Thursday, January 31, 2013

THE LAST NUDE wins 2013 Stonewall Book Award!

Congratulations to Ellis Avery and her novel THE LAST NUDE for winning a 2013 Stonewall Book Award! THE LAST NUDE received this year's award for fiction, the Barbara Gittings Literature Award.

The Stonewall Book Awards were announced this week at the American Library Association's Midwinter Meeting in Seattle, Washington. Sponsored by the ALA's Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table, the Stonewall Book Awards honor titles of “exceptional merit relating to the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender experience.” The award tradition began in 1971, when the honor was merely a grassroots acknowledgement, called the Gay Book Award, presented to one book a year. Now, a Stonewall Book Award is presented to a work of literature, nonfiction, and children's/young adult literature every year, with honor books also chosen for each category. You can learn more about the history of the award on the ALA website here, and view the other 2013 winners here.

As a Stonewall Book Award recipient, Avery will receive a cash stipend and commemorative plaque, which will be presented to her at the ALA's Annual Conference this summer.

THE LAST NUDE was published by Riverhead in January 2012. Based on a true story, the novel chronicles the life of Rafaela Fano, a young American demimondaine who comes to Paris to escape an arranged marriage. When she meets Art Deco painter Tamara de Lempicka, Tamara encourages Rafaela to model for her and Rafaela agrees. And so begins a relationship that spawned some of the Jazz Age's most iconic paintings (which you can view in our previous post here). In her novel, Avery weaves historical details into a “dark, sexy romp” (Kirkus), an “evocative, heart-cutting” story (Library Journal) of passion, sexual obsession, treachery, and tragedy. 

THE LAST NUDE received praise from More Magazine, O Magazine, Library Journal (starred review), Booklist (starred review), Kirkus, SF Weekly, and many more. A review from The Arts Fuse, which was picked up by The New York Sun, noted, “This contemplation of art, and its believable transformation into character, makes THE LAST NUDE the delight that it is. Avery takes what little is known about the historical Rafaela and turns her into a flesh-and-blood woman who at times is more dimensional than the artificial creature into which Tamara has styled herself.” View a round-up of some of THE LAST NUDE's wonderful reviews in our previous post here.

THE LAST NUDE was also recently named to the 2013 Over the Rainbow Project Book List (sponsored by the ALA's GLBT Round Table). While 84 titles comprise the list, THE LAST NUDE is included among the round table's Top Ten Favorites!

You can learn more about THE LAST NUDE on Avery's website here or in our previous posts here.

Ellis Avery

Friday, January 25, 2013

Gun control and mental health policies: Lucinda Roy's perspective

With the inauguration just over and gun control and mental health policies still on everyone's mind, there is no better time to look to Lucinda Roy and her book NO RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT.

Roy is a creative writing and literature professor at Virginia Tech. She tried to seek help for Seung-Hui Cho prior to his rampage shooting in 2007 that resulted in the deaths of 32 students and faculty members. After the shooting, she wrote NO RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT: What We've Learned from the Tragedy at Virginia Tech (Three Rivers Press, 2010). The book discusses what America and higher education institutions can learn from the shooting, and how we might be able to prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future.

In the wake of the shootings in Tucson, Arizona, in 2011; Aurora, Colorado, this past summer; and, most recently, Newtown, Connecticut; Roy has shared her unique insight on gun violence and how we as a country can respond. Below, we present a round-up of her articles and interviews:

Earlier this week, ABC News interviewed Roy regarding gun control and mental health as part of their Up Close series with Diana Williams. In the interview, Roy explains her experience trying to get mental health help for Seung-Hui Cho and why she has not been surprised that shootings have continued occurring since the 2007 tragedy. You can view the video below:

Soon after the Newtown shooting, Roy wrote an article in USA Today about how not be cowed into assuming that intervention is futile. She offers concrete measures America ought to take to prevent shootings from occurring, including tackling gun control, creating a national oversight group to respond to shootings, and each of us making individual efforts to speak to friends, students, family members, children, etc. about their happiness. Read more here.

