Hey again, and a new editing venture

Hello everyone! Look at me, I’m back!

I can’t promise how much I’ll be reviewing, although I’d like to talk informally about some of the older stuff I’ve been reading.

My son is now in 1st grade (!), so he’s off in school all day, and in a couple of week the girls will be going off to preschool 2-3 times/week. I left active agenting earlier this year because I felt that my family wasn’t getting enough of my time while the kids are still little (and at home, and thus likely either watching TV or getting into trouble while I worked). However, now that everyone is going to be in school at least part of the time, I am going to be jumping back in to a book industry position that can help writers (and where I can strictly control the incoming work flow). In short, I will be launching an editing service.

editing services

I will be editing queries and manuscripts, both partial and full, with an eye towards what an agent or editor sees when they look at your project. To clarify: using these services will have NO BEARING on getting you read, requested, or signed with anyone at Fuse Literary. However, they are designed to put writers in a better position to put their work in front of any agent or editor.

So! If you or a friend is working on a book or is thinking about querying, please consider using me to help you get your project as polished as possible before attempting publication. If you sign up for query editing by the end of September, you will be entered to win a free critique of your entire manuscript.

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Claude and Camille by Stephanie Cowell – Giveaway

Just under a year ago, I read a beautiful historical novel about the love between Claude Monet and his muse and first wife, Camille. Not only did it tell a beautiful love story and give insight into the life of Claude Monet and his rise to fame, but it also gave me a context I had previously lacked for the Impressionist movement.

My review

Stephanie also wrote a very interesting guest post last year about how to piece together an historical novel.

Stephanie’s guest post

If you are someone who likes to wait for things to come to paperback before buying, now’s your chance!

Powells* | Indiebound* | Amazon

I have five copies to giveaway to readers with US mailing addresses, mailed by the publisher. Enter by the end of the day on Friday, April 1.

*These are affiliate links
This giveaway is sponsored by the publisher.

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Sourcebooks Celebrates Jane Austen’s Birthday!

Sourcebooks, a favorite publisher of mine, is celebrating Jane Austen’s 235th birthday in a big way: free books!

Customers with US billing addresses can download 16 free ebooks from a variety of ebook stores extended through Friday due to problems earlier today. Here’s what they have on offer:

Jane Austen Illustrated Editions:

Pride and Prejudice
Mansfield Park
Sense and Sensibility
Persuasion
Emma
Northanger Abby

Jane Austen sequels

Eliza’s Daughter
The Darcys and the Bingleys
Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife
What Would Jane Austen Do?
Lydia Bennet’s Story
The Pemberley Chronicles

The Other Mr. Darcy
Mr. Darcy’s Diary
Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One
Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy

Sourcebooks also created a handy page to link you to all of the ebook stores participating in the promotion. I downloaded all of the illustrated editions and some of the sequels for the Nook app on my phone/the Nook I’m getting for Christmas. What will you grab?

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David Ellis Giveaway

No, sadly I’m not actually giving away David Ellis.

He’s cute though, right? Not to mention smart and funny, I absolutely love the guest post he sent me for today!

I am, however, giving away his most recent two books, which are actually the first two books in a new series. “The Hidden Man” is going to be released in paperback in January, and “Breach of Trust” will be released for the first time in hardcover February 3, 2011.

One lucky reader, though, can win copies of BOTH books right now, thanks to the good people at Putnam Books! If you want to be one of the first to read Ellis’ new book, this is your chance. Simply fill out the form below by 11:59 pm Central on Wednesday, October 27th. Putnam Books will be taking care of the shipping, so US and Canada only, please.

Market Making – Guest Post by Richard C. Morais, author of “The Hundred-Foot Journey”

Richard C. Morais is the author of “The Hundred-Foot Journey,” which I reviewed yesterday and a reporter for Forbes magazine for 25 years. Please see the end of this post for a giveaway.

I learned the value of food as cultural commentary when I was Forbes’ European Bureau Chief, stationed in London. That job routinely parachuted me into remote cities in China, rural villages in Hungary, jungle outposts in Madagascar. The difficulty was, staggering jet-lagged off the plane, I had to quickly get up to speed to write a credible and accurate story on the country’s business or economic scene – even though I had never before set foot in the place. In other words, I had to learn how to convincingly and instantly fake it.

It was under this pressure to produce credible copy in far-flung corners of the globe that I developed my personal reporting technique: I always headed, first thing, to the local food markets and had a meal. When needing to quickly understand where a country is on the global scale of economic development, there is nothing like seeing and smelling and tasting the foodstuffs found at local markets, where the stalls are lorded over by colorful spice merchants, butchers, and fishmongers, and the very air of the market is filled with the farmers’ lively chatter and vicious gossip. It was like magic. You couldn’t help but absorb the country’s state-of-existence – right through your pores.

In the Ugandan capital of Kampala, for example, I went to Rufula, the city’s livestock market. Mesmerized, I followed brown-hide longhorns into the abattoir, where the walls were splattered with blood and the steers’ hacked-off hooves were stacked and sold as a culinary delicacy. An animal was felled before me, hoisted up on hooks and hauled along on chains. When the butcher’s ax fell into the steer’s chest cavity, blood splattered across my shirt. The sickly sweet smell of death hung in the air an stayed in my nostrils for the rest of the day.

From there I went to Nakasero, the vegetable market, where the teenage “coffee boys” guided the newly-arrived farmers, for a fee, to the merchants offering the highest prices for arabica and robusta beans. At the basket-filled spice market, a hallucinatory mix of bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, and vanilla pods greeted me. Meanwhile, over in the 20 square blocks that made up the Owino Market, a kind of biblical-era department store, I watched fascinated as the locals got their hair cut and dyed in the open air. Under the flame trees, women sipping milky tea shelled beans and sold Nile Perch broth or a peanut sauce to go with a starchy-green banana mush called matoke.

It was through these markets that this hardscrabble African nation entered my soul, and the descriptions in the subsequent article made Forbes’ readers in New York or Seattle viscerally understand Uganda’s economic landscape, far more effectively than the dry recitation of per-capita GDP statistics every could.

My senses were aflame. That same trip, near the headwaters of the Nile River as it flowed from Lake Victoria, I had a lunchtime red-curry with the prominent Madhvani family. This was an entirely different sort of an experience. Here we dined on white tablecloths on the family’s homestead’s porch, overlooking their 25,000-acre sugar estate. Pointy-eared Scotties scampered through the garden; strutting peacocks shrieked and fanned their tales. In the far distance, the hills of Africa were airbrushed with a purple hue. The servants served us tea.

It is this tactile taste for ripe-smelling markets and savory meals that mysteriously came to my aid when I turned to fiction. Consciously or not, it helped my protagonist, Hassan Haji, find his way through the culturally diverse worlds of Bombay, London, Lumière and Paris.

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