  And sometimes I give my opinion on what I read in Publishers Weekly, like why Harlequin is losing money (see last post).  Last week I went to Emory Hospital for balance/dizziness tests to see how far my Endolymphatic Hydrops or Meniere's disease has progressed.  After two hours of testing in which I wore goggles with an embedded camera while being shaken and then seated in a chair that then tilts you to the right and left to see how well you can maintain balance.  The diagnostic doctor was looking for eye movements that go along with Meniere's disease.  Additionally, I had a moving spotlight test in which I followed a red beaming light with both eyes as it went back and forth at jet speed.  Finally, I put on the goggles
with an embedded camera and experienced hot and cold water being shot into both ears.  This tests how many balance cells remain active in both ears.  I failed on the left side completely.  There was absolutely no onset of dizziness during any of the water treatments to the left ear.  My inner ear cells that control balance in the left ear have been destroyed after living with Meniere's disease since age eighteen. 
Here's the interesting part:  the diagnostic doctor gave me several neurological tests also.  I failed one test with flying colors.  It's the test where they blindfold you and then take a hold of the right foot and move the big toe up or down; you have to tell them which direction without looking.  I failed on the right side and was perfect with the left foot.  The doctor kept repeating so I could tell he was concerned that I could not for the life of me pass this test.  And that's when he said "We have to make sure that you have not lost positional frame of reference due to a small stroke."  If I hadn't already had a stroke, I just about had one right then.  I kept thinking, surely I would know if I had suffered a stroke?  Not necessarily.  When I have dizzy spells now they just hit without warning.  I could be standing at the kitchen sink washing dishes and vertigo occurs that leaves me on my knees on the kitchen floor.  At this point I usually reach into my jean pocket and take my medicine or try to crawl and reach my medication.  It's scary to think that all this time I thought my dizziness was stemming from Meniere's disease when I might truly have been experiencing a mini stroke which runs in my family maternally and paternally. 
Did you see the Houston Texans' football coach drop to his knees during last Sunday night's NFL game?  Everyone  was running to the locker rooms at halftime and he fell to his knees on the field.  They took him out on a stretcher.  He had an MRI and they must have discovered a clot because he was then placed on intravenous clot busting medication.  I'll know for sure next Wednesday when I have a gad/MRI and then see the diagnostic doctor at Emory about an hour afterward.  I am trying not to stress about finding a literary agent.  Hell, if I have to I will just self-publish.  I don't need the stress of waiting forever for an agent to recognize I have meaningful manuscripts and could be the next Kathryn Stockett.  I would love to go the traditional route in publishing by having an agent, but I can only wait so long.  If I have to design my own path to publishing I will because it's not like I'm not a resourceful person.  Sometimes you just have to design/build your own form of the yellow brick road, you know?!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Why Harlequin's Profits Are Tumbling

Dear Literary Loves,
I read today that Harlequin's profits are down and obviously not meeting expectations.  I took a look at the Harlequin Web site and it was obvious to me that they are not producing enough books in the hottest genre today:  Memoir.   Well, it might help if the editors opened their "in" boxes to potentially taking on unsolicited manuscripts; however, I won't hold my breath for that to happen.  There were only seven memoirs listed on the site and I do not think they were published recently.  This obviously has to change.  The chick lit book listings had a good variety; however, the pet section only had three books listed and they were all about dogs.  Hello?!!  What about those of us who are cat lovers?!  And here's another good question:  Why are most of the Harlequin imprints open to unsolicited queries, but not Harlequin nonfiction?  I was not overly impressed with the selection of books in the family/relationships category either.  Harlequin  needs to broaden the nonfiction selection of books they are producing.  In fact, when I think of Harlequin I think of romance.  If you want me to think of Harlequin as a serious player in nonfiction publishing today, you have got to broaden the nonfiction base.  My work is available:  I have a memoir, a humor/gift book about cats, and a fictional account of a teacher's first year in an inner city school where the original teacher left and there are no substitute teachers willing to take on a particularly rowdy group of kids that are already a month and a half behind on the year's curriculum.  Harlequin:  you can contact me at or via this blog.  I'm looking forward to helping you get back in the black.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Review: Moonlight Sonata at the Mayo Clinic by Nora Gallagher

Dear Lit Loves,
Oh my goodness, I loved this book.  I will keep hard copy of this book.  If you've ever dealt with chronic illness or cared for someone who has chronic illness, you should get this book.  It's a fairly quick read, but you will learn how to decipher the medical establishment.  Trust me, I help people do this exact task all the time because of all the experience I have with the medical system.  Ms. Gallagher starts having blurred vision on the edges of the vision field in her right eye.  She is treated for Uveitis.  This is serious business.  I have Uveitis.  And I've had it since I was sixteen years of age! It's not something you hand over to any tom, dick, or harry eye doctor.  Uveitis is inflammation of the vessels, nerves, and tissues in the eye area.  It causes me to see the cells in my eye during the day or at night.  Ms. Gallagher also starts experiencing fatigue and soon her doctors are looking for an underlying cause of her Uveitis.  I am speaking about an underlying autoimmune disorder whereby your own immune system decides to go haywire and attack your bodily organs like they are foreign invaders.  That's why I advised getting a specialist.  Ms. Gallagher witnesses what it is like to go from being a normal, health person living in the land of the normal to taking up residence in what she likes to call Oz, the land of the sick. 
Ms. Gallagher sees all kinds of doctors and finally goes to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for diagnosis and care.  It's scary, but the Mayo Clinic tries to put patients at ease by putting patients first.  There is even a spiritual center whereby you can leave a prayer or note to whomever you believe in on a prayer wall.  She and I like to think that Jesus is the collector of all these notes.  Eventually, Ms. Gallagher's underlying autoimmune disorder is identified and she has a treatment plan; however it took travel, multiple doctors, and endless amounts of patience.  I know becaue I've been to Oz and am currently residing there.  If you have ever wondered what would happen to you if your life or the life of someone you love is turned upside down by illness, you should find this book and acquaint yourself with a "how-to" plan on dealing with chronic illness and the medical community.  Now, fortunately for Ms. Gallagher and I, we have adequate health insurance, but what if you didn't have that either?  That's a book for someone else to write, although you will still gain a lot of strength and enlightenment from this book.  I know because I did and I hope someone publishes my books so I can help someone as much as Ms. Gallagher's book helped me.
Happy Reading!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

How To Succeed In Publishing

Sometimes when it comes to getting published it is necessary
 to do the following:

1)  Knock on the door.

2)  If no response, bang on the door.

3)  If still no response, DROP KICK THE DAMN DOOR DOWN.



Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Review: A Three Dog Life by Abigail Thomas

Dear Literary Loves,
Okay folks, I am waiting to hear from about seven literary agents.  I think they all went to the Frankfurt Book Festival over in Germany.  Eventually, I hope, they will get to my query and manuscript; however, in the meantime, I've been reading books.  Most recently, I read A Three Dog Life by Abigail Thomas.  First, to be honest, I started this book on three different occasions, put it down because it was overly depressing, and then felt guilty for not finishing it.  Stephen King endorsed the book; however, what the hell does he know about writing good memoir?  I'm not dissing Stephen King, but I'm just pointing out that I don't think he has ever written anything in the genre. So for a fourth time, I picked up the book and read it over two days.  Basically, the author's husband suffers an immense tragedy.  The tragedy is related to the dog that the author wanted, but I don't think the husband really cared for all that much.  Chaos ensues along with a hefty amount of time in an intensive care unit.  The author's husband basically suffers traumatic brain injury; he's never going to be himself again and his short term memory is shot.  Heroically, the author and a home health aide/nurse attempt to bring the husband home to live, but it is just overwhelming.  He goes to reside
in a care facility in upstate New York.
Basically, for several years the author deals with survivor's guilt and understandably so.  She acquires three dogs during this time and they essentially become her new reality and family.  She sells her New York City apartment and buys a home near the care facility where her husband resides.  Ironically, she discovers that she is happier with her life now.  Would she like to have her husband and his intact mind back?  Absolutely, but she doesn't retreat from society or completely shut down as a human being.  She keeps evolving which many women I have known cannot do.  I think women sometimes cling to a partner that is bad for them because they are too scared of being alone or they think they are too old to find another significant other.  And that's a shame because the only one in that situation who is getting the short end of the stick is the woman.  Never settle for less than what you deserve or desire. 
Till my next update and review,

