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 tag “ABNA”

One Door Closes, Another Opens

Yesterday was a crazy day. It began with the news that Unwanted Heroes didn’t make the cut for the last fifty in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards. Good luck to those who survived. I will file my acceptance speech away for another year.

At the end of the day, I wrote the final words of the to Unwanted Heroes’ sequel. I began this book in February, spending about an hour a day writing and a few days of intensive typing. Almost three months and 91,500 words later, I pushed ‘save’ after typing those magical words: THE END.

Obviously, this is still a rough draft which is desperately awaiting the eager eyes of the Berkeley Writer’s Group, as well as a list of  ‘Things to Follow Up On’. But it is an exciting moment when you finish a first draft. It seems as though the story is real.

I’m trying to come up with a creation analogy. Conception happens at the beginning of Chapter One. Holding the real book in your hands is perhaps the actual birth. So I guess, seeing the fetus on the ultrasound and hearing a heartbeat, might serve here.

Best of all, I already have an idea for the next book. But I’m going to hold off in the meantime, in order to edit the two completed manuscripts that I have, and to restore some sanity in my relationship with my wife and children.

I’m sad about ABNA. I thought this might be my year, but I finished the day with a smile on my face, and another story to tell when I am one day a member of the A-list.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

The Right to Respond pt. 2

Yesterday, I mentioned the controversy surrounding a negative book review given by a blogger and the reaction of the author, which kicked up a lot of dirt on the Information Highway.

A good friend of mine,  author Lloyd Lofthouse, has an interesting personal story that touches on this. When he received a bad review from a religious critic who didn’t like the sexual connotations in his first novel, My Splendid Concubine, it made Lloyd reflect on what his Catholic mother would have said. You can read his five short posts here – My Mother Would Have Burned My Book.

Lloyd Lofthouse

I found this fascinating, how we can all live together but in such different worlds. My mother-in-law helped to edit Unwanted Heroes (currently in the 1/4 finals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards) and actually worked on a sexual explicit chapter while she and I sat opposite each other in a coffee shop. Let the record show that the cool, sophisticated one at the coffee table was not the uptight, British author!
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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

 

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Exciting News!

My novel, Unwanted Heroes, just reached the Quarter Final stage of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. It’s down to the last 250 chasing a book contract with Penguin. I received two strong reviews from their experts’ panel and have another month to sweat the next stage!


Thank you to all my friends in the Berkeley Writers Group who helped me hone the final manuscript over the past year.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

A Better Chance Than The Lottery

True, you can become a millionaire from winning the lottery. Also true that there are lottery winners every week. But for the aspiring author, winning the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA) is akin to that precious and elusive lottery ticket.

In today’s economic climate, it is a brave publisher who invests in an unknown author. Yes there are the J.K. Rowlings’ out there, but they are as rare as, well, a winning lottery ticket. Assuming you are not a celebrity or know someone in the industry, it is almost impossible to pick up an agent. Then that agent needs to stay in the business and find a publisher, and then the publisher needs to stay in the business and … well you get the gist.

But once a year, optimism gets the better of us writers. ABNA is the mother of all writing competitions. They accept only 10,000 entries (better odds than the lottery) which then go through a series of rounds until two talented individuals stand alone. Or rather stand with the publishing folks at Penguin Group (USA), Amazon.com, and CreateSpace.

It is an exciting process. At midnight on January 24th, we all sat poised by our computers, all necessary documents ready to upload. In a month’s time we will all anxiously await the first cut. We look first for our own names and then those of our friends who have also entered.

Last year. I reached the last 250 entries. Like any good lottery player, I was already dreaming of my shining literary future. Alas, I went no further and my dreams were put aside in favor of seeking an agent and publisher. I did succeed – I have nothing to complain about. But that didn’t stop me this year watching the clock tick away to midnight and begin the dream all over again.

I will keep you posted – to the bitter end – but until then, allow me to dream.
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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at www.alonshalev.com

"For The Times They Are A-changing" (Bob Dylan)

Firstly, thank you to those of you who connected to my blog (see last entry) and helped to get the blog recognized by Facebook. Not sure yet how this will affect my blog, but any exposure helps.

And thank you to those of you who offered words of support and encouragement when we heard that Unwanted Heroes didn’t make the Amazon Breakthrough Novel semifinal.

Oilspill dotcom has been selling despite my relative inactivity. There is a possibility of the novel being picked up by an independent publisher. Exciting! If this goes through the book will be released with a new cover and title. It is also undergoing a round of editing.

Part of these changes will include a change of direction for this blog and that I hope to outline in the next posting. But the overall concept is to reach out to people interested in the book world, rather than just in me.

And the book world is certainly changing. I am sitting in a Starbucks on the corner of Sansome and Greenwich, under the shadow of Coit Tower. I have a meeting in another hour for Hillel. Looking around, this is a young business crowd. Though clothes are relatively formal (this is California), people are groomed and sharp.

It is, however, early. Another hour before they must enter their offices and cubicles. Time to unwind, read a book or newspaper. But as I look around, I feel a thrill. An elderly gentleman with graying curly hair has the large kindle. I remember reading how older people are buying the bigger model, the 9.7″ version (don’t be impressed, I looked it up). They are not techno-geeks, but enjoy the option for bigger font.

Near this man, someone has another white tablet, but I can see it is different. Perhaps it is the Barnes and Noble nook. A woman with a bright read umbrella has a matching device, which I can’t help laughing at. Did she really color coordinate her accessories? Was this the Sony Reader? Alas, I never saw an iPad, which would have rounded off the experience. Still last Thursday, after a meeting at the Boudin café in the Stonestown Mall, I had slipped into the Apple shop and fondled one of their new, shiny devices. Quite a thrill.

The world is changing. And I am excited about the change, excited for the environmental impact, for no longer having to schlep books in your bag, the ability to lower prices and therefore make more books more accessible. I am also upset that the book I have been carrying around for the last week, brought brand new, is now creased and bent.

But I haven’t bought a device. It is partly financial, partly that I am sure the models in a year’s time will have ironed out the kinks, but also that I love holding a book and browsing a bookstore. And I love the bookshelves in my house (and other peoples). It is hard to explain. Financially, while I do buy books, I also lean heavily on the public library to satisfy my literary thirst.

Still the times are changing and I am feeling the pressure to change with them. So here is my question:

Do you have a kindle, nook, sony reader or iPad (or another model that I am not aware of)? Please let me know if you do, when you use it, how happy you are with it and whether it has really replaced the physical page.

Also, do you take it with you into the bath?

Good Writing,

Alon

Update 07/01/2010: Oilspill dotcom is currently selling on Amazon’s Kindle for $3.19.

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