Adding a few books to my shelf

So yes, we are now aware that GoodReads has been acquired by Amazon.  There seems to be mixed emotions about this throughout the social media circles that I’m in, and that’s normal when any change happens.  It’s a great website, and if you’re into books, then check it out.  In fact, check out my GoodReads page (see link at the bottom of this post).

I’ve been on a memoir quest this year, both writing one and reading many.  Actually, I have another memoir idea that I’m trying to formulate now concerning my paternal grandfather.  Born a twin on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Canada, as a young boy he was shipped off to the United States to live with his aunt and uncle.  The specifics of why this happened are vague.  I plan to go to Nova Scotia this summer to research my heritage and hopefully learn a little more about my family and myself.

elsewhere, richard russo, the shipping news, annie proulx, books, book suggestions, reading, amreading, Pulitzer Prize

Anyhow, I’ve been getting some nice support from friends and fellow artists about my writing process and suggestions on books to read.  These are the two newest additions to my list.  I will be reading Elsewhere by Richard Russo first, then will tackle The Shipping News by Annie Proulx next––two Pulitzer Prize winners that I probably wouldn’t have picked up on my own.

If anyone is curious what books I’ve been reading or what books are on my shelf, visit my GoodReads page (here).

Grants for Writers

Today I did not put pencil to pager or finger to keyboard.  However, I did do a little research about grants for writers. Besides the current memoir that I am working on, I have two to three other book projects that I’m thinking about.  Like I said in an earlier post, I’m not a fan of putting all of my eggs in one basket, I’d rather have a carton full of various eggs, preferably PAAS colored Easter Eggs that are tie-dyed and trippy like Jerry Garcia might’ve made them––kidding.

If you are a writer looking for grants, here is one website that I have been combing through.  It’s called Funds For Writers.

And here’s another called, Grant Space.

Now, I’ve only applied for one writing-related grant.  Grants take time to fill out.  Also make sure to check the deadlines.  Those are very important!

You’re welcome!

Learning to Deal with Rejection

banksy, follow your dreams cancelled, tag, graffiti, writing, rejection, So most of you know already that I’m trying to get book published.  The other day I got another rejection from yet another agency.  The crazy thing is, I’m totally aware of the process and have embraced it.  My wife on the other hand said, “why do you pick these types of careers to follow?”  When you are a creative-type like I am, this is part of it.  Before writing, I was a photographer––currently I own a photography gallery.  I dealt with rejections as an artist and have watched artists that I represent go through it as well.  I’m usually the one on the other side of the table commenting on artists portfolios.  Now the tables are turned.

So receiving rejections from these literary agencies is totally understandable. Without naming names, I am going to show you some of the responses that I’ve received over the past few months.  Writers who are trying to get published: get used to this.  You’ll get a lot of these.  Embrace it and move on.  This is the only way you’ll stay sane.  I took this photograph a while back of Banksy’s ‘Follow Your Dreams-Cancelled‘. Don’t listen to him.  Follow your dreams to the end.

Food for thought:  J.K. Rowling was rejected 12 times before finding a publisher for Harry Potter and Stephen King received 30 rejection letters for his book Carrie.  One day someone will come along that will want to work with you and then you’ll freak the fuck out!

enjoy!

Dear Jason,
It’s my belief that an agent needs to make a strong emotional connection to any memoir she takes on in case the submission process turns out to be long and difficult, and she has to hang in there with it. Unfortunately, I didn’t make that connection here, and so, have decided to pass. I’m sorry not to be writing with better news and wish you the best of luck elsewhere.

Dear Author,
Thank you very much for giving us a chance to consider your work. Unfortunately, your project is not right for us at this time. Publishing is a matter of taste, however, and another agent may feel differently—we encourage you to keep looking for an enthusiastic editor or agent. We wish you the very best of luck with your work.

Dear Jason,
Thank you very much for your query. I’m afraid I’m not going to be the ideal agent for this and I’m going to pass. Good luck.