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Review: Heads In Beds by Jacob Tomsky

Dear Literary Loves,
I think all the literary agents flew to Germany for The 2013 Frandfurt Book Festival because I haven't heard from one this week; however, on the bright side, four publishers now have my next manuscript entitled Where The Hell Is My Yellow Brick Road?!  So in the middle of sending doc. files of my manuscript to publishers, I picked up Heads In Beds by Jacob Tomsky.  Lord, this book reads like a front desk clerk's manifesto on managing hotel properties and owners.  First, I don't think the author really planned to spend his life in the hotel industry.  Like a lot of people he just tried to bloom where planted.  Thankfully, he starts out in New Orleans and the south where people generally inquire as to your health and don't slam doors in your face ( I'm looking at you Boston).  He gets his first start as a parking attendant which also leads to a whole level of craziness outside the hotel.  Cars getting mismanaged, stopped on a dime, dinged, and finally two parking attendants take a rumble in the parking lot of the hotel.  Damn.  I always like the parking attendants as they know the city better than the city visitor's center.  Now I will be extra wary about who drives off with my car when valet parking is offered.
Next, he gets promoted to front desk attendant on the night shift which to me was the best post for him due to most of the hotel being asleep.  He also gets to take on laundry manager which was no special thrill either.  Finally, he winds up in a hotel in New York as a front desk manager and appears to be truly figuring out the system.  He now knows how to get guests to tip the bellman and utilize the bellmen; he knows how to upgrade a customer to receive a great tip; and he has learned how to cope with irate customers.  Management at this particular hotel is not fond of him and appears to want to get rid of him; however, much to my surprise and his praise, he belongs to a union which makes it next to impossible for management to fire him.  He does have a hostile outburst with management, but in my mind, rightly so.  I think they just wanted to make life hell for him so he would quit, but no, the best revenge is staying on and keeping his job.  And man can this guy tell you how to work a hotel system to your advantage.

Here is my customer manifesto to a hotel front desk staff which I developed on the back flap of this book while reading:

1)  If a parking attendant shreds any part of my car I am likely to sue because guess what?  It is the hotel's liability. 
2)  To parking attendants/valets:  Please remember to move my sit back to its original position and that is not with the driver's seat located in the back of the car.  I tip well and deserve seriously good service.
3)  I always utilize a bellman.  I especially like those that help me get my suitcase and belongings out of a taxi and up to a room.  Bonus points if the bellman is a conversationalist and inquires about where I'm from and assures me if I need anything to contact him. 
4)  I especially appreciate bellmen who manhandle any homeless person who is trying to berate me or rob me on my way back to my hotel.  (I'm looking at you Baltimore). 
5)  If I can't arrive at the hotel on time, trust me, I will notify you. 
6)  I am never jumping up and down to stay in a hotel because I prefer my house.  There is no luxury hotel that is better than my own home.  Okay, maybe a hotel in the Caribbean with a spa, but that's about it.
7)  Honestly, if I call the front desk and inform you there are no fresh towels, please do not send someone to bang on my hotel door and deposit a laundry bag of new towels that haven't even been folded.  Next time, I'll just book a room with a washer and dryer and do my own towels thank you very much.
8)  The room attendant should never keep asking how long I am staying, when I will check-out, and also lecture me on leaving tips with her/him instead of the front desk.  They never have good things to say about the front desk staff by the way.
9)  The best hostesses, assistant managers, managers, front desk attendants, wait staff are those that know I am a repeat customer.  They give me exceptional service and I tip well.  Case closed.
10)  If you have anger management issues with hotel management I would highly suggest finding a good gym membership because it's so much better than getting fired or worse, having a stroke due to all the stress a boss can throw your way. 

Bon Voyage!
Grace (Amy)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Why A Literary Agent Should Sign Me

Dear Literary Loves,
I am writing this blog posting because it has become apparent to me that many literary agents need some serious convincing that I could be their next big break-out writer.  No kidding.  On that note, henceforth allow me to count the benefits of signing me as a new, debut author:

1)  I Am A Former English Teacher:  I hold a Bachelor's and Master's in Communications.  I have taught writing to many different types and classes of people.  Not only am I familiar with middle and high school age folks, I have also worked as an editor for college students and their many essays and thesis papers.  I edit for my tech consulting husband in relation to any tech articles he writes for magazines and journals. You never have to worry if a manuscript or proposal from me is going to arrive clean and free of errors. 

2)  I Write Both Fiction And Nonfiction:  I don't like to limit myself as a writer.  I truly am dedicated to the memoir genre, but I also have manuscripts in the genre of fiction.  I even write "light" pieces that are related to my love of felines.  I like diversity and it shows in my already completed three manuscripts.

3)  I Can Stage A Massive Book Party:  I plan on hosting a major southern-themed book party whenever my first book is published.  This party will have to be a floating book party with a time span of a couple of hours because that is how many people want to come.  Also, I used to stage events for a tech company so I'm used to hosting large gatherings.

4)  I Have Three Manuscripts Completed:  I'm serious.  These babies are waiting for an editor to take them to the next level and embrace them as much as I do.  It can't happen soon enough.

5)  I Have My Own Web Site:  Oh yes, I decided to launch my own writer/author Web site before I found an agent or editor because I wanted to be a part of the social media network.  Okay, it helps that my husband is a tech guru with many software engineering friends.

6)  I Have No Problems With Public Speaking:  I never had to take courses in public speaking in college because I passed an exam that ensured that I didn't need to sit through the specifics of learning how to speak well in public.  I am a former teacher.  You have to also be an actress when you teach in order to hold the attention and interest of twelve to eighteen year olds, trust me.

7)  I Write About Moving Experiences:  I write about those critical moments in our lives when we've got to step up to the plate or get out of the game entirely.  I like real, true stories and the nitty-gritty of life because it helps us all grow personally.  And my teaching motto is and always has been:  Know thyself well.  I can also take the experiences of others and bring them to life in fiction with names changed of course.

8)   My Manuscripts Generally Feature Strong Female Leads:  I am all about the female hero.  I'm generally going to read books about a woman making a difference in the world before I ever pick up a book where a man is the protagonist.  Why?  Because we need strong women and we need women who can break barriers in relation to today's culture.

9)  I Regularly Blog:  I have had my blog for two years now.  I often write about the chaos I have experienced trying to mesh with the publishing industry; it's been intriguing.  Additionally, I regularly critique quite a few memoirs on my blog.  I'm not shy about saying what I liked about a book, what I thought was confusing about a book, and why I would or would not recommend the book to other folks.

10)  I Know My Genres:  It's putting it mildly to say I like the memoir genre.  I feed off and learn from the experiences of others.  I know what is on the shelves at Barnes and Noble that is similar to my book and I can quickly and succinctly tell you why my book stands out from the rest.  Also, I know what I want to read about and I know what is not on the shelves that I think would make a great book.

