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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.
MAR
22

Changes

It’s a strange thing, getting your manuscript back from the editor. On one hand, she’s paid to help you make it better. On the other hand, she gone done marked up this precious thing you’ve spent years working on. And you’d really rather she just find it perfect as is. I realize this latter scenario isn’t realistic. And if she’d told me it was perfect, she probably wouldn’t be a very good editor. But this does mean that I’ll be spending the weekend sifting through a sea of red marks, trying to sort out how to now make the book better based on her edits, feedback, and suggestions.

The editing process in general requires a lot of restraint on the part of a writer. You have to actively stop yourself from being too attached to any one part of the book, from getting a bit defensive at the constructive criticism aimed at this thing you’ve put so much heart and soul into. Because this is the way you want it. This is the way you like it. This is the way you wrote it. It hits me fresh with each new book, the manuscript returned to me peppered with suggested changes. It initially feels quite icky. Oh, hell no am I cutting that part. Or turning that complex sentence into three short and simple ones. Psssshhhh. But it helps to remember that readers won’t necessarily interpret things the way I believe I’m putting them across. They won’t necessarily know what I’m referencing by mentioning, say, a John Cusack movie while inside of Serendipity (doesn’t that one seem obvious, though?), or, perhaps, a poem about what happens to a dream deferred (Langston Hughes, anyone?).

The important thing about this manuscript--and all other manuscripts my editor has handed back to me over the near decade I’ve been working with her—is that there were no major problems that needed fixing. From timing to organization to structure, this one was given a pass. Which is really what I’m looking for with a manuscript, hoping I’ve gotten it to a point where any changes that need to be made are of a small, grammatical variety. Sentences shortened, typos removed, awkward wording replaced. Having achieved this once again is what I’ll be striving to focus on as I go through the marked-up pages this weekend. Cake, right? Let’s hope.

MAR
03

Tiny Beautiful Things

I probably mentioned back in the summer of 2017 that I was reading a book called Tiny Beautiful Things when my suitcase was stolen off of a plane. The book had me spellbound, such that I had to finish the final few pages before getting up. I was at the back of the plane and likely had some time before it was my turn anyway. Had I looked up, I would have seen someone taking my suitcase from the overhead bin and walking off with it. But I didn't look up. I couldn't.

And having now seen the play adapted from the book, I confess a similar sensation came over me, in that I couldn't look away. The neatest thing to me about the book is the letters that comprise it are real letters. Written by real people. So instead of just imagine Cheryl Strayed writing to these very real people who have written about very real, very personal, and in some cases very complex issues and questions, we now get to watch as someone portraying Strayed takes painstaking care to address each person who has written to her as the cherished, searching, and desperate souls they truly are. It's pretty powerful stuff, both the depths of character these letter-writers pull from as well as the boundless empathy that such a unique and textured life allows Strayed to pull from as well.

If the play comes to a theater anywhere near you, go see it. If it doesn't (or even if it does), read the book. You will be inspired. You will be bettered. You will need to keep an eye on your suitcase.

FEB
18

The Hand-Off

This picture is really just because my cat feels like she doesn't get mentioned enough on this blog. Also because I was out of town and we are happy to be reunited. But mostly because the activity in this picture (reading) is significant. Having turned in manuscript #4 to my editor, it means I once again have time for books and the reading of them. 

My editor is the only one who reads my books before they're typeset. This is probably stupid. But it's what I'm most comfortable with. I figure people have different opinions, and the more hands I have in the pot (in the form of people who have read the manuscript), the more feedback I'll get--most likely differing feedback--and at the end of the day, it should come down to my own opinions of how I want this book to be. Not anyone else's.

Needless to say, what my editor thinks of the books is incredibly important to me. Not just because she catches typos and things that could probably be worded better, but also because she's my only test reader. The only one I can ask if a certain thing is offensive or if the timeline is confusing. And so I wait in what I would describe equal parts excitement and anxiety for her to send her edits and overall feedback, hoping beyond hope that she thinks it works, and that she enjoys reading it. 

That's what I hope for all readers, of course. That they settle in for a few hours of escape, feeling upon the book's end that they've truly been somewhere, even if that somewhere is simply somewhere other than where they usually are. 

