Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the month “December, 2008”

Over Eggnog – Networking for Blurbs

For the past few weeks, I have been trying to find famous people willing to give me a one-liner for the back cover of Oilspill dotcom. It is called a blurb and is immensely important as the browser in the bookstore, attracted by the cover, will then turn the book over for a quick description of the story and to see who likes it. This is all about credibility, but challenging when you’ve only been in the country a few years, without many contacts.

I have emailed a number of requests to local radio hosts and journalists. Richard Wolinsky, from KPFA’s Cover-to-Cover, has generously offered to read a galley proof. I have sent a request to Christopher Buckley (Thank You For Smoking, No Way To Treat A First Lady, Florence of Arabia, Boomsday and Little Green Men).

An aside — I fantasize being interviewed on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show, my favorite TV show, though I always thought he never interviewed fiction authors. Ironically, I am wrong, and this is how I discovered the immensely talented and hilarious Buckley.

I also emailed Erin Brockovich, who famously stood up to a multinational corporation in court. I am excited about hearing anything from her. Who knows?

Do you have anyone who springs to mind that I could approach such as an author, a media person, a political advocate? If so, please ask them if I can drop them an email. Keep me in mind when you schmooze over eggnog at your holiday parties.

Thanks for your help,

Good Writing,


The Elevator Pitch

I am sitting in SFO, waiting for a flight out to Baltimore. I will attend a conference for work (my other life), and will share, at every opportunity, my forthcoming novel, Oilspill dotcom. I realize that they will ask what it’s about, and I will only have a minute or so to explain.

This is called The Elevator Pitch, where you only have the time it takes for an elevator to travel a few floors, to tell your story. I’ve been working on mine for a while, but it still doesn’t come out of my mouth fluently.

Oilspill dotcom is a political courtroom confrontation wherein a multinational corporation tries to silence two young idealists, who level the playing field using a new emerging tool: the Internet.

It is a fictional drama that closely parallels the McDonald’s libel case, which captivated England through the 1990’s.

It is a work in process and I will surely change it as I practice (I made about four changes just now!). I would appreciate any feedback or improvements that you might have and will share with you its evolution.

I will be home from the conference on Friday – in time for another blog!

Good Writing,


"Own It, Then Let It Go."

It is late Friday night. I am driving home on the freeways and bridges that take me around San Francisco and over to the East Bay. I am tired. Physically it has been a long day. But more than this, I am tired mentally. This morning, for the first time in months, I sat down to write, to advance my book, be a writer … and I gave up.

Work is tough, plummeted by the economic downturn, but this is not the reason. I have shared with you my waves of doubts with regard to Oilspill dotcom: the title of my book, UK .v. US English, dialects etc.

There has been a burst of sunlight in this dark, cloudy week. My editor from England, Alison Walters read my blog, my frustrations and has kindly offered to help me finish the conversion from UK to US.

And now, driving home in the dark, I am listening to Writing Down the Bones, read by the author, Natalie Goldberg. Though her book galvanized me eight years ago, I am finding it tough to follow her voice reading and commentating. This is a tough judgment as I am comparing her to the actors and actresses that narrate audio books, utilizing their talents and professional experience to perfect each individual character (listen to Carrington MacDuffie reading Christopher Buckley’s Florence of Arabia – how do they not have Oscars for such performances!).

But it is tough to hear Ms. Goldberg, especially when you are tired, especially when you are cruising along the freeway. Just as I come off of the Bay Bridge, I see a mass of flashing lights: police, ambulances and tow trucks. The accident clears the tired fog from my mind and I hear a sentence from my audio book.

“Own it … and then let it go,” says Ms. Goldberg.

If I’m honest, I’m not sure what she’s actually referring to. But inside, I understand with clarity that she is talking to me. And she is telling me why I got stuck this morning; why I sat paralyzed before the computer screen.

I must let it go. I have finished.

When Alison returns my manuscript, I will accept her corrections and submit the manuscript.

Then I will move on: to the book cover, the reviews and blurbs, the plans for the launch. And I will allow myself to write again. Perhaps my next novel, Lost Heroes, perhaps something else.

But I will finish with Oilspill dotcom: cast it into the hands of the publisher. Let the manuscript become the book. I have done all I can. I own it. Now it is time to let it go.

Thank you, Natalie Goldberg.

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