A New Beginning

05/15/2016 at 10:22 pm (Author Updates, Publishing News)

The big announcement here is this: The Bear Who Broke The World will be published in 2017 by Wheeler Street Press!

Now, to the particulars leading up to that decision:

It’s been almost three years since my last post here, which admittedly is a long time to stay away. A whole lot of life… and waiting… has taken place in those years, with the evolution of this book many times at a standstill.

Since July 2013, after my amazing time at Squaw Valley, I have written numerous drafts, persuaded writers and readers I respect to read those drafts in their entirety, and done my damnedest to get an agent interested enough in the novel to offer representation. All of this has taken time, with the work itself demanding many, many hours of my vigorous attention to the rewriting, editing, and eventual polishing of this story about two brothers trying to navigate their world in 1976 Berkeley. Beyond the work, there has been my following agents on Twitter, researching websites about the publishing business and the gatekeepers who guard it so rapaciously, networking with my fellow MPW classmates and asking favors of my fellow teachers. Gina Nahai, in particular, has been an unflagging supporter of me and my novel, reading the entire manuscript and brainstorming with me on the best ways to get an agent to say “yes” – she has offered more to this project than I ever imagined or hoped she would.

The good news is that the majority of people who have read the manuscript drafts liked what they read – there have been exceptions here and there, but if everyone gave me nothing but positive feedback, I would be both suspicious of their critiques and question the fact that this many people were in accord over a piece of writing. I know from my own experience as a reader that some books I fall in love with are books that others hate with a passion, just as books I cannot stomach are some of my friends’ favorite reading experiences. So, I recognize how huge the subjective opinion reigns in matters of creative works. It doesn’t necessarily make it any less painful to get lukewarm feedback about an endeavor I put a whole lot of years, my blood, sweat and brain matter into… but I totally get it.

Which brings me to the agent search. This is where a lot of the waiting has rested, with a search that has been ongoing for more months than I would like to be reminded of, and which failed to garner a single offer of representation. I learned a lot from a different book I queried agents and publishers with back in 2014, which resulted in a lot of polite passes and even an offer of publication (which, for reasons still unknown to me, was rescinded before I even saw a contract). So, my approach to querying Bear came with past experience and a predisposition to overall rejection, and I knew what Janet Fitch told me was true: “It’s a numbers game.” Aware of all the pitfalls of sending my baby out into the cold, insular New York literary agent world, I was still surprised by how little actual response I got from my emails. My polished query and the recommendations I had from a few true literary powerhouses were answered with silence; referrals from published authors failed to attract any kind of response from agents. I expected, and actually looked forward to, a deluge of standard, form-letter rejections. What I wasn’t prepared for were all the no-responses, the total lack of interest to even dash off a quick “doesn’t work for our agency, but keep writing!” email. Again, I went into this agent search with my eyes wide open, not expecting anything (knowing full well that just because I would have liked to hear back from them, they really had no obligation to reply to my emails), but hopeful for a modicum of interest.

Once the writing on the wall became unremovable ink that I was unable to interpret as anything other than the harsh truth that no one cared nearly as much about my novel as I did, that’s when my entire outlook on Bear, and its future publication, shifted. That’s when I decided that if I really wanted this book — which I loved and wanted to share with whomever might care enough to read it — to become an actual novel that lived and breathed in the world, then I would have to publish it myself.

Wheeler Street Press was born, and a plan — or series of plans — was hatched. The creation of a publishing company, with the sole purpose of putting in print and in e-book form all of the finished, polished prose I have labored over all these years, was the most promising step forward I had experienced since I can’t remember when.

As I move forward with this blog, and publication through Wheeler Street Press becomes a reality, more details of this process will emerge. In 2017, The Bear Who Broke The World will see publication as both a trade paperback and and e-book. Until then, I will be here, continuing to document the evolution of my novel.

Thanks for coming along for the ride. I’ll do my best to make sure your visits here are worth the trip.


photo by Justin McFarr


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