Dear Mr. Landry,
Thank you for your query. After consideration we have decided not to pursue this project, as it doesn’t seem quite right for us. As you know, this is a highly subjective business, and other agents are sure to feel differently. We wish you all the best in your search and hope your book finds a good home soon.

Dear Jason,
Thank you for thinking of me for your book project.  Unfortunately, I don’t feel this project is quite right for me and have decided not to pursue.  Please know that this business is highly subjective, and that what doesn’t work for one agent may work perfectly for another. I hope you will continue to search for a home for your manuscript. I wish you the best of luck as you move forward with your writing career.

Dear Author,
I regret that I am unable to answer your query with a personal note—please know that I read each and every letter in my inbox. At this time, I am only responding personally to projects which I intend to pursue. I’m afraid that in this instance, I did not have the enthusiasm necessary to request pages. I apologize for the frustratingly subjective nature of this business and I do wish you all the best of luck finding the right agent for your work.

Dear Jason,
Thank you for sending this through to us. We wanted to let you know that we greatly appreciated having the opportunity to review your work, but are sorry to say that we do not feel able to offer you representation.

Sometimes we must pass on books, even very good books that we feel are either out of our range or would require an amount of attention we cannot provide at this time.  In addition, we can’t afford to take on projects that we’re not absolutely confident we can sell.  But we very much hope that you will find an agent with the right enthusiasm for your work.

Many thanks again for considering our agency, and we wish you the best of luck with your writing.

11 Good Quotes for Writers

quote, fortune cookie, literary, writing, trees, writer, grub street, quotesAre you writing a memoir or a non-fiction book project?  I went back over my notes from last weekend’s AWP Writing Conference in Boston.  Here are some great quotes that I wrote down from two separate sessions: The Art of the Non-Fiction Idea and The Urge Toward Memoir.

Since I’m learning just as much as the next person, I was too busy feverishly writing notes to remember who actually said these great one-liners.  If you know who said it, feel free to send me a note.  Wouldn’t some of these quotes look good inside fortune cookies?  This images is from a fortune cookie that I was given at the Grub Street booth.  You guys rock!

Here’s 11 Good Quotes for Writers to Think About.

“Date around before you marry an idea.”

“Will your idea pass the cocktail party test?”

“You need to be able to sell your idea in two minutes.”

“Tell the stories that only you can tell.” ~ Ethan Gilsdorf

“Test out your ideas in short form first.”

“Build up your authority in your niche.”

“Virality = will your writing piece circulate and go viral online?”

“Your project is a balance between you and your voice and the topic.”

“You have to have control of your story just like your novel.  Your readers are dying to know what’s next.”

“All of life is a cover story.”

“Your family will not see things from your point of view.”

Writing: Finding That New Outlet To Plug In To

jason landry, portrait, photographer, paris, artistWriting: Finding That New Outlet To Plug In To

Once upon a time I was a photographer.  I would photograph people, places and things.  I would go on trips all around the world making photographs and that was my artistic outlet.  Before that, it was drawing and playing the guitar.  I enjoyed drawing and sketching things and I also liked strumming along to my favorite tunes.  Now that I own a gallery, I’m not sketching, playing the guitar or photographing as much anymore.  I needed to find a new artistic outlet––something that would give me an opportunity to express myself.

Writing and reading were never two of my favorite things.  If you gave me a choice between reading a book, writing a story, listening to music or going out to eat, I would opt for the two latter.  I’m not sure what happened, other than to say that writing and reading have become my two new favorite artistic outlets and they have opened me up to a world of possibilities.  I’ve regained a new appreciation for the art of writing and have embraced it wholeheartedly.

I was asked recently, are you a writer? My answer of course, Why yes…yes I am.  What do you like to write? (that’s usually the follow-up question.) My answer: everything.  Right now, I don’t want to pigeonhole myself in one genre of writing.  Although I am writing a memoir, I have found writing poetry and short fiction equally as enjoyable.  I also have a few ideas on how I can incorporate some writing with a photographic project that I’ve been kicking around in my head.

When investing in a new art form, diversify your portfolio.  If it’s writing, you never know what will be on the next page until you turn it.

