Category Archives: publishing

In which I turn a bad review into an endorsement through the magic of ellipses

Man, this past week or so has sucked on a level which is starting to reach comical proportions.  First my novel collapsed.  Then my bicycle got stolen.  Then I got food poisoning on Wednesday night which caused me to spend most of Thanksgiving weekend puking.  Then this morning I woke up to a shitty review from Kirkus.  Actually, it wasn’t so much a review as a reductive and dismissive plot summary.  Are they supposed to do that?  Pepper their careless assessment with spoilers?  It doesn’t seem very sportsmanlike.

Anyway, I spent the afternoon in bed feeling sorry for myself.  Then I thought about how magical punctuation is.  More specifically, the power of the ellipsis.  Check it out:

“Metafiction … culminate[s in]… […]remarkable… literary…romance … [T]he book is a… goldmine.”

Kirkus Reviews

I was all bummed that I couldn’t use the word “gifted” because it didn’t come in the right order until I saw that the word “remarkable” (even better!) was positioned correctly, as long as you removed that pesky “un.”

Pretty sweet, no?  Worthy jacket copy, I would say.

Whoa, the colors…

Developments!

(1) This blog now has its own pimptastic domain name!  Welcome to elenamaulishapiro.com.  Aw yeah.  If you click on the link, it will take you…  where you are.  I know.  Life is like that.

(2) I just got my very first review ever for 13 rue Thérèse, on Library Journal.  It is here (you’ll have to scroll a bit to find me).  I had a tiny heart attack when I got to the word VERDICT in red all-caps like that, as if they were going to take me out back and execute me.  But, the verdict is positive, so, huzzah!  And with a comparison to the awesome Nick Bantock!  Huzzah x2!  And I can finally say I’ve had press.  Oooooooh I’m going to put it on my Press page right now.

Sweet.

(3) I printed out what I have of my next book so far, about 20,000 words.  (Somewhere around 80 pages)  It felt good to see it on paper, because when you’re just typing away on a Microsoft document, it doesn’t feel like you’re actually making any progress.  Also I got terribly stuck and needed to read it through, to see if I could see any semblance of structure emerging from my pile of fragments.  I realized today that a lot of the stuff I’ve been writing lately actually belongs way in the beginning, so that’s nice.  After I’ve finished marking it up, there will be much shuffling.

(4) You can make colorsAll over your text! Wheeeeeeeee! Doing this repeatedly would not at all get annoying!

(Sorry, I just discovered this making VERDICT all scary and red to mimic the typesetting on the Library Journal site…  I will attempt to contain myself in the future.  But I can make no promises.)

worms everywhere

So, I went to NCIBA trade show on Friday evening and it was fun, if somewhat surreal.  NCIBA stands for Northern California Independent Booksellers Association, so I got to sit at my little author table and chat with lots and lots of book sellers.  Also sign galleys for them.  I’d never signed my name so many times before.  After a while, it started to dissolve.  Actually, seeing a tabletop covered with multiples copies of my book had the same effect–something about all that repetition induces the same sort of vertigo as standing between two mirrors that are facing each other.

A couple of the book sellers already knew who I was, and even what I looked like.  It occurred to me that this is what any amount of fame entails: people you don’t know know who you are.  Which is…  Spooky!  Let’s just say I’m not worried about finding paparazzi digging through my trash, but still, having a public face to any degree requires some adjustment.  At least I am not a memoirist, thank God.  Fiction affords me a covering, however flimsy.

Meanwhile I am about 15,000 words into In The Red.  While I know most of what happens in the story, it is dreadfully hard to make this narrative take any sort of shape since it insists on coming out in disorderly fragments.  It’s like I’m getting shipments of hashed meat and bone from which I’m somehow supposed to eventually reconstitute the entire cow.  Sometimes one of the bone pieces is sort of an interesting shape.  This is a conversation between Irina and Andrei, shortly after he tells her a hypothesis about something that is awful, and yet has a certain air of inevitability:

“One body for another,” he said placidly, “that is the way it works.”

How did he do this?  This relentless disdain for all people, this ability to carve them up until they were all selfish and rotten.  It was a talent—a talent for making the world ugly?  No, it was not that he made it ugly, how could he make it ugly sitting there all golden skin and lithe musculature and iron-gray eyes?  Filled with stark knowledge, yes, but so beautiful himself he could make nothing ugly.  It was worse.  He stripped and peeled and sliced everything until loneliness bled out of every cut.

“Andrei,” I said, “you’re disgusting.”

I expected him to laugh then; that was mostly the way he ended these kinds of conversations.  He never became offended.  He was impossible to offend.  At least he was true in that way.

He didn’t laugh.  He looked at me very seriously, at the outline of my body that I’d pulled the sheet over while he remained naked.  “How much more disgusting would I be,” he said, “if I came to you in the guise of a good man?”

I hadn’t thought of explicitly connecting these two things before: inability to be offended and being true.  But when I put the words down on the page, they made sense.  Say someone accuses you of something.  If you know yourself completely and the accusation is true, it will not faze you because you know it already.  If it is false, you will merely feel a sense of dim puzzlement as to where your accuser could have gotten such an idea.  If you react explosively with HOW DARE YOU? then somewhere along the line, you have told yourself a lie, and indignation is the handiest way to keep yourself from acknowledging it.  Being offended is the defense mechanism of the false.

And that is only one of the cans of worms this roughly sketched scene decided to open.  That is the problem with this book: I don’t know how to make order of it because it just keeps opening cans and there are worms everywhere.

Seriously, don't open it.

forthcoming press, without Posh Spice

Let us mourn the passing of the Litquake sticker on the sidebar.  Yea and verily, it was a fine sticker, and will be missed–from there and also from my Events page.  My poor Events page looks rather naked now, since it only displays one event for March 5 of next year.  Stuff will fill in before then as the publication date approaches.  I have an author thingy to go to this Friday evening, but didn’t put it up on this website because it’s some kind of industry trade show.  I’m not sure what I will do there–I guess try to look marketable to book sellers?

The Litquake reading was pretty fun.  Afterward I went to the super-secret invite-only party for industry people where I thoroughly demonstrated my embarrassing inability to mingle.  I’m already daunted by making chit chat in the best of circumstances; add loud music and darkness and I’m completely done for.  At my reading, I did give my contact information to a nice lady from the magazine Poetry Flash who wanted to interview me–which reminds me: I had my first interview ever with Wendy Werris from Publishers Weekly a couple of weeks ago.  It was a lovely experience and I will look forward to her forthcoming article and review of my book.  The interview should be out in a December issue; possibly the review also, though that’s not yet certain.

All of this means–hang onto your pants for this excitement–that in the not-too-distant future, there will be actual content to display on my Press page not involving photoshopped images of myself with Posh Spice.  Sweet.

Here is the UK cover!

I am not real people; I like to tell stories and sleep a lot.

My health has kind of sucked lately, which unfortunately means I haven’t written anything in a while.  My ideas for my next book are sort of suspended in amber right now while my body is being an ass.  But, I got another blurb for 13 rue Thérèse and it is totally huggable, check it out:

13 rue Therese is a wildly imaginative, multifaceted, confection of a novel.  Like a master magician, Elena Mauli Shapiro gently introduces the beguiling Louise, and asks us to participate in solving her many mysteries.  Louise’s story, we are warned, has ensnared many great minds.  By the novel’s heady conclusion, we too have fallen captive to this most mischievous and provocative heroine.

–Maria Semple, author of This One is Mine

What a lot of great adjectives!  I eat them up.  Nom nom.

Meanwhile I got a confirmation e-mail for my reading at Litquake’s Lit Crawl on October 9th in San Francisco and I am very excited about it.  Not least because the e-mail included stuff to paste on my blog.  Because I am a big dork, I love to paste stuff.  Witness:

If you click on that cute little sticker, it will take you to the Litquake site listing all the cool events for the whole festival.  The specific event I will be reading at is listed here.  I also put it on my Events page.  Lit Crawl looks like a ginormous literary progressive, like bar-hopping with stories.  After the whole shabang, I have been invited to this party for which my name was put on a list.  Whoa.  I am also having business cards printed (a couple of people at the Sacramento panel asked me for one, which totally confused me, until I realized that I look like a grown-up, and technically maybe even a professional, and that I should have one).  Plus I finally broke down and acquired an iPhone.  All these things are harbingers of definite adulthood but I refuse to pay attention.  (Adults have great toys though.  Did you know that the primary function of the iPhone has nothing to do with telephone calls and everything to do with Pacman and taking goofy videos of your cats?)

Speaking of adulthood, when signing up for the iPhone, I had to go through this big security rigmarole during which I was asked about my mortgage and car loans.  Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!  Real people with real grown-up jobs at which they have to wear real grown-up clothes and use hilarious words like “synergy” and “productize” and “thinking outside the box” have mortgages and car loans!  I am not real people; I like to tell stories and sleep a lot.  I know: I am a bad, bad American.  Maybe it is because I am a native speaker of French but I cannot hear the word mortgage without being overly reminded of its etymology, which comes from the French “mort” and “gage,” literally: DEATH PLEDGE.  Oh dear.  Why would I want to sign up for one of those?

While we ponder that, here is another sticker for the road:

peeking around the stage curtain

I spent the evening in Sacramento at my first speaking engagement as an author!  It was a novel writing & publishing panel at UC Davis Extension, where I’ll also be teaching a course in about a month.  Anyway, I got to chat about my book and how it came to be, from inception to the travails of getting it represented and published.  It was the largest audience I have addressed so far (around 80?) save for the one time I got to introduce Tobias Wolff to an auditorium of about 300.  It was somehow not nerve-wracking at all; I guess all the teaching experience is good for making you mellow in front of groups of people.  When I did the Tobias Wolff thing five years ago, I was all shaky and suspected I might pass out!

While I was there, I got penciled in by some Sacramento library organization for a book round table thingy in March that sounds pretty fun.  When I get the e-mail with the details, I should forward it to my publicist to make sure it’s okay.  One of the other writers on tonight’s panel keeps a literary blog and asked if I could have my publisher send her galleys to review.  The lesson here, I guess, is that speaking engagements come with crazy amounts of networking.  Cool, because I suck at seeking that sort of stuff out for myself.

Other exciting buzz-type stuff: galleys are clearly being sent out to book bloggers.  I googled myself to find out what a prospective student might see if they searched for me and found this, this, and this.  That last one has a photo of the adorable package the book came in, with wrapping paper that matches the lid of Mme Brunet’s box, a tin of French candies, and a personal note from my editor.  Damn yo, Reagan Arthur Books knows how to do it up nice.

So, sleepy time for me.  It will be pleasant to drift off thinking there are people out there in the great big universe who are excited to read my baby.