Roy also wrote an article for The Guardian in response to Newtown. Here, she discusses the role guns play in American culture and why gun control is so contentious today.

The Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel compiled a series of videos on mental illness after Newtown, which are available at this link. Below, you can view Roy's video, in which she speaks on the importance of listening to individuals who may warrant concern and knowing when to seek help.

After the shooting in Aurora, Colorado, in which James Holmes opened fire on a movie theater screening The Dark Knight Rises, Roy wrote an article for USA Today about the possible connections between violence in media and violent shootings. She also discusses how The Dark Knight “made sadism seductive.” Read it here.

In response to the shooting in Tucson, Arizona, in which Jared Lee Loughner killed six people and wounded thirteen others, including then-Representative Gabrielle Giffords, Roy wrote an article for The Chronicle of Higher Education. In it, she analyzes the response of Pima Community College, which suspended Loughner several months prior to the shooting. Read the article here.

For more information on Lucinda Roy and NO RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT, you can visit the publisher's page here, or Roy's website here.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

2012's "Top Ten"s and "Best Of"s

At the end of each year, book reviewers go gaga over list-making, selecting books published over the course of the past year that they consider "Top 10" and "Best Of" reads.  This year, six of JVNLA's books have been named to lists put together by the Los Angeles Times, Daily Candy, Kirkus, The Boston Globe, Pop Sugar, and more!  We are excited to announce these books, lauded as having made a lasting impression on 2012, below:


In the introduction to their Top Ten List of Best Young Adult Books of 2012, The Boston Globe wrote, “We find that the stories and characters in YA literature are as compelling (sometimes more so) than novels written for our own demographic.” Among this new generation of YA novels, loved by teens, loved by adults, Emily M. Danforth's THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST stands out. The Boston Globe included it in their top ten list and also called the novel “evocative and stunningly written," praising it as “a coming-of-age story" for anyone who "has felt like an outsider or stopped and started her way toward an authentic self."

CAMERON POST was also named to School Library Journal's Best Fiction Books of 2012 and Kirkus's Best Teen Books of 2012. It cleaned up at Booklist, making their list for Editors' Choice: Books for Youth for 2012, Top 10 First Novels for Youth for 2012, and Top 10 Religion and Spirituality Books for Youth for 2012. The Huffington Post also named it to their list of Top Ten Young Adult Books of 2012, noting that the heroine will get “under your skin (in a good way) and stay with you long after you finish the book."

Each year, gives out Visibility Awards “to honor the best lesbian and bi people, characters, events and moments of the year.” They polled their fan base to pick among top nominees in various categories (over 750,000 votes were cast) and also named a staff pick for each category. For Best Book of the Year, fans as well as staff chose THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST! The staff commented, "Danforth's story is heartbreaking and healing in equal measure."

Speaking of awards, CAMERON POST was also named a finalist for the William C. Morris Debut Award.  This award is given annually by YALSA (the Young Adult Library Services Association) to honor “impressive new voices in young adult literature." In a recent post, The Hub, the blog connecting YALSA to their online teen readers, spoke to some of the likely reasons CAMERON POST was named a finalist, calling it a novel to be “savored,” “a book of lasting images,” “heartbreaking yet hopeful.” The winner of the William C. Morris Debut Award will be announced on January 28, so keep your fingers crossed for CAMERON POST!

THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST was released in February 2012 by Balzer+Bray.

WE ONLY KNOW SO MUCH by Elizabeth Crane

Daily Candy created a list of Can't-Miss Books of the Year, which featured Elizabeth Crane's WE ONLY KNOW SO MUCH. The website that is all about “fashion, food, and fun” calls the book a “darkly comic gift” that made the editors “cringe-laugh the whole way through.”

Harper Perennial published WE ONLY KNOW SO MUCH in June 2012.

DARK LIE by Nancy Springer

Over at The Crime Fiction Collective, reviewer Marlyn Beebe created a Favorite Mysteries of 2012 list.  The collective is comprised of reviewers, editors, and authors who release essays, reviews, and updates on thriller fiction and digital publishing.  Included among Marlyn's favorites was Nancy Springer's DARK LIE. In Marlyn's review of DARK LIE on her own blog, Stuff and Nonsense, she wrote, DARK LIE “is a gripping story that draws the reader in and doesn't let go until the final page."