World Book Day: Read Some Memoirs!

jenny lawson, let's pretend this never happened, author, book, world book day, memoir, taxidermyToday is World Book Day.  Mostly geared toward children and young adults, I don’t see why it can’t be geared toward everyone.  Everyone should know how to read, right?  I used to hate reading.  I always had a list of better things to do with my time.  Later in life I learned that relaxing with a good book is a good way to spend my time.

Since I’m writing a memoir, I’ve been reading a lot of memoirs.  I’d like to share with you a few books that I thought were particularly interesting.  My selections are all over the map: business, cooking, comedy, music, movies––because when you are trying to write a memoir, you need to get various points of view.  By reading, you learn new ways to say what you want to say.  I’m not looking for big words…I’m looking for the right words.  The right words take time and come when you least expect them––when you’re out walking, running, grocery shopping or even on the toilet.

My wife isn’t going to let me go back to college to earn any more degrees, so my MFA in Creative Writing is going to come from the books that I buy on a weekly basis from all of my favorite bookstore haunts, and a few workshops through Grub Street.

Here is a list of my:
Top 8 Memoirs to Read if you’re Trying to Write a Memoir.

1.)  Patti Smith, Just Kids
2.)  Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidential  — Twitter @bourdain
3.)  Jenny Lawson, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. — Twitter @TheBloggess
4.)  Tina Fey, Bossypants
5.)  Kevin Smith, Tough Shit — Twitter @ThatKevinSmith
6.)  Nikki Sixx, This Is Gonna Hurt — Twitter @NikkiSixx
7.)  David Sedaris, Me talk Pretty Someday
8.)  Mitch Albom, Tuesday’s with Morrie — Twitter @MitchAlbom

Oh yeah.  You can follow me on Twitter too if you feel so inclined. Twitter @Lanrod

 

What kind of book are you writing?

“Jason, what kind of book are you writing?”
“It’s a creative non-fiction memoir made up of essays, autobiographical stories and interviews all around the topic of photography.”
“It sounds like you’re writing a memoir.”
“That’s what I think too, but…”
“But what?  What is holding you back from saying ‘memoir’?  What are you afraid of?”
“I don’t know.”
“You’re writing a memoir.  Just tell yourself that from now on and own it!”

That’s the advice that I got recently.  It’s sound advice and I felt good about it…that is, until I actually let people know I was writing a memoir.

I have had a few people tell me, “You’re too young to be writing a memoir.”  And this is one reason why I opted not to tell anyone that I was even writing for quite a while – too many people have opinions.  Constructive feedback, great – single-minded shallow opinions – keep them to yourselves.

If you don’t like the word memoir, we can call it something else then, say, a creative non-fiction book broken down into episodic tales.  This book will feel and sound like a memoir, but, shhhh, it’s not a memoir.  How’s that?

Many of the memoirs that I have read in the past two years come from authors who are in their late 30’s and early 40’s – and I fall into that demographic.  Do you think that you have to be famous to write a memoir? No!

Artistic License gives us freedom.  Freedom to do what?  Let me come up with something and I’ll put it the book that I’m writing that’s disguised as a memoir.

You Won’t Have To Hold My Hair Back

I am feeling sick to my stomach.  No, I don’t have the flu, nor am I drunk.  You won’t have to hold my hair back while I pray to the porcelain god or feed me Pedialyte freeze pops until my electrolyte levels are back to normal.

It’s only my nerves acting up because I just sent my manuscript to an editor to read for the very first time.  I guess this is what it feels like when you send your kid off to school for the first time.  I do not have any kids, so it’s only a guess.  I never had this feeling when I use to send slides and CD’s to galleries to look at my photography.  The writing world seems foreign to me…it’s like starting over, in a way.  I have to network with a different demographic of friends, peers and mentors.  I know hundreds of people in the photography world, but in the writing and literary world, I can count who I know personally on just my two hands.  I have a lot of work to do.

But this is my quest and it’s part of the process.  I have a lot more ideas and more essays to write.  There were 65,500 words in the manuscript to my memoir that I sent out today.  I am in awe when I look back and see what I’ve accomplished.