People keep asking me:  Grace (Amy) when is your book going to be published?  Most of these same people know I have three manuscripts in the wings and are as utterly anxious as I am to see those books in a concrete and creative form.  I'm trying to get there folks, but I need an agent and editor that can run this race as quickly and effectively as I can.  Comprende?!
Till Next Time,
Grace (Amy)

Monday, September 23, 2013

Review: Mother Daughter Me by Katie Hafner

Dear Lit Lovies,
I am waiting to hear from literary agents and a publisher so in the meantime I have stocked up on my memoir reading library.  I just finished reading Mother Daughter Me by Katie Hafner yesterday evening.  I read this book, about three generations of women trying to coexist together after a history of bitter family turmoil, with intrigue.  I had to put the book down on several occasions because I kept getting disgusted with the major players in the story.  First, I have to say it's a gutsy move to attempt having your mom live with you and your teenage daughter.  In my experience, I have never seen this dynamic happen at any time in my life without disastrous consequences.  Given the author's erratic history with her mom, I have to say I thought her decision to invite her mom to reside with she and her daughter to be generous, but irrational.  The interesting and often hysterical parts of this book occur when the author and her mother both attempt to achieve a sense of peace by going to therapy.....................together.   It was at this point in the book when I said to myself this is not going to end well.  I found the author's upbringing to be tragic.  Her mom came across as quite self-absorbed and that's putting it mildly.  The father who I believe was a college dean appeared disaffected by the whole concept of family.  He is a college dean, but when it comes time for his daughter to go to college, he vows that he doesn believe in college.  And he surely doesn't want to help pay for the college education of his two daughters.  Honestly, I don't know why the author even tried with either parent after she became an adult.  I would have high-tailed it away from both parents and never looked back.
I felt the most sympathy for the author's sister who appears to have fallen through the cracks in life and no one bothered to care, much less help her.  This sister was probably bipolar even though the author never identifies it as such; however, given the nature of her upbringing I am surprised that she coped as well as she did.  I absolutely could not stand the doctor who the author is dating.  Yes, he listens, has dry humor, and makes a decent living, but as soon as I found out that he kept spreadsheets on each of the women he dated in order to obviously keep them straight, I was seething and pronouncing him an anal-retentive jerk.  The author's daughter appears to be initially put in the middle of a war zone and she wisely makes the decision that she will not engage herself in the passivie-aggressive battles going on between her mother and grandmother.  She does do what many teenagers are very good at doing and that is pulling the wool over an adult's eyes. Forgive me, but I saw a lot of teenage surprises coming before the mother ever did not because I am a mom, but because I have taught teenagers.  I was left wondering though that even eight years after her father's death if she had really dealt with the bitter reality of what losing him cost her.  I kept wondering if, after this author did not have the opportunity to benefit from psychotherapy during her precarious upbringing, why did she not go get the best psychotherapist for her daughter?  The ending of the book left me with more questions than answers so if you are expecting a tidy closure, don't hold your breath. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Publisher Requesting; Agent Yet To Be Found

Dear Lit Loves,
Wouldn't you know it?!  Here's my luck:  I have an editor from a New York publishing house requesting both my memoir and my latest women's fiction manuscripts and I have yet to be signed by an agent.  Editors and I get along like bread on butter because well, I was an editor.  After you've taught The Writing Workshop with almost 130 students for several years, trust me, you know how to edit.  So I'm sending out the book queries and champing at the bit to get this show on the road.  If you know of any literary agents that are hungry for the next big southern writer, please send them my way.
Grace (Amy)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Yes, Publishing Is Tough; However, You Don't Just Give Up

Dear Lit Loves,
Oh Lord.  I am telling you it is a godsend that I have not lost my mind during the endeavor to become a published author.  Seriously.  What's happening as of late?  Well, yesterday I had an agent respond to my query with the notice that this is a tough book and she's a small outfit so she'll pass.  I'm not sure if she meant it is a gutsy book?  It's a book with a female hero?  It's a book that addresses some tough subjects in society today?  Well Hell, yes, yes, and yes.  By the way, have you met a truly feminist southern belle?  If not, welcome to my blog!  We do tough around here and we do it well.  If I gave up on every endeavor of mine that was tough, I would have been gone a long time ago.  What makes me so assured about my ability to shake my fist at the world you ask?  Well, let's see.  I survived bacterial meningitis at age four while the friend I contracted it from died.  At age sixteen, I was diagnosed with uveitis, an inflammatory eye disorder that can lead to blindness.  At age eighteen, I was given the diagnosis as the youngest Meniere's Disease patient ever seen at a major university hospital.  They also told me I would probably be deaf by this point in my life.  I assure you that I am so not deaf.  I rather enjoy listening to Mick Jagger and The Rolling Stones cranked up on my Mach stereo system in my vintage Mustang thank you very much.  I developed glaucoma at age thirty-two and survived seven surgeries.  Guess what?  Just got back today from seeing my glaucoma surgeon and we are doing well my peeps.  I also have Cogan's Syndrome, an inflammatory autoimmune disorder that gives rise to both glaucoma and Meniere's Disease.  My dad has survived Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma twice, and most recently with a stem-cell transplant.  My mom is a breast cancer survivor.  Aside from my husband, I am the only person I know who heralded their way through six years of college with an "A" in every class with the exception of College Algebra.  And College Algebra doesn't count in my opinion because I have never used it one blasted time in my life.

Now look folks, I've taught inner-city middle school and Catholic middle school.  It was no cake walk I assure you because for one I am a five foot two, 110 pound ball of fire and also, my motto can often be summarized as Long Live The Protestant Reformation!  So here's the raw deal; the short and dirty version:  JUST BECAUSE SOMETHING IS TOUGH DOES NOT GIVE YOU PERMISSION TO NOT PURSUE IT!   Are we clear lit loves?  I've been to hell and back in my lifetime and I am telling you I am here to get published; therefore, GET WITH THE PROGRAM!
Over and out literary troops and carry on!
Grace (Amy)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Still Pitching With Intestinal Infection

Dear, Lit Loves,
Oh Lord, let me tell you that you know I'm a dedicated writer when I keep pitching my multiple manuscripts while in the midst of being tested and treated for an intestinal infection!  No kidding. The last time this happened to me (the intestinal infection and not the pitching), I landed in Emory Hospital for ten days.  That stay included antibiotics, steroids, blood draws, and barely being able to eat.  In fact, when I was released from the hospital I had dropped 11 pounds from when I was admitted.  So today I call my gastrointestinal specialist because the symptoms of colitis/intestinal infection are back.  I get a call from her nurse who tells me I have to get in ASAP, but first, I have to call my doctor's secretary to get an appointment.  Guess what?  The dude gave me the fax number and not the phone number!  So then I called the appointment line and informed them the nurse asked me to call the doctor's secretary for an appointment ASAP, but he gave me the fax number and not the phone number.  The appointment receptionist says "Yes, well, I can't give out the phone number".  At this point I ask her can she get me an appointment.  She can't get me in for a visit until three days from now.  I informed her by then I will be completely dehydrated and in an emergency room  She says that is the best she can do!  So then I get crafty and use the fax number to send a message (in all caps) to my doctor and her secretary that reads:  SOMEBODY NEEDS TO SEE ME AS I NEED TO BE SEEN ASAP ACCORDING TO THE NURSE; HOWEVER, NO ONE WILL GIVE ME THE PROPER PHONE NUMBER TO MAKE THE APPOINTMENT.  THE NUMBER I WAS GIVEN IS THIS FAX NUMBER.   I WILL HOLD ALL PARTIES RESPONSIBLE IF I WIND UP SUFFERING ANY INTESTINAL DAMAGE BECAUSE OF THIS DELAY.
Two minutes later, my doctor called.  She got the fax.  She was ready to see me today at 1:30 p.m.  Then not two minutes afer hanging up the phone, the doctor's secretary rings and asks can I come in at 1:30 p.m. today.  Um, yeah. 
I go in and give lab samples along with a lot of other samples and am now waiting to get the results; however, according to my doctor, it appears my colon is not inflammed and she thinks I have the intestinal infection caused my C.Difficile bacteria.  We will not know until tomorrow when all the results come in and it is determined whether I need fluids in house and a boatload of antibiotics.  Joy! In the meantime, I'm still checking my email, getting emails and manuscripts to agents and editors.  I just want the publishing community to know:  I AM DAMNED WELL DETERMINED TO GET MYSELF PUBLISHED COME HELL, HIGH WATER, BACTERIAL INFECTION, OR HOSPITALIZATION!  Somebody, please send me some good news so I can at least enjoy that because I can't eat anything at the moment!
Grace (Amy)

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Review: The World's Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne

Dear Lit Loves,
I'm in the midst of a major reading holiday as it appears the entire publishing population is on vacation.  So I ordered a bunch of books, mainly memoir, because as I tell my husband when he wants to order the movie Avatar from Blockbuster online:  I deal in reality and I don't do blue people.
Just now I finished reading The World's Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne and I am now more
confused about the concept of Tourette's Syndrome than before I read the book.  Essentially, the memoir revolves around this man's experiences with Tourette's, how he learns to cope with it, and how it affects every aspect of his life including the milestones we mark in life like marriage, kids, career, etc.  Initially, I was dismayed that even though there is not a cure for Tourette's, why didn't he or his parents keep investigating ways to alleviate/moderate the tics?  Maybe I'm just incredibly inquisitive when it comes to rare diseases for which there is no cure ( I have three of them by the way); however, I would never not go to the best institutions and researchers in order to get suggestions on remedies.  You'd be surprised what you could gain from entering a clinical trial; trust me, I have.  Did none of the suggested drugs for Tourette's work?  Did he choose not to try them?  There is no extensive information on that part of his experience.  The one thing I noticed that did work for this writer was that when he was engaged in activities that had his full focus whether it was music, weight-lifting, reading, writing, etc. his tics appeared to be less of a problem.  It would stand to reason that if you are engaged in activities that keep you spellbound and engaged, then dopamine levels would be increasing.  Did he ever try any medication that increased dopamine levels?  I don't know because again, there was very little information about his inquiry in that area of treatment. 
What does appear to work for him in resolving the tics is getting his breathing under control which is interesting because at that point I kept wondering, dude, why not try yoga?  Why not go the meditation route?  I noticed that his Tourette's symptoms were aggravated whenever he was in a time of high anxiety or distressed about what was happening around him.  I wanted to know why he didn't seek out several neurologists and why he attempted to cope with all this independently.  There were honestly times when I wanted to give him the name and office location of a friend of mine who is a psychiatrist. 
The one point of agreement I had with him was regarding religion and his questioning of it.  There are people who know/believe and there are those of us still wondering/questioning.  I get where this author is coming from here.  My dad has faith like a rock; he faced down a stem-cell transplant with a firm conviction and faith.  I  went through the stem-cell transplant with him going what the hell are we supposed to learn from this?  Why is this happening to our family?  Let's put it this way, I can really wrestle with God to put it mildly.  Honestly, I don't think if you are questioning your beliefs that you don't have them; I think it's part of the process of building what kind of faith you have.  I certainly don't think it means you have turned your back on your religion.
And I don't think libraries are doomed.  I can assure you I will not be reading books via tablet any time soon or in the near future.  It's just not the way I read or roll. I do think libraries need to do a better job of reaching out to the community and its needs.  For example, there are so many folks in my neck of the woods that have problems speaking English; there are going to be vast groups of people in the last part of the year trying to figure out how to apply for the new healthcare plans online; and would someone please answer why our local libraries do not offer or host book clubs?
If I want to join a book club I go to or Barnes and Noble when the most obvious place it should be held is at a library. 

Friday, August 30, 2013

Getting Published Is A SCREAM!

Dear Lit Loves,
Have I ever spoken about how the publishing world is a real scream and about to drive me witless? The last time I had this much fun I was attempting to teach language arts and social studies to sixth, seventh, and eighth grade inner city middle school students.  This has been a real wicked week particularly because like Freud, the publishing industry seems to shut down during the entire month of August and not return until after Labor Day.  In the meantime, I have read a memoir that annoyed the hell out of me because it was written in a daily journal fashion and the first ten pages made me wonder how on God's green earth this author got published.  And then there was the sinking, nagging feeling of this question:  if a publisher thought this memoir was great, will I ever find a publisher or editor that views my pitches/queries and goes "Yes, Ma├ím!  This is the ticket!" 
And the next thing that happens is I finish my manuscript about teaching in an inner city middle school and all the crossfire that involves.  I would never have gotten through it if not for my team teaching partner.  Speaking of her, she called this week and told me that she learned on Wednesday that her rare form of colon cancer is back with a vengeance.  Of course we were both hoping that maybe what the radiologist found in the lymph node was just a rogue polyp, but not so, for we learned today it is the beast and the beast is angry.  We'll find out next week what her treatment plan is. 
And the really good news this week was that my sibling was a featured extra on the hit television series Under The Dome, Episode 10,  You would have thought I was the featured extra on the show given my excitement.  Even better news was the next big event:  my sibling gets offered a SAG role in a movie that begins filming here in Atlanta in October.  
So while I am waiting to hear from literary agents and publishers who are most likely on vacation and enjoying themselves, I watched the Atlanta Braves and the Atlanta Falcons.  Thank God Jason Heyward was back sitting in the dugout during Tuesday night's game.  I was heartbroken when he got hit in the face by a pitch; it broke his jaw and he had to have surgery that included metal plates. Finally, I watched the Falcons second and third string play the Jaguars last night.  The only bit that worries me is that we have not won a preseason game and no team has ever won the Superbowl and also lost their preseason games.  Now, it is possible.  We have the talent.  And I will feel a whole heck of a lot better when all our starters are playing and remain healthy.  Because like getting published, getting to the Superbowl encompasses a great many factors.  One is luck.  Two is technique.  And three is passion.  And it will never be said that me or my football team do not have passion for what we do.  Let's hope we get properly rewarded for it.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Review: The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

Dear Literary Loves,
Well fellow book lovers, it's quite hard waiting to hear from publishers and literary agents.  Publishers can take forever to review your work I now realize and literary agents only appear to jump into action when there is a deal involving multiple dollar signs as well as your author name attached to it.  Seriously.  Next, I got royally ticked off that my favorite Braves player, Jason Heyward, was hit in the face by a pitcher from the Mets.  The pitch hit Jason in the face and shattered his jaw.  I was so fuming mad the pitcher wasn't suspended I wrote the MLB commissioner.  Never had any use for the Yankees, Mets, or Nationals and still don't to this day.  Finally, my Amazon book order arrived.  Everybody and their mother has been asking me about my thoughts on this one memoir entitled The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.  I had never read it, but most people know I have a rather eccentric family and also wondered what did I think about her recollections of growing up in poverty.  So the first book I pulled from the box was indeed The Glass Castle and here's what I think:
There were several folks who asked me if I thought Ms. Walls had embellished the memoir.  For the most part, I don't think so.  Why?  Because I've come across people who live exactly like her family lived and I have seen people who suffer from the afflictions of alcohol abuse and mental illness which obviously was a factor with both her parents.  I have to admit, there were times when I wondered how in the hell some of this happened.  For instance, when the family was driving in the desert and Jeannette fell out of the car and her father kept on driving.  She lay beside some railroad tracks for a while before they finally came back to get her.  Or the time the police drove up with her parents in the backseat and the neighbors had called to alert police that kids were firing shots at one another from their residence.  I mean, I think the police would have arrested the parents for possessing a firearm that was left openly available to kids.   And even after finishing the book I still wonder how in creation family and children's services never took the kids away from her parents.  I know they liked to do the "skedaddle", but seriously? 
It's a wonder all four kids survived their childhoods in this family.  And you know I would not want to be the instructor from Barnard that questioned what on earth Ms. Walls knew about abject poverty and homelessness; don't you know that woman feels like an idiot now that this book has been published and has done so well?!  I have learned that you can never really know what someone's reality is unless you've walked in their shoes over the course of their lives.  One time I had a student at a private school tell me he didn't have his homework because the maid threw it in the garbage before he could finish his homework and clean up his room.  She had told him explicitly that she was going in with a trash bag and clearing his room so whatever was left out was going to be demolished.  I thought he was kidding.  I called his house to inquire with his mom.  Guess what?  Yes, the family did have a maid and yes, she had thrown away a bunch of paperwork.  Just goes to show that sometimes your assumptions about people can be dead wrong. 
All in all, I liked this memoir.  The opening sentence grabbed me and I liked the short succinct chapters.  I did not read the book in one sitting.  There were times I got so mad at her mom or dad and their irresponsible, selfish parenting that I had to put the book aside and take a break from reading it.  On the whole, what depresses me most is that I have yet to find a agent who can tackle my eccentric family and all their ordeals which I openly write about in a memoir.  Have we gotten to the point where agents are avoiding some of the tough issues in society?  Have we become a population that just wants to read about vampires and werewolves?  Is anyone still open to the human experience and the whole mystery and enlightenment it provides?  I recently read on a literary agent's site that she wanted good nonfiction narratives, but not ones that included cancer, addiction, asinine husbands, and women trying to get back their groove.  Hell woman, I thought to myself, you don't want to read about the human experience then, you just want to read about a perfect reality that doesn't exist.  Call me in ten years and I'll bet you will have changed your tune.  Why?  Because DRAMA SELLS.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Query Perplexities

Dear Literary Loves,
Well bookworms, I finished my second manuscript and was ecstatic!   So while a publisher has the first manuscript and is evaluating it, I begin querying literary agents for the second book.  To query is to basically send literary agents a one page concise letter telling them a short synopsis of the book and your qualifications as a writer.  You have to grab them from the beginning and hook them on the concept of the book; make them want to read more.  I can tell you that my query has gotten a whole lot shorter for this second manuscript.  I'm now a veteran query writer so to speak.  It's a difficult process and a waiting game because you hope you connect with the agent through a couple of paragraphs and it could take a while for the agent to get back to you about their interest or non-interest.  Some agents (few and far between) get back to you quickly and are courteous.  Other agents can take as long as ten to fourteen weeks before answering a query.  I actually did have one literary agent who responded almost a year after I sent the query. 
It can be frustrating querying literary agents.  Most will send a form reject with an opening paragraph with "Dear Author" which to me is impersonal and somewhat hypocritical in that most agents want you to have researched them through and through before you query them; God forbid you ever send a query email that begins with "Dear Agent".  Major no-no.  Next, you get either a request for a partial of the manuscript or a request for the full manuscript which you hopefully get to send via email.  There are agents that still require you to print the whole manuscript and mail it to them which can be costly.  In relation to rejections, an author can be told many things such as, It's not right for my list; I'm not the right agent for this work; We're not taking on new clients; This work is too similar to another one I represent; or I didn't connect with the book concept.  I have been through this so many times that I now think if an agent does sign me I probably will not have the excitement I might have had if I had found an agent who offered representation at an earlier time in my writing career.  Presently, I am to the point of feeling "Let's Get On With The Show!"
I do want a literary agent that looks out for my career as a writer, takes care of me editorially, gives me extensive feedback on what works in a manuscript and what doesn't, and helps continually guide me through the publishing process.  I don't expect this process to "be a walk in the park". I do expect a first class, dedicated agent who is ready to hit the ground running cause you know what?  I've been ready for a long time and have several manuscripts in the pipeline.  Here's to hoping a literary agent sends me good news soon, and that it's the right agent for me.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Smoltz's Bio, The Falcons, And My 2nd Manuscript

Dear Literary Loves,
Howdy!  This is Grace coming to you from my rockin' office at 12:08 p.m. where I am jammin' out to the to the original INXS.  Hey, I'm reading John Smoltz's bio that hit the national bestseller list and this book is so hilarious and seriously good.  I love it when he calls the local radio station and puts the sports newscaster on the spot about not really being in the Braves' dugout even though the guy is going on and on like he's a player on the team!  I bought this book for my dad, who is like, a MASSIVE Braves fan, for Father's Day this year.  And by the way, GO BRAVES!  LET'S TIE THE FRANCHISE RECORD for most consecutive wins!
Now about the Falcons preseason game against the Bengals.  Okay, I admit, I was having a panic attack with us not having John Abraham as a pass rusher.  We've got to shore up the defensive line which I am most sure will happen when we get our starters playing for a whole game.  Totally NOT worried about the offense as we looked sharp when our first string was playing.  And Hey!  What about the new cornerback Truffant...........he rocks!  I haven't been this excited to see a player since Julio Jones was recruited.  Now, we take on the SuperBowl champs in this week's preseason game so let's get some serious butt kickin' going on and rack up some major kudos and points against them!
Next, I finished my second manuscript.  It's women's fiction and has the most outrageous title which I can't state presently.  Let's hope one of my favorite literary agents picks this one up because I am about to pull my hair out to be published.  I'm serious.  I am going to make some literary agent and me a heck of a lot of money; they just need to recognize it, you know what I mean?  You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink.  Don't worry Lit Loves, I'll keep you posted because hey, I really have to have a major publishing debut book party!  Stay Chill and Rock On.....

Thursday, August 1, 2013

On One Of My Favorite Writers Losing Her Edge

Dear Literary Loves,
Well, lots happening on the writing front.  One agent has the full manuscript and now, two editors have asked to review the full manuscript as well.  Here's the thing:  So I'm out having lunch with my husband, The Brewster, yesterday and we are chatting about everything and my mother.  I tell him I am soooooooooo disappointed with one of my formerly favorite authors.  And he's like, "What happened to her?  And by the way, did you hear what happened at one of my former tech companies?"  "Well, no", I say, "But first, I really liked this author when she was living among the cheap seats, barely scraping by, and selling her Gucci handbags on eBay to pay her rent.  THEN, I picked up her next book which had come out in paperback thinking oh, this is going to be a scream".
No it wasn't a scream; in fact, I was mortified because now that she's got a couple of books under her belt, she's becoming Ms. Self-Entitled.  "Really", says the Brewster.  "How?" he questions "Oh, for crying out loud, she's lamenting about her Cadillac Escalade, buying a house in a ritzy suburb, and for heaven's sake, she's hiring people to come pick up her dog's poop in the yard!"  "Damn", says the Brewster, "that's just asinine arrogance".  So I hand over the book to him so he knows which author I am speaking of and he randomly starts reading from the book.  "Well", he says, "she's definitely no-nonsense like you, but really, her pretentiousness gets on my nerves so I see why you think she is losing her edge." "Losing her edge?!  She's not only losing her edge; she's lost the whole damn knife sharpener!" I return.  "Plus", I say, "she's losing her feel for being of the people, by the people, and for the people for crying out loud!"  "Well,"says the Brewster, "she's definitely becoming snarky.  So if she can make loads of sales on books with this kind of stuff, you should have no worries".  I'll believe that when I have an agent and a book deal I think
So then the Brewster is telling me about how the tech company where we met has just laid off another 120 employees.   "That's not shocking", I begin, "because they are headed in the WRONG direction technically and they needed to diversify their product base twelve years ago when you left. Have they done that still? No; therefore, they are seeing their market share circling the drain."  "I couldn't agree more", says the Brewster.  "I tried to help them be open-minded about the need for immense data that people would want via their phones and laptops, but who am I?  Just an electrical engineer with a PH.D who knows the market so really, what the hell do I know?" he says laughing.  "Do you think they will find their way back?" I query.  "Only if they get the right people in the right positions; you can't build quality product without experienced engineers and you ain't getting this experienced engineer without forking over some serious moolah, you know what I mean?" says the Brewster.  I hold up my sweet tea and we toast to being a rebel, an independent, and in my case, deuces are wild. 
So anyway literary loves, I am keeping myself above the hoopla, understand?  I am keeping myself among the people because if you ever get to the point where you think you are so good that you no longer need to be among the common folk, you are probably going to lose your edge in publishing or that's my opinion.  The Brewster asks me about "the author" in Atlanta.  Now we know who "the author" is because that's how we refer to her.  "Well, here's the thing", I lament, "she's a year and a half late on her next book for crying out loud!"  "And how does her editor feel about this?" asks the Brewster.  "I don't know how her editor feels, but I am royally pissed and you know why?  Because in the year and a half that she has been late on her next book, I have written two books and am still awaiting a publisher!"  "Life is so not fair", says the Brewster.  "You are telling me baby because I am on writing like butter on bread; like my Mustang on I-85 north/south, understand?!" I lament.  "No worries", says the Brewster, "you'll smoke their asses once someone does discover you".  "Ahhh, Brewster", I say, "you really know how to make a girl's day". 
That's it from the literary trenches for today lovies!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Discuss: Why An Agent Passes On A Book/Why This Writer Passes On A Book