DARK LIE was released from NAL (New American Library) in November 2012.

ON POLITICS by Alan Ryan

In Los Angeles Times book critic David L. Ulin's introduction to 2012's best titles of the year, Ulin wrote that 2012 marked a return to books “that both portray and reflect upon the spirit of their moment, telling not just a story but using it to illustrate something about the world in which we live.” Ulin also notes that this type of writing has been missing since the 1960s. Fortunately for all of us, we are witness to the second coming of "writing that takes the measure of the moment."  One such book named to Ulin's top ten books of 2012 is Alan Ryan's two-volume compendium of political thought, ON POLITICS.

ON POLITICS also made Kirkus's list of Best Nonfiction Books of 2012. Kirkus gave ON POLITICS a starred review, calling it "provocative, illuminating, and entertaining—an exemplary work of philosophy and history."

The Daily Beast highlighted ON POLITICS in their end-of-the-year Best Books of 2012 Holiday Gift Guide, noting that it may be the perfect gift for "your aunt or uncle who's a college professor."

ON POLITICS came out in October 2012 from Liveright.

PASSION BLUE by Victoria Strauss

In October, Kirkus gave PASSION BLUE by Victoria Strauss a rave starred review and selected it as an Editor's Pick for Fall 2012.  Naturally, at the end of the year, Kirkus named the book to its list of Best Teen Books of 2012.  Among other praises the review magazine heaped upon the novel and its main character's "achingly real search for her heart's desire," Kirkus called PASSION BLUE "a rare, rewarding, sumptuous exploration of artistic passion."

PASSION BLUE was published by Amazon Children's Publishing in November 2012.

THE LAST NUDE by Ellis Avery

Last year, in our blog post round-up of titles featured on "Top 10" and "Best Of" lists for 2011, we noted that THE LAST NUDE had been included in Library Journal's 2011 list of Top 25 Books to Read in 2012. Since then, THE LAST NUDE has received dazzling praise--from More Magazine's statement that "Avery's prose sings" to O Magazine's declaration "We've been loving this tough-but-vulnerable heroine," and from Kirkus praising the book as a "dark, sexy romp" to a starred Booklist review calling it "glittering, luminescent...riveting."  Fittingly, THE LAST NUDE was included in entertainment and style website Pop Sugar's Favorite Books of 2012 / Must Read List of 2012.

THE LAST NUDE appeared from Riverhead in January 2012.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

5 industry insights for nonfiction writers: From flying money-makers to mountains of book success

Ever wonder what exactly happens to your proposal once your agent sends it on submission?  The answer is it gets shared around, A LOT.  If your proposal manages to intrigue an editor, he or she will likely show it to their colleagues for their opinions, and if those opinions are positive your project will get brought up at an editorial board meeting, and from there the proposal might be shared with Sales and Marketing—the list goes on.

With so many eyes scrutinizing one document, it's helpful to understand who is looking for what information within your proposal.  Make sure you're creating a proposal that will satisfy everyone by keeping these five industry insights in mind.

#1: A proposal is a sales document. We book lovers can be a sentimental lot. It’s not our fault—we’ve experienced firsthand the extraordinary magic a great book contains. Our favorite reads hold value far beyond the $25 or $14 we shell out at a bookstore. However, when it comes to crafting your own proposal, it’s important to remember that you’re now entering the business of publishing (shudder!). Your brilliant ideas and dazzling prose won’t get you a book deal unless your proposal convinces a publisher that your book will make them money. To do this, treat your proposal as though it is an argument for why a publisher can’t afford NOT to take you on.

Image courtesy of digitalart at
"You simply can't NOT take me on, 
because clearly I will make you tons of money!"

#2: Platform is king. New writers occasionally misunderstand the importance of “platform” by treating it with a chicken or the egg mentality. Rather than seeing a strong platform as a necessary element to securing a book deal, