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Entries in Booktrope (11)

Friday
May062016

Booktrope: My path to reinvention

Creative writing can be a pathetically lonely pursuit. And a demoralizing one. It is not for the feint of heart. (Yet, the feintly hearted pursue it--trust me.)

There is only so much unrelenting rejection a sensitive soul can take before it starts to eat away at your feelings of self worth and challenge your creativity.

That’s why I need to tell you that one company blessed my life five-and-a-half years ago and changed me in ways I could have never imagined when I began writing fiction 11 years ago, keeping me in the writing game.

Yes, that company is Booktrope.

Despite the fact that Booktrope announced they have to cease operations at the end of this month, I want you to know that they gave me a foothold to pursue publication for as long as I wish to play. They helped me realize success and recover my confidence to a degree I never thought possible. 

Speaking on a fiction panel with Chris Hinz and Mary Beth Matteo at the Reading Public Library

In 2010, after completing my thesis for my M.A. program—a humorous novel—I began shopping it. I was hardly new to the trials of querying agents and publishers. I’d been doing it since 2005 and even obtained a literary agent from Foundry Literary and Media in 2008 for GRACE UNEXPECTED, after pitching that novel aggressively for a year.

Because that agent and I parted ways, when my master’s thesis was ready to shop, I queried agents for six months. Got a great response, too. I received 19 requests for partial and full manuscripts, had two agents read the entire work and say how much they liked it, yet I received no offers of representation.

I shot one more arrow into the air, sending off a partial manuscript to Booktrope, having heard about them on Twitter. And I received word back from Booktrope’s co-founder Ken Shear that they wanted to publish what would be called DON JUAN IN HANKEY, PA.

I feel as though I owe Booktrope and all the folks who toiled there to try to make this enterprise work my life. Or at least, I owe them my midlife.

Midlife is a time in a woman's life when people begin to forget you exist--unless of course you are Madonna. (We are the same age and have so much more in common--I like lace, she likes lace, I can crawl on my belly especially getting out of a sand chair, she crawls on her belly--that I thought I'd use her as the gold standard of middle age. Soon millennials will be saying Madonna who?)

I published my first novel with Booktrope, and my life began anew. At age 52, somehow I mattered again, for something more than being someone's wife or mother. I added artistic value to the world. I had written things that made a difference in people's lives, or so they said. 

I met wonderfully generous book bloggers. I received extraordinary endorsements of my writing from perfect strangers:

"Don Giovanni has never been more fun. Kudos to Gale Martin for offering up something fresh and doing it with operatic flair. Standing O, for sure." -- Shirley Y. Thomas

Kirkus Reviews, "Packed with comic misadventures, mystery, intrigue and opera lore, the book rollicks along to a satisfying conclusion." -- Don Juan in Hankey, PA

Curled Up with a Good Book - 5 stars for DON JUAN IN HANKEY, PA from Barbara Bamberger Scott, "Charming, intelligent and welcome first novel." 12/07/11

Grace Unexpected by Gale Martin might just be one of the most smart and funniest books I’ve read in sometime. Book review by Ali Crean, All the Things Inbetween, 1/16/14.

Gale does such an amazing job at crafting realistic characters but adding a fun little flair to each of them, Book Review of Grace Unexpected by Sara Palacios, Chick Lit Plus, 2/28/13.

I had the chance to do readings at bookstores and galleries:

I received feature coverage from the media:

WPSU/NPR Radio BOOK REVIEW: DON JUAN IN HANKEY, PA, BookFest, PA, 7/5/12

Centre Daily Times, "BOOK REVIEW: ‘Don Juan in Hankey, PA’ an entertaining opera tale," 6/29/12

A Comic Opera is the Basis for Funny Fiction, Book Review, Lancaster Sunday News, Jo-Ann Greene, 12/4/11 

Lovely, generous people sent me photos of DON JUAN IN HANKEY, PA from around the world:

 

My husband realized I was a humorist and laughed out loud, especially at Don.

Friends and colleagues came out of the wordwork and invited me to read with them. Just last week, someone at a memorial service stopped me and said that she was so-and-so's cousin and she'd read WHO KILLED 'TOM JONES'? and that whenever she needs to lift her spirits, she thinks of my book.

Bloggers like Jen created outfits for my literary characters:

None of this richness--none of it--would have been possible with Booktrope's founder Ken Shear believing in my first book and encouraging me to publish more books with them.

Because of Booktrope, I learned a ton about publishing, kept practicing my craft, and my writing was able to touch so many more people than I'd ever dreamed of. And I sold two Booktrope novels to an Amazon imprint called Encore, which generated more sales than I ever expected when I started on this journey some five years ago.

I can't thank the Booktrope team enough for giving this experiment a hearty go. Besides Ken and Katherine, others at and working with Booktrope who made a profound difference in my writing career included Jesse James Freeman, Emily Clanton, Heather Ludviksson, Adam Bodendieck, Andy Roberts, Evie Hutton, Toddy Downs, Greg Simanson, and many fellow authors.

I can't and won't join the chorus of those who think Booktrope owes them something. The blessings I realized as the result of this publishing relationship will be cherished the rest of my life. Did I work hard to sell my books? Absolutely. Hundreds of hours of life energy invested. Did I spend my own money to help boost book sales? Yes, too much of it over the last several years.

The publishing industry is a fragile one, endeavoring to meet changes in the markets and technology, and often getting clobbered in the process. Booktrope is not the first publishing enterprise to close and won't be the last. To have found a great publishing partner for five+ years--who believed in me and my work, who got my work noticed, who helped me reinvent myself--sounds like a sweet deal to me. 

With gratitude to everyone at Booktrope,

Gale Martin 

Wednesday
Jan012014

Booktrope author spotlight month on RW Connect

Tess Thompson. Jesse James Freeman. Toddie Downs. Elise Stephens. Sárka-Jonae Miller. Nicole Y. Walters. Jennifer Hotes.

These are just a few of the accomplished Booktrope authors whose published works will be featured on Author Spotlight Month at Readers & Writers Connect during January of 2014.

It's going to be great books and talented authors galore, people! 

D.E.L. Connor's new releaseRead profiles, reviews, and excerpts every day this month from D.E.L Connor, author of Spirit Warriors: The Concealing (Volume I) on January 1 to Jonathan Bruce's Project Norwoods on the 31st. 

And yours truly will be featured on her launch day--January 21-- of her third novel and first murder mystery WHO KILLED 'TOM JONES'?

Read about a different book and a different author each and every day, including one of my favorite Booktrope books Summer Melody by Toddie Downs, which will be featured tomorrow. Read my review on Goodreads.

I am so proud of all the work published by my Booktrope compadres, many of which I have read and enjoyed myself I just had to let you know about this spectacular month-long promotion.

Happy reading!

Wednesday
Oct312012

Author Jesse James Freeman's newest tricks a Halloween treat on Writer Wednesday!

Time zombies. Vampires eating people. Zombies eating people.

Fantasy/horror author and raconteur Jesse James Freeman's newest release, Billy Purgatory and the Satanic Five, is full of scary, mind-bending tricks. It has everything you've ever wanted and more from a gothic dystopian fantasy, according to this Amazon reviewer:

This book has a lot more of the same awesome-ness as the first book...only bigger...and more badass!!! We see the return of some of our favorites (Billy, Anastasia, Lissandra, the Time Zombie and so on), but it also adds some new names to the mix...yay!!!"

Besides, I couldn't think of anyone more fun and festive to feature for this special Halloween edition of Writer Wednesday than Jesse James Freeman, fellow Booktropian, whom I call JJ.

Billy II now available in print and e-book!That's because Billy Purgatory and the Satanic Five, the sequel to Billy Purgatory: I Am the Devil Bird, was just released in print and e-book.

As the governor of New Jersey used to say, "Billy Purgatory and Halloween--perfect together!"

By the way, JJ is so prolific that this is his second Writer Wednesday interview inside six months. I talked to Jesse in June of 2012 about the release of Billy Purgatory I. (You can read my review of Billy Purgatory I  here.)

So, welcome back to "Scrivengale," JJ. What did you hope to accomplish with this sequel?
Creating a sequel is an exhaustive process that required a ton of mental and physical preparation. I hit up Goodwill and bought a ton of work-out VHS tapes. A lot of it was stuff like Jane Fonda Lookit how I glow in the dark in this spandex and this woman named Susan Powter yelling at me (I thought exercise made ya relax?), but I have to say that I found Jennifer Love Hewitt’s I Know How You Sweat Last Summer helpful in ways that I could never have imagined beforehand. I went all natural on the health food: Eggo Waffles, Macaroni & Cheese (which counts, cause the box is made out of recycled cardboard) and anything largely composed of high-fructose corn syrup – because much like the hemp-adjacent movement, it’s good for ya because it comes from the Earth. I cut out the Jack & Diet Cokes and just stuck with the Jack, because drinking that Aspercreme* they sweeten that stuff with’ll kill ya.

Author Jesse James Freeman, who introduced me to the word "cabal."After all that health stuff my mind cleared up and I just wrote a book. I tried to add in more of what makes up successful Action: zombie attack on mad-scientist mansion, dodging Time Zombie and dinosaur-giraffes across Africa, strong and attractive women with ninja-swords! Romance: characters showing off their feelings and acting kinda dopey while showcasing their softer side, dating issues between skateboard badasses and slightly-psychotic emotionally-unavailable vampire girlfriends, strong and attractive women with ninja-swords! Buddy Movies: vampires & doomsday survivalists teaming up to sell crystal-meth, road trips across America with the potential to run into Brad Pitt in Bat Country, strong and attractive women with ninja-swords! Legit Horror: vampires eating people, zombies eating people, Greek Goddesses and Medusas (I don’t think they eat anyone), strong and attractive women with ninja-swords (I don’t think they eat anyone either, but part of my writing process is getting really drunk and then blacking out)!

Have Billy and his colorful fictional colleagues camped out in your head? Do you ever tell them to go make camp somewhere else?
They honestly don’t go anywhere right now. I tell myself when I get done with a Billy Purgatory book that I’m gonna write this project or that project before I start working on the next one — it never happens. I was making note cards in Scrivener at 4AM for Billy3 right after I finished Billy2. A lot of my problem for this series has been that I come up with so many ideas that they don’t all fit into a book so I just carry them over to the next book — this makes me already have a third of the next one written and I just shrug and start writing it immediately. It was gonna be two books at first, then it was gonna be a trilogy, and now it’s planned out for (Satanic) five books. A screenwriter buddy of mine told me something that one of the editors for The X-Files told him when asked how many seasons they were planning on doing: “The plan is we’re going to wait until we have a season that really tanks and then we’re going to go one more.”

Right now I’m in a situation where I fall asleep thinking about plotting and then I keep doing it in my dreams. I know this sounds weird, but last week I dreamed the ending of Billy3. So, I guess, for better or worse, that right now I’m in the Billy Purgatory business.

"Thou shall not covet thy fellow writer's crocheted doll," saith the Lord thy God.If you were Raptured in the Second Coming, what would you want the sinners left on earth to be saying about you? About your writing?
The chances of me being Kirk Cameron’d into the sky when glorious trumpets sound are pretty slim. Hypothetically though, I guess that I’d like people to say that whenever they read something that I wrote they were intrigued and entertained to the point that they forgot about all the shitty things that go on in the world for just a little while. The Tweets and emails and reviews I’ve gotten so far seem to indicate that people like what I write, so I can say that if I’m blessed in any way it’s because of that and I never take it for granted.

I love talking to people who read and write and do all manner of creative stuff, I’m inspired by people and anyone who wants to send me a Tweet or smoke-signal of any kind is encouraged to do so and I’ll hit you back, I promise. I love all of you and you have no idea how grateful I am for all the friends I’m making.

And while, like Billy, I’m sure my funeral will be a big to-do, you don’t have to say anything sweet about me when Armageddon hits, you’ll probably be busy fighting zombies or looking for gas Road Warrior style — cause if anyone gets things done when the shit goes down, it’s the sinners.

How do you know when a group of people is actually a cabal as opposed to a tight-knit clique or an insidious conclave?
I’ve found that cabals have a sneaky element to them. Tight-knit cliques want you to know they’re tight, and popular, and cool. Cabals keep their coolness secret. Mean Girls or The Heathers weren’t in cabals. The Kardashians aren’t a cabal. The Honey-Boo-Boos (Editor's note: Who the heck are the
Honey-Boo-Boos?) are probably in a cabal, anyone who clips that many coupons and has such a dependence on code names is definitely up to something.

A square dance flash mob dispensing with the yetis and taking over Jesse's barnIf you could organize a Billy Purgatory flash mob of Booktropians and others to publicize Billy II, what would you have them doing and where?
Don’t you have to leave your house to be in a flash mob? It’d have to be in one place, and that place would be my house. I got plenty of room to invite people over and I could move the tractor and the yetis out of the barn. Tess Hardwick is a helluva square dancer and there’s already a disco ball hanging from the rafters. If the party turns out like they normally do we wouldn’t have to even Tweet cause the reporters would take care of all that.

So, save me a dance, Gale.

See that bespectacled figure on the bottom left? That's Steven Luna, author of 'Joe Vampire.'How will having a likeness of Steven Luna on the cover of Billy II impact your sales?
Much like all iconic art: Farrah Fawcett posters of yore, the work of Patrick Nagel, Hobos Playing Poker, having Luna grace the back cover of my book has definitely kept the pimp-hand of my book sales strong. I’m trying to get Luna a deal with Maybelline right now, because it’s way uncool to hate him ‘cause he’s beautiful (I might have just drunk Roger Sterling mixed up ad phrases there, the important lesson in all this is: Read Joe Vampire by Steven Luna!)

Billy at age 10 by artist Moses JaenRumor has it you chose the Satanic Five so that you'd be raking in five more crocheted dolls. Now's your chance to tell the world why you settled on Satanic Five? Why not four or six?
My friend Moses Jaen, who is an incredibly talented artist and sculptor from NYC, drew the first picture of what age 10 Billy Purgatory looked like. He called the image Billy Purgatory and the Curse of the Satanic Five. I asked him, “What’s the Satanic Five?” and he said he didn’t know, just sounded cool. Anyway, it stuck. I guess it’s kind of an homage to stuff like The Fantastic Four and then The Four from Warren Ellis’ genius Planetary comic. I try to take stuff back to comics and pulp movies and adventure serials and all kinds of stuff that sounds all genre-cool. 

Scary stuff. REALLY SCARY!Did the Satanic Five stir up "Frankenstorm?"
They didn’t actually. I wish I had some of their super-science-magic-powers to use to make that thing vanish. I have so many friends right in the path of that thing and I am wishing all of them, and you, positive thoughts, love, and good energy. I know how devastating something like that can be, I rode out Hurricane Rita in 2005. It seemed like a good idea at the time (I’m over 100 miles from the Gulf of Mexico). So here I am with the dogs in the dark listening to the wind howl and pine trees snap all night long, and I was sure that every time I heard that pop the tree was heading right for me. It’s a really scary feeling when the wind can snap a pine tree that I can’t wrap my arms around (and I have big arms) like a toothpick and send it flying. My power was out for 29 days afterward.

Be safe. If they tell you to evacuate don’t be a dumbass like I was. In fact, if there’s a theme to this interview, it’s probably that you should never do anything I’d do.

* * *

Want to keep in touch? You can find Jesse at all these places below:

Instagram: JesseJamesFreeman

 

*Note to Jesse: Aspercreme is a sundry to top all sundries. What did generations of Americans do before Aspercreme? Never had painful swelling and inflammation of muscles and joints? Sometimes ice isn't enough.
Thursday
Oct182012

Everybody loves JJ or why my friend Jesse got a crocheted doll!

Hey, I dint get no stinkin' Grace Savage doll last week.

(For the uninitiated, Grace Savage is the protagonist in my newest novel Grace Unexpected.)

Jesse James Freeman. Nice guy. Lucky stiff. People make dolls for him.But author, raconteur, and social philosopher Jesse James Freeman got a doll. I kid you not.

One of his fans crocheted a likeness of Billy Purgatory, the skateboarding hero of his dystopian novels.

Jesse has two Billy books out now, and Billy III isn't far behind. But it only took one of his shiny urban fantasies to inspire a reader to whip out her knitting needles and start working a skein of Red Heart Super Ewe Stardust.