DEC
02

Manuscript #4: Done

Every weekend I put "write" on my to-do list, which is why this weekend is significant. It's the first time in a couple of years that "write" has been replaced with "edit." Because my fourth manuscript is officially done. There's a lot of work still to do, but I cannot emphasize what a big deal it is to get the writing all down. To finish the last few paragraphs and know that you've come to the natural stopping place. That it all feels done. 

Of course, for me, when I say the manuscript is done, this doesn't mean that it's ready to hand over. I have months of editing to do, not to mention organization and chronology, since I'm the odd memoir writer who does not write in anything resembling chronological order. I just pick a piece or scene or topic and write it up, then pick another one the next time I get a chance to write. So right now it's not in the order I want it to be for you readers. 

Like I said, there's more work to do, but my goal was to have the first draft, to have all the book's innards, written by the end of the year. It feels like a Christmas present to myself that I was able to follow through. Bring on the editing. And also that beach walk.

JUL
08

Because I Also Write Books

It's easy to forget that, especially because there are so many other things to talk about on this blog. Like LeBron. And gemstones. And the fact that I've fallen in love which is totally cutting into my writing time. (Worth it, by the way.) But I do write books. 

I'm currently 60% done with my next manuscript. This will be my fourth book, and 60% feels significant. It feels like we're getting somewhere. And I probably say this with every book (someone should really look into this), but I'm pretty sure this one is my favorite. While the other three each follow a certain theme throughout my entire life thus far, this book is about a single, brief period of my life. It's about a thing I always wanted to do. It's about me doing it, loving/hating it, and ultimately leaving it behind. It's just focused differently...in a way my first three books are not. And I'm also exploring the idea of experimenting with chronology on this one, so you have that to dread look forward to when the time comes.

All good stuff. I like writing so much. I'm grateful it's one of the many aspects of my life. Even if it almost never gets top billing. On this blog or anywhere else. Some things we do simply because we must. Because we are called. Because they are there. Because if we don't, who will ever know that these things happened to us? That we had these feelings? That we dreamed dreams and took risks and failed a lot?

Which is all to say, I'm looking forward to the next 40%.  

MAY
20

A Thousand Splendid Suns

There's always a bit of shame for a bookish, English-degree-holding writer in books she probably should have read but hasn't. For me, most of this gets wrapped up in the classics...books I should have read in high school or college but didn't. Not out of neglect, just out of necessity really. If a teacher assigned The Scarlet Letter over The Grapes of Wrath, then the former is what got read. If a professor preferred As I Lay Dying to Lord of the Flies, then that's what I stayed up all night reading.

Bottom line: there are some definite holes in my literary repertoire. 

Books in more recent history don't make me feel as much guilt over having never read, and while I read The Kite Runner when it was new and on everyone's radar, it didn't bowl me over such that I felt a burning need to read A Thousand Splendid Suns when it followed a few years later. I don't even remember hearing a thing about it. And why was this? Why did no one tell me I had to read it? It's no one's responsibility, yet somehow I feel slighted. Unprepared. Ill-fitted for the world.

I know a play based on a book is totally cheating. I know I have still never read this book. And I know now that it was a mistake not to. Because the Old Globe's theatrical adaption of this book was riveting. It bowled me over--with feeling, with intensity, with injustice, and ultimately with the depiction of the bonds that are possible between women. To know there are such books in the world that remain unread fills me with a panic I can't quite describe. If you know of any, tell me. Tell the world. And then go find more.

MAY
21

Eat Drink Read

When I showed up at the Eat Drink Read fundraiser for the San Diego Council on Literacy, it didn't end up being quite what I expected. A pretty literary person, when I'd heard that chefs would be creating food and drink based on their favorite books, I guess I'd been picturing book books. The classics. You know, Frankenstein or something. But right away I could tell the approach from pretty much all the chefs was something much lighter.

They'd picked children's books, see. And the night was much more delightful for it. Eclairs for Pinocchio's nose. Scattered bean sprout topping for the hungry caterpillar. Mountains of chocolate frosting for Wonka's factory. By the time I finally got to a chef who had tried be somewhat adult in his presentation (The Little Prince had been his book of choice), the chef's thickly-accented description of his ravioli covered in a sauce made from a special kind of cheese I had never heard of was so boring that it was all I could do not to literally RUN over to the Alice in Wonderland table as fast as possible where they had bubbles of hibiscus tea that popped when you oyster-style poured them in your mouth and liquid-nitrogen-soaked cheese cubes that were still smoking as you swallowed. Now that's what I'm talking about. Ravioli? Psssshhh.