Dear Literary Loves,
Well, I did my civic duty yesterday and reported for jury duty.  The panel I was assigned to waited and waited and waited.  Finally, a clerk of court arrives to tell us the defendant's case we were being assigned to has accepted a plea and we are free to go for the day; however, we must all call in each night this week to see if we are needed on another jury for the next day's wild events at the courthouse.  This explains why I'm back so early to my blog; I was sure I would get placed on a case that at least went the course of a week.  So while waiting as a potential juror I began reading a literary agent's blog about why she passes on a manuscript.  This proved interesting as I compared it to why I pass on a book or become highly disappointed in a book that I bought, but did not live up to its premise.  Here is a list of the literary agent's reasons for passing on a potential manuscript:

Agent Passes On A Manuscript Because:
1)  The writing was not all that great and the premise did not electrify her.  (This proved interesting to me in that I think what great writing is depends on who you ask; it is quite subjective).
2)  The agent likes the manuscript, but didn't fall in love with it or could not represent it to a publishing house with a passion.  (Another interesting reason since I would think it would be how passionate the author is about the work and not necessarily his/her agent.  I have met some agents who honestly, I think if Brad Pitt walked into their office, plopped himself down in front of their desk, and offered to write his memoir, would simply assign him a ghost writer and only get worked up because of the dollar signs he/she sees along with the concept, major celebrity).
3)  According to one agent 90% of stories start in the wrong place.  In other words, they take too long to get to the action or meat of the story.  (I don't quite know about this because some of the authors the agent champions bored me so badly in the first five pages there is no way I could take the next five pages much less the whole book).
4)  The book does not fit the genre that was pitched to the agent.  (Hmmm, I've seen works that could be classified in two genres and I guess it would be quite regrettable if you pitched a book as thriller and it was romantic fantasy.  Wait, does this really happen? Evidently).  I would like to say though that I have never been in any English class in which we actually classified books according to genre; however, now that I think about it, that would be an entertaining class to teach now that I've seen what it is like to be a new writer thrown to the wolves of the traditional publishing world.

Why This Writer Passes On A Book Or Is Disappointed In A Book:
1)  Vulgarity.  Honestly folks, I have not been spending the usual amounts of discretionary spending money on books lately.  One reason is I absolutely am not able to get past the prolific use of vulgarity.  It just brings me down and it might be totally the nature of the character or writer, but alas, this is not something I am ever going to recommend.  Ever. End of story.
2)  I am not able to relate to what you are writing about or your main character.  If I can't find some common ground with the main character or the writer is a highly conservative arrogant person, I am not going to bite.  Ever.  And no, getting me mad and upset will not make me buy your book.  Okay?
3)  The main character is too snarky.  Truly, this just happened to me over the weekend.  I bought a book by an author I had admired.  This was like her seventh book to be published.  She has become a successful author, but my how the voice in her books has changed.  I liked her better when she had lost her job, been evicted from her apartment, and her car just died on the expressway. Now, she is ranting and raving and talking about driving this big car or that SUV.  I was like, really dear?  Who died and appointed you Queen?!
4)  I just will not buy thriller or horror books.  I know, I know; there are some really good thriller writers.  Karin Slaughter is a good example and she lives here in Atlanta, but honestly, I did read one of her books and it scared the heebee jeebees out of me and I was reading it in the middle of the day and not while home alone on a dark rainy night.  To each their own though.
5)  The author or main character makes fun of southerners.  Now if you really want to see me flying around on a broom with my hair on fire, just try insulting southerners or slighting them in any fashion.  I will ban you from my library and any other libraries upon which I have influence.  Are We Clear?!
6)  The author's agent was rude to me as a new writer.  This is serious folks.  No lie.  Over the weekend I picked up a memoir that normally I would be interested in, but I knew who the author's literary agent is.  And she had been quite dismissive and unprofessional to me so I didn't buy the book.  Impression matters people; take note!
7)  The author has been a sour puss to me as a new writer.  Honest to goodness, swear on my cat Romeo's life, this happened recently as well.  I had a small publishing company that was ready to publish my memoir.  I was so thrilled that you would have thought I had won the 600 million Powerball lottery.  While I was filling out the publisher's author information form I noticed they wanted me to attempt to get some endorsements for the book by other authors in or near my genre.  No problem!  I looked up my top three authors, sent them a polite query, and it must have been a full moon the previous night.  My absolute, very favorite author sent back a snarky email saying she didn't do endorsements for books by small publishers!  And then she had the audacity to suggest that parts of my memoir could not possibly be true!  I gasped loudly and wondered who took a whizz in her cornflakes this morning?!  I was so utterly repulsed that I promptly took every book I had that she had written and donated them to a used bookstore.  Seriously! The other two authors did not even bother to respond to my query.  When did it become okay to be such an ass to one of your fellow sisters in writing my dear?  I never buy any of her books and if I see one displayed, I promptly put another writer's work in front of her book.  Touche, my dear, Touche.

Until Next Time Literary Loves!  Carry On!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Why Barnes and Noble Needs An Overhaul/Makeover

Dear Literary Loves,
Well loves, if you are not in the publishing trenches on a day to day basis like I am, you may not have heard that storm clouds are on the horizon for retailer Barnes & Noble.  The CEO has resigned and numerous vice presidents, editors, etc. are leaving it appears.  Does this shock me?  No.  I was shocked when Borders died a slow death and all the stores in my area disappeared.  That was a great bookstore and they always had someone to help you no matter the time of day.  I was shocked when all the Blockbuster stores also died a slow death and all the stores in my area disappeared five years ago.  Barnes & Noble needs to upgrade, reboot, and bring in new blood.  Here's why I have been dissatisfied with my nearest and dearest local bookstore in recent days:

1)  This is a bookstore not a university library folks.  Honestly, the last time I attempted to go buy books at my local Barnes & Noble, I couldn't believe the number of students (elementary to college age) that were congregating there.  And they are not quiet about it either.  I wanted to peruse several books before I purchased them, but, alas, I could not find an available chair in which to seat myself.  Why?  Because we have teenagers and college students setting up camp there on a daily basis in order to study or have a group study.  No one that I saw was buying books.  They were just there with their backpacks, smart phones, ipods, etc. just doing their thing.  I'm thinking to myself, what the hell happened to the school library or the university library folks?!  As far as I know, they still exist and that's where I did my studying.  You can't walk around with coffee, but hey, you can't have everything!  Where are paying customers supposed to go?  To the kiddie department? I don't think so.

2)  Barnes and Noble should have each store designed such that you absolutely cannot utilize a cell phone while in the store.  I'm serious!  It's absolutely mind-boggling how many people just casually answer their phone in a book store and carry on with their nearest and dearest while the rest of us are trying to shop.  Please!  Let it go to voice mail!  Talk about not being able to concentrate; one guy in the store was conducting a job interview on his smart phone while seated in the magazine section of a Barnes and Noble store.  Really?!  Have we lost our minds?! 

3)  Okay, I am not jumping up and down about the e-book revolution either and it is eating in to profits at Barnes and Noble, of this I am sure.  I was trained as an English teacher so I'm old school in the fact that I like and prefer the feel of a book in my hand.  I like turning the actual pages, reading the synopsis on the back of a book, feeling better about the economy when I see how much the Canadians are having to pay for the same book, and yes, I like the paper smell of a freshly printed book.  I have to say that I don't own a tablet or Nook.  Honestly, reading on one of those gives me a major tension headache.  And take note Barnes and Noble marketing departments, I don't want to be accosted by a sales person trying to sell me a Nook each time I walk in the store for crying out loud!

4)  I'm not sure that Barnes and Noble really needs a massive section of the store devoted to compact discs either.  I'm probably the only one left of my generation that still utilizes those and likes them.  I think the wave of the future is going to be downloading music onto devices folks so that portion of each store needs to be minimized.  And guess what that means?!  More space!  So here's what you do with the additional space:  Build a speaking platform with a stage and theater seating.  Bear with me now, I can tell you are rolling your eyes at this point.  Have authors attend meet and greets at your local Barnes & Noble.  Allow authors to discuss their books, talk about the craft of writing, and even conduct a few seminars on what it's like to be an author and how to go about it!  Lord knows I could have used one of those seminars before I started attempting to get published, but it never totally bothers me if I have to learn the hard way too.  Just as long as I get there eventually.