Aren't Billy P's little crocheted skate shorts too darn cute?The story goes that Jesse's superfan crocheted the doll as an early birthday present for him. Now, I don't know when Jesse's birthday is. And I don't know how many birthdays "JJ" (that's what I like to call him) has had on Planet Earth.

But what I do know is that on that day of his ushering in to this wide and wooly world, there's going to be heapum lottum hooplah and shakin' and quakin' for Jesse James Freeman on the World Wide Web.

Think accolades on Facebook. Hoohahs and booyahs on Twitter. Yes, he's really that nice. And he's a poplar guy (as opposed to an elm guy). So poplar, that people make dolls that are likenesses of his book characters and send them to him.

Jesse is Director of Community Management for Booktrope Editions, which means he interfaces with all the Booktrope authors, myself included, nearly 24-7, across several media, which must be like herding brooding, somewhat needy, and/or hypermanic cats most days.

JJ is absolutely up to the task. He keeps us all humming (and crocheting, apparently. Not that I'm bitter, no, not me). He's a great guy! If you don't believe me, read this Q&A.'Grace Unexpected' Grand Prize shows up when you Google Billy Purgatory

But back to Jesse's doll. Here's what sticks in my gizzard about this crocheted doll. Jesse's superfan won the grand prize giveaway during the online launch for my newest novel Grace Unexpected, which included a copy of, you guessed it, Billy Purgatory.

That was the beginning of the end for good old Don Juan and ultimately, Gracie Mae.

Yes. Ms. Fuller won this pink-polka dotted tote packed with Booktrope books from little ol' me because she left the most delightful comment on this blog. She said:

You had me at polka dot tote! Add in the books and I'm totally there! Awesome way to get some of your fellow authors names out there! :-) --Stephanie Fuller

If you were me, you'd have given her that prize-winning tote, too, wouldn't you?

I thought I had a ghost of a chance of cultivating a new reader and a loyal fan--sending her all that swag all the way from Seoul, Korea. But no, I was outshone by the supernova that is Billy Purgatory. Or more accurately, Billy's creator--Jesse James Freeman. If you Google "Billy Purgatory," a picture of my tote bag shows up. Word. That's super-de-dooper outshone. Which means no doll for me, sister.

Talk about having to lick the salt out of the proverbial wound like, I don't know, a Time Zombie or something.

But as my dearly departed Grandmother Emma Cabbage used to say, "If you can't beat 'em, help 'em beat up the smaller, weaker ones instead."

Wait. I think I lost something in the translation from the original Pennylvania Dutch.

(Well, you get the idea.)

Grace loves animal prints. Rowrr!So, I decided to make my own GRACE UNEXPECTED doll. Notice her smokin' hot leopard-print sarong--she's not named Grace Savage for nothin'.

Come to think of it, Grace looks a lot like old Grandmother Cabbage.

So what do think of that, Jesse James Freeman?

Huh?

You may be the nicest guy in the world (or at least in the Continental United States), but you ain't the only Booktrope author with a character doll now!

Nosiree, Billy! Billy Purgatory! (Grace doll sticks out tongue--which is hard to do when your mouth is molded shut.)

JJ, the DOLL WARS are on.

 

 

 

Saturday
Jul212012

Day 5 Winners of the GRACE UNEXPECTED E-book Launch Lollapalooza and Free-market Literary Unleashing

The final crop of winners in the GRACE UNEXPECTED E-book Launch Lollapalooza and Free-market Literary Unleashing is as follows. Stephanie Fuller wins the GRAND PRIZE (pink polka-dotted tote bag filled with Booktrope books)!
Patti Villers wins Chris Stralyn's This Time You Lose, Ginger Marcinkowski wins Holly Rutter Bush's Train Station Bride, LisaC wins Red Tash's Troll or Derby, Wendy Garfinkle wins HS St, Ours' Young Moon, Linda Orlomoski wins Susan Dormady Eisenberg's The Voice I Heard, and Eliza Fayle wins Bharti Kirchner's Tulip Season.
An e-copy of Grace Unexpected to Catherine Dougherty.
A heartfelt mwah! to everyone who stopped by or cheered on Grace and her charming and occasionally dysfunctional cast of characters. It was a FUN week!