The event was a fundraiser, so I was happy to pay the overpriced ticket. Because literacy is such a crucial need, and I think about that not just as a writer and a businesswoman, but as a person with a curious and functioning mind. Learning to read is such a given for so many of us. But that's not the case for everyone. And even when I think about learning to read myself, it's something that's always been easy for me. I read well and I read fast. Again, this is not the case for everyone. And the overall prioritization of literacy, of resources, and of reading-rich communities is something near and dear to my heart.

So read on, San Diego. And I'll be there again next year, front and center, looking for the Frankenstein table as usual.

MAR
05

Warwick's Book Signing

Last weekend may have been my best book signing ever. And it wasn't just because of the turnout...which was amazingly good. It's also because it's the one that felt the most party like, the most celebratory, the one with the most smiles, the most hugs. I just felt so damn supported. Surrounded by people who were genuinely happy for my achievement...and also anxious to read the new book.

I was remarking to someone afterward about the relative letdown of an event like this being over. Because that's all I get. Those two hours of being the focus of a party held in the city where I live is all an author like me gets. An encouraging boost in both confidence and royalties, the first month after a book is released is pretty much the best. "It's all downhill from here," I remarked to someone a couple of days ago. Which when it comes to book sales, barring some fortuitous intervention of luck, it is. Besides, there can only be one launch party. And once it's over, you won't be able to rally a crowd in the same way until your next book comes out.

And so that probably explains why I savored every moment at Warwick's last weekend. Because the day was mine. Completely. And surrounded by a helpful staff, customers as loyal to Warwick's as any bookstore I've ever seen, family, and friends, it's more than enough to keep me going.

One thing to note about this signing in particular was that it got a lot of the "strangers" involved. Meaning customers who just happened to be at the bookstore that day and were not there specifically to see me. Because the party was such a force (champagne! a candy bar! tons of people! a photographer!), people wanted in. Or, at the very least, they wanted to see what the hell was going on. And in many cases, these customers participated in the festivities. They bought books and had me sign them. They told me stories about gems they loved, or about hearts that had been broken. There's a picture in the smattering you'll see below that shows me wearing a pained expression, hands over my heart. It's because one of these customers, a complete stranger to me, had just told me about her daughter's recent heartbreak. And who can't relate to that? Which is why I love this book so much. "Can you give her some words of advice?" the mother asked as she handed me a newly-purchased copy to sign. "Here's to love," I wrote. And just underneath, I added, "Because, eventually. Right?"

One can only hope.

FEB
14

Happy Launch Day!!!

I know it won't eclipse Valentine's Day for anyone else but me, but Happy Launch Day for my new book!! Welcome to the world, Fooled. May it be as loved and inspiring as it's been to me over the past couple of years. And may my exes not hate me for writing about them.

Here's to love.

You, dear readers, certainly have mine.

Today and always.

DEC
15

Early Christmas Present

And there she is, folks. The first copy.

Isn't it pretty??

Still two months before release, but, boy oh boy, it's an amazing thing to see this project you've spent years of your life working on in the form of an actual book.

I'll definitely curl up over my Christmas vacation, read a few chapters, and pretend I don't know how it ends.

DEC
11

Still Holding Out

I've just gone through the part of the book process that involves approving the Kindle files for the ebook. Something made more difficult given that I still do not own a Kindle. Sure, they have programs that allow you to see a "Kindle view" on your laptop, but as I flip from page to page, I can't help but wonder if this is really how things will look to those who end up reading the book on a Kindle.

I'm probably as close to getting one as I have ever been, what with this whole checking my own ebooks prior to launching thing. Not to mention a couple of coast to coast redeye flights last month where my use of the overhead light was seriously pissing off my neighbor. I know, I know, tough shiz, right? We each buy a ticket, and if your neighbor wants her light on, THEN YOU'RE JUST GOING TO HAVE TO DEAL WITH IT. But I'm a bleeding heart. I feel too much. Plus I don't want people wishing me ill while we're all 35,000 feet in the air. So a Kindle appeals to me more these days. As in bye-bye overhead light.

Yet I still can't pull the trigger on making the purchase. And why? On one hand, it's like Lasik. I could get it, but wearing contacts really isn't that bad. Yet I remember going through the same holdout on an iPod years ago, and after getting one, I've never looked back. The difference, however, is that a world without discmans and walkmans is one I can live with. A world without physical books, however? Not so sure. Which is why I just purchased a portable mini book light for my next night flight. And why if you see anything wonky on the Kindle version of my upcoming book, you can rest assured that everything looked *great* on my laptop Kindle viewer.

OCT
23

Subtlety

They do though.

This was part of my display at Friday night's ArtNight Pasadena, an event I've now attended for the second straight year. Part of me wonders why I went back. Not that it isn't a GREAT event, but it's just such a big event. And all the authors get stuffed into various nooks and crannies in the castle-like (charming yet simultaneously stinky) library. Even for the few people who manage to find you in the back corner of this dimly-lit building, most of them aren't really prepared to pay for something inside a library. Not that they couldn't. But that, on principle, they believe libraries should exclusively provide free stuff.

I do kind of get it. An event inside a bookstore will sell exponentially more books.

Not that it was a total loss. I met some great authors, sold a few books, and the best moment was when a woman saw the cover of Jeweled and loudly exclaimed, "I've read that!" She proceeded to ooze to the woman who was with her about what a fascinating and well-done book it is, and you'd think this other woman would have bought a copy. Indeed, before I got into this whole book thing, I was sure all I needed was a small core group of people who read and liked my books, and that The Snowball Effect would take care of the rest. That your book sales largely stop with this core group of people who read and like your books has been one of the most surprising lessons of bookselling.

"I may be back," the woman's friend said after looking at the front and back of Jeweled, an obligatory response to her companion's glowing endorsement.

She never came back, but then again, I knew she wouldn't.

No matter.

I'll continue to do these events because, in spite of everything, I enjoy them. And because you never know who'll come by, like you, read your stuff, and start the snowball that will eventually lead to your big break. Or at least lead to someone loudly exclaiming in front of a room full of book lovers that yours is particularly fine.

OCT
12

Back At It

So's my cat, clearly (some help she is), but the truth of the matter is that I've begun writing again. After I finish a book I take a nice long break. This one has been especially long, but it's not as if there isn't still booky work going on. Typesetting decisions, cover options, etc. Most of this post-writing work falls on others, but still, it feels a bit hasty to the part of myself that can't even be reading more than one book at the same time to begin writing a new book when the last one hasn't even come out yet. But I've begun dabbling and think I may have what may or may not be the first few pieces of what may or may not end up being book #4.

Gotta say. It feels good to be back.

And if you're wondering when book #3 will be dropping, let me just say that if you find yourself in the mood for a collection of tragically relatable love stories (that are mostly not about love) around, say, Valentine's Day, then you just may be in luck.

Until then, I'm just going to keep writing. And (mostly not) loving.

 

 

APR
02

Celebrating the Handoff

I gave my new manuscript to the editor this morning. She might hate it. She might tell me it doesn't work. In which case I'll be pretty discouraged. But that's always the risk you take when you put a piece of yourself down on paper. Particularly when that self is so very ordinary.

But no matter. Because whichever way this goes, tonight I'm celebrating that I've written a new book. It's such an accomplishment. And while as a woman--and a relatively worry-warty one at that--I've become an expert at feeling like I'm not enough, like I'm disappointing others, like I'm not living up to my potential, and like everyone in the office finds me kind of annoying (even though I threw the most amazing chili cookoff last month), tonight I am nothing but proud.

 

FEB
25

Final(ish) Touches

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A friend recently commented that I blog much less now that I’m a working girl again. This is true. So is the fact that I am way behind on getting my new manuscript to my editor, and much for the same reason. I do pine for my days in New York City, most of them employer-free once I quit my job to focus on gemology, nothing really on my to-do list other than a freelance writing gig and a magnificent city to discover. Those were the days.

It’s now been three months since announcing here (And....Done.) that I had finished the new manuscript, so I should probably tell you that what’s happened is I felt like there was something missing. I wanted to add in a more universal component to weave throughout the stories from my own life that fill the book, and so I sent out the survey I mentioned here (Survey Says), and then wrote 8,000 more words to incorporate some of the survey themes and data into the manuscript.

It’s not perfect, and I still have some work to do before I hand it off, but I like it better now. And I like that it’s something new I’m experimenting with. Don’t get me wrong…I’m still filled with that sickening sense of panic that always fills me before the release of a book (“No one will like this.”), but that will probably be there every time. All I can do is take my time, try to get it right on my end, and enjoy every bit of the process.