5)  I understand the need for journals and diary books.  Trust me, you could never have made it through one of my literature courses without having about ten of those wonderful objects, but hey, what about address books?  I swear I spent a half hour trying to locate an address book at Barnes and Noble only to find one that was the size of a pack of cigarettes with barely any room for writing a name much less address, phone, email, fax, Web site, etc. etc.  Come on now!  Spruce this section of the store up a bit more!  And hey, if you want people to like writing, why not have available the feathered pens of yesterday?!  Seriously, if you want people to adore the craft, give them intriguing gizmos!  Harry Potter had a wand; I vote for long, feather pens!  And where in heaven's name are the stickers?!  I realize I am no longer five years of age, but hey!  Some of us like to properly mail a letter the old fashioned way and have it look presentable when it arrives! 

 7)  Finally, could we at least have enough staff in each Barnes and Noble store to accomodate those of us that are not there to socialize, but to actually find a book or research a medical problem?  I realize overhead is expensive, but it is worth it so people do not walk around appearing like space cadets.  Mind you, I have helped a few lost souls roaming Barnes and Noble stores.  And is it too much to ask for Barnes and Noble employees to know how to renew my Barnes and Noble membership card?  Honestly, last month I went to my local store, walked up to the counter, presented my membership card along with the renewal fee, and the clerk said she had no idea how to complete that transaction!  Excuse me?  She then proceeded to tell me that she only knew how to open new membership accounts and had not been trained how to renew a customer's membership card.  I was flabbergasted, shocked, ticked off, and finally, I just gave up and called the corporate headquarters.  The gentleman I spoke with there was absolutely speechless.  He apologized profusely and said he had never heard of such.  Fortunately, after my verbal ranting and raving, my membership card was renewed and I received fifty dollars in store coupons in the mail the very next week.  That's customer service folks, so take NOTES!

Until next time book lovers and PLEASE NOTE THAT I HAVE BEEN ASSIGNED JURY DUTY THE WEEK OF JULY 22ND AND I WILL BE OFFLINE WHILE DOING MY CIVIC DUTY NEXT WEEK!  Not to fear though, I'll be back in a jiffy!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Why This Generation Xer Is NOT Buying Books

Dear Literary Loves,
Well, my brother always says I write my best when I write unfiltered so here goes.  I just want acquisition editors, publicists, literary agents, and sales departments to know why your profits are down and tomorrow is not looking good either.  Here's the thing:  You are not publishing quality material.  This Generation Xer buys the most books from the memoir genre and I haven't bought half of the number I would normally purchase.  I don't purchase celebrity memoirs because those folks make too much money anyway.  I read recently (because it's in my latest book proposal) that female Generation Xers buy the most books of the entire reading population.  And obviously we are not happy with the selection on the shelves at Barnes & Noble.  Profits are down, sales figures are down from where they were this time last year, and God save Barnes & Noble from bankruptcy or having to sell the whole kit n'kaboodle because really folks, it's not their fault.  And here is why I am not buying any books currently on the market in the memoir genre:

1)  I'm tired of dating memoirs; if I want a really good romance I will go find the Harlequin section. Otherwise, I could care less about the Generation Y's dating exploits.  I'm over the thirty days of dating and the writing about your adventures of online dating.  This is trendy stuff folks. 

2)  If I see another weight loss memoir I may drive myself straight to Burger King and order an extra large combo meal.  Didn't you know that deprivation is the root of all evil?  Well, I am here to tell you that every now and again, you should reward yourself.  Food is not the enemy.  It's a matter of self-control; calories in versus calories out or at least that's what I learned in high school health class.

3)  I am so not interested in kitchen meltdowns or foodie memoirs.  I picked up one to peruse at Barnes & Noble hoping for the best and could not get through the first five pages.  Didn't your literary agent tell you that it's all about the first ten pages?  You've got to grab me from the beginning! And frankly, I think some of you should just order your Thanksgiving meals from The Honey Baked Ham store for crying out loud.  Stop stressing about it.  The holidays will be much happier, trust me on this.

4)  I actually get ticked off when I see a memoir about someone from Boston or New York that moves from the big city to the country only to discover:  it's not a bed of roses!  You can't find a Bloomingdale's?!  You've got to get your hands dirty?!  You can't wear your five inch heels without sinking in the mud...........well, damn, go cry a river in someone else's yard not mine.  I grew up on a farm.  Some of you could use a decade on a farm just to get over your pretentious selves.  People might like you more too.  Bloom Where You Are Planted!

5)  Publishing houses who display memoirs from 2006 as the best memoir yet.  Could you join us in 2013 folks?  We're waiting, but we are not patient so get with the program or get out of the business. Are you really so certain that you're publishing what we Generation Xers care about?  Let's be real now?!

6)  Publishing houses with rude editorial departments.  I'm serious.  As a new author I have had it up to my almost detached retinas with no responses to emails; it's just rude people.  And if you think I am going to help your bottom line when you've been treating new writers/debut authors like dirt, think twice.  I review memoirs, I have writer friends, book clubs are right up my alley, and hell, I'm a former English teacher!  I've seen enough rude, juvenile behavior to last me nine lifetimes!  And courtesy doesn't cost a dime does it?!  Imagine that!

What Do I Rcommend For This Crisis:  GO DO YOUR HOMEWORK!  Find a new author like myself with a darn good yarn and an eccentric family, look for stories that are quality not vulgarity, find manuscripts that grab you from the first ten pages, and for heaven's sake, if you work in publishing, be a publishing mentor, not a jerk. 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Oh Literary Agent, Oh Literary Agent, Where Art Thou?

So my question is:  Is there a perfect literary agent for every author?  This has become a vexing question for me recently.  I've spoken with a lot of writers and authors recently.  Some of the writers who have definitely queried more literary agents than me are throwing in the towel and going straight to self-publishing.  I thought about that, but my memoir experiences are just too pressing for our current times for me to just take the easy way out and hire a  vanity publisher.  Plus, I've gotten good feedback from some really high profile editors so I know I have something that hooks people.  If you actually met my family in person you would definitely be enthralled.  One author who has published six books contacted me recently.  He has been through three agents in his career.  "Did you have a meaningful relationship with any of the agents?", I asked.  "No", he said, "it's all basically about the bottom line for an agent".  Joy.  There's inspiration for a potential debut author. 
A writer just today informed our writing community that she had queried an agent over eleven months ago.  The agent asked for the full manuscript.  The writer sent it promptly.  After four months passed the writer sent the agent an email regarding an update..........the agent said she had had health problems and was still reading.  So the writer waited another four months and asked for an update once again.  No response.  Then right out of the blue, eleven months after the writer sent the full manuscript, the agent sent a one paragraph rejection.  Obviously, she was furious.  I was speechless. 
This morning I was browsing blogs where literary agents had commented on the memoir genre.  I   found one agent who is obsessed with memoir, so much so that she reads most of them when they are first published.  She will accept memoir queries, but I later learned that she will not take on a memoir if other literary agents have seen it.  Wait?  What?  I'm expecting the whole world to see the memoir sooner or later so I decided against querying this agent.  For heaven's sakes, when did this whole querying process become a spy mission for crying out loud?  I never approached the process as a Navy Seal Team Six mission.
Next, I located a blog post about an agent lamenting the fact that she could not find fresh, slice of life memoirs.  Okay. She says she does not care what the memoir subject matter is, the voice and humor must draw her in or she rejects the manuscript.  "Voice" in writing is a very subjective thing.  Let me tell you that what draws this literary agent's eye and what draws my eye in terms of memoir writing are polar opposites.  I compared her top five memoir list to mine and we do not have any shared likes.  Scratch that agent off the query list as well.  This literary agent exploration has been stressful and exhausting.  My husband is ready to be my agent.  He says he can take the book and run with it seeing as how I have already made connections with potential editors.  There is an agent out there that comes from my neck of the woods, recognizes the significance of my memoir experience, and how I uniquely write about that experience right??!  Well, where are you?  Please be in touch soon dear agent because I'm not getting any younger.  Also, I have jury duty coming up soon so please, please be in touch so I'm not stewing over the lack of quality literary agents while I am waiting to discover if I am being selected as a potential jury member.  Literary agent, literary agent, where art thou?!!! 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Authors And Our Agent Nightmares...Hilarious!