FEB
03

Survey Says

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For anyone interested in helping me with my new book (or anyone that likes being given a reason to confess their true feelings about love or dish on a bastardly ex), I invite you to take this less-than-five-minute survey. https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/W2SWGHZ

If I use any of your quotes, I'll send you a free copy of the book once it's out. But that does mean you'd have to own up to which one is yours, since the survey is anonymous. In any case, I'm trying to get as many perspectives as possible, so the more the merrier.

Happy surveying.

p$Sch07dkL
NOV
22

And....Done.

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"Call it crazy. It certainly would have been apropos."

This is the line that officially completed my third manuscript, a manuscript I wrote the last 3000 words of this weekend. To be clear, these are not the last 3000 words of the book...just as the line above is not how the book ends...it's simply the conclusion of the last chapter I had left to write up. The one, I hate to say it, I've been avoiding because remembering it sort of sucked.

There's actually a lot in this book that sucks, which means that I have more work to do on this manuscript than on any other. (Not to mention, it's 150% longer than my previous two.) Editing, re-writing, deleting, and--ultimately--making sure this is still a book that I feel good about putting out there. But for now I'm happy. Thrilled, even. I forgot how good it feels just to get the first draft all written out. It feels AMAZING. It propels me forward into the next phase, a phase that revolves around organization and detail and chronology. It's a phase I like so very much. It's a phase that gets me one step closer to holding the finished product in my hands.

Watch out, world. Here come all the love stories.

OCT
25

The Boys in the Boat

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If you haven't read this, you must find yourself a copy pronto. It is everything a good book should be. And it really happened.

That's all.

PS - Why didn't I ever become a rower? My arms would be so toned.

OCT
17

ArtNight Pasadena

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For those waiting on the results of my candy experiment, having a big bowl of chocolate at my table did draw in a record number of visitors. Indeed many other authors at last weekend's Pasadena ArtNight commented to me on how popular my candy was. Not that it really sold me any more books. People just wanted some candy. Jerks.

It was a great event though, the ArtNight. And hats off to Pasadena for arranging such a complete and hassle-free experience. I found myself wishing I could ride the free shuttles around town to the different buildings housing various artists and musicians for the evening. What a great way for a city to see and experience a wide mix of genres and talents. And such a great reminder, for those of us at the library, of just how many people out there write books. Of course, it's also a reminder of how there really is something out there for everyone...and about a billion things not for everyone, which is why indie book selling is and always will be so challenging. There's a relatively (read: extremely) small number of people out there who are interested in reading your books. As opposed to all the other books they could be reading/buying. But I suppose that's what makes the world go round. And keeps the traffic at a book fair moving. As for that traffic, however, there might have been more of it had the library's $1 books room not been right next to the author area. Made our prices a tough sell...even with candy.

 

SEP
23

Choose my Table

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I'm getting ready for an author fair next week. I love author fairs. Book events of any kind, really. It's nice to be reminded you're an author, especially when just a lowly one like me. Because sometimes I forget. Sometimes I feel discouraged and wonder why I do it. But an author event can bring me back to myself...my writerly self.

The question at any author fair is, of course, how to get people to buy your books. Selling books is hard. People can't just look at a book like they can jewelry or artwork and know they will like it. And people aren't as free with their money as they used to be. An author fair attendee peruses everything and oftentimes buys only one book. One book. So how do you make sure yours is the book they buy? Just make sure yours is the most interesting book. Right? Possibly out of your control, but even if it weren't, before a person can even think your book is interesting, you've got to get them to approach your table. And there are *a lot* of tables at an author fair. Most of the time all lined up in a row or arranged in some other closely-spaced configuration.

I don't know what the magic formula is--something tells me it probably involves a low-cut top, a celebrity guest, and an expensive giveaway--but I may try out a few new things at next week's fair. (Much to my sister's disappointment, I will not, as she suggested, be hiring friends to hang around my table and act very interested, thus creating the illusion of mass intrigue and popularity. But that's really only because I can't afford it. And also because I don't have many friends yet...new in town, remember?) In any case, if you find yourself in Pasadena next weekend, I hope you'll choose my table. There will be candy. Which, come to think of it, is probably almost as good as a low-cut top.