Dear Literary Loves,
Honest to goodness we authors have our share of literary agent nightmares.  People email me or message me about them all the time.  I've decided, some it is so hilarious, heartbreaking, and completely foolish I really have to write a book about the whole experience.  For instance, this one writer was telling me about a writing conference she went to this spring.  She signed up, paid her fees, and had scheduled to pitch to two agents.  I had already had an experience with one of those agents so I knew she was up against a wall.  Seriously.  She went for the pitch session with the first one who is male.  She was nervous which is to be expected.  He told her to come back in one to two years when she had a polished manuscript because she had only been writing on it for ten months.  She only lacked working out the ending on the manuscript; otherwise, it was completed and edited to the best of her ability.  I hear from her:  "What the hell?!  I Don't Have One To Two Years!" I was shaking my head.  Damn, he can be abrasive.  Then, the agent asked her for her word count.  Well, if he had paid attention to her in the pitch, she said she hadn't finished the ending to the manuscript.  She reminded him of this.  No matter, he wanted a ball park figure on how many words her memoir manuscript would have.  She politely guessed 110,000.  He went loco.  "What?!  Cut it to 80,000 or just self-publish because it won't sell at that word count if you are a debut author."  She was devastated.  Here's the thing:  I told her, Mr. Smarty Pants doesn't have a clue.  You know why?  Because many a debut author memoir has sold with a word count over 120,000.  I know, I have them on my bookshelf.  She was somewhat consoled and agreed to keep on querying as I encouraged her to do. 
Next, we have the writer on one of the literary agent query sites who just cracks me up each time she receives a rejection from an agent.  She will post the agent's rejection for all to see on the site and then in all caps put "ONWARD!!"  Each time I read a rejection post for her I think of a Civil War general who keeps rallying onward even though he's lost half his men, there is no food for the troops, and some are fighting without equipment.  Damn.  You have to admire her tenacity.  I have to take several days to myself when I receive a rejection.  I have to step away from it because I tend to take it too personally.  And everyone knows what happens when someone slams me personally. 
Don't even get me started about the literary agent who willingly gives himself the name of asinine agent or something to that extreme.  I advise writers in relation to him:  Don't waste your time.  He's has some sort of twisted agenda of that I am sure.  Beautiful people, just say no to these types. I'm serious, cause life's too short.
And finally, there's the author who published a memoir just for venting and vindictive purposes.  She even admitted that she had done this.  I was like, "And your agent agreed to shop it and sell it?" She told me, "Oh yeah, well, we're friends.  That's how I got published in the first place.  She and I know each other."   And the book had a terrible showing.  So the agent wasn't really basing her decision on the writing, but on the relationship she had with the author.  There's professionalism on display for you.  Damn.  When I queried this gal's agent or any agent in this literary agency, here's the response I got each time:  "We are not the agency for you.  Look elsewhere."  Again, unprofessionalism reeks to high heaven people.  And reputations are made and broken on how you present yourself.  Writers ask me all the time about who they should query with a certain manuscript.  Guess what?  That agency has a major, red HURRICANE flag in my book.  Just saying.
And FINALLY, talk about nightmares, I have editors from Random House and Skyhorse Publishing requesting the manuscript and I DON'T HAVE AN AGENT YET!  How did I manage this you ask? I am a very likeable person, make friends easily, and am highly convincing.  It doesn't hurt that I have one hell of a tale and am good at pitching it to anyone whether that is the President or a homeless man sitting by the subway entrance. 

Friday, June 28, 2013

Revelations From Agent and Editor Wish Lists

Dear Literary Loves,
Oh my. I just found an internet site that posted all the tweets from some circulating theme of Agents and Editors Wish Lists.  Was it ever revealing!  I felt like I was a fly on the wall listening in on the George Zimmermann trial in Florida.  Talk about truly discovering what literary agents are REALLY
looking for in the slush pile!  I was shocked because well, I had queried some of these literary agents and it was quite obvious to me that memoir IS NOT a genre where their true interests and priorities lie.  WHO KNEW?!  Anyway, my point is that there are many an acquiring literary agent who list on an agency site that they acquire memoir, but they wouldn't have the slightest bit of interest if a really good one came across the desk because WHAT they are really truly focusing on acquiring is young adult this and young adult that.  Tsk. Tsk.  Yawn.  Sorry, young adult is definitely not this southern writer's area.  Also, the vampire, werewolves, shewolves, etc. were SO OVER five years ago.  So here I was reading all these tweets and thinking why in the hell did I ever query him/her when it is so obvious we are not even on the same literary wavelength?!  Let's be real.  We may not even be residing on the same planet in some cases.  Lord, I was shocked.  By the way, there is an agent or editor that wants the next Downtown Abbey book, if that's your thing.  I fall asleep during the opening montage for Downtown Abbey if that tells you anything about my tastes. 
And let me say there is an agent that is looking to acquire memoir, but she wants one without the following:  illness, addiction, or families.  SAY WHAT?!!!!  Oh my goodness peeps!  Where would we be without those universal qualities throughout oh, I don't know, 80 percent of all the memoir titles?!  OH, IT'S JUST THE BEE'S KNEES HOW WHEN I READ THIS I JUST ABOUT PASSED OUT FROM HYPERVENTILATION!  By the way, that's probably why this particular literary agent rudely did not get back to me when I queried her with my memoir!  Damn!  Maybe he/she wanted a memoir that was going to sit on the shelf and collect dust and be sent back to the publisher as returns, but I'm in it for the real deal sweethearts.  I'm in it because I have a strong voice, a twistedly good yarn, and one hell of a fabulous author Web site that debuts this weekend!  Ya'll Be Sweet Now While I Take Myself Out To Lunch!  CHEERS!!

Sunday, June 16, 2013


Dear Literary Loves,
I know ya'll are reading this blog cause I can see how many views this blog has created and I know from where you are viewing this blog.  First, let me give a shout to Anonymous who sent me a reply about my post on literary agents:  thank you man, anytime; I ain't afraid to tell it like it is.  That's how this southern girl rolls.  Now, let me ask the editors and agents out there a question cause I'm getting worried about you.  Would you really recognize the next Kathryn Stockett or the next J.K. Rowling if she knocked at your door?  I'm serious.  Evidently, most would not judging from how many doors both ladies had to knock on and have shut in their faces before someone finally turned on the light switch and said, "Hell, yes.  You do have the next big thing, don't you?" 
Okay, so where's this beef coming from on my part you ask? Well, I had two literary agents turn my book down because they thought I should take out the life lessons:  said it was nothing new to them.  They already knew all that:  well, excuse me, let me get out of the way for your big-headed selves ladies.  I'm not writing for you darling, I'm writing for the general reading public.  Understand?  Cause here it comes now, wait for it..........WHO DO YOU THINK KNOWS MORE ABOUT WHAT THE GENERAL READING PUBLIC WANTS TO BUY?  A southern gal from the middle class who went to public schools and put herself through a state public college; she also taught public school and especially connected to inner city school students!  OR DO YOU THINK IT IS TWO GALS WHO GREW UP RICH AS AUGUSTA NATIONAL GRASS, WENT TO PRIVATE BOARDING SCHOOLS AND A PRIVATE COLLEGE, AND OH, HAVE AN OFFICE ON FIFTH AVENUE?!  Hey, I'm not knocking your life story cause I major in writing about real life recollections, okay?  I'm just making a point that there is a real reason why a book like Everything I Needed To Know I Learned In Kindergarten sold millions.  Hint:  it spoke to the vast majority of the general reading public.  Just sayin' folks.  Better look closely at who is knocking at your door with a query and a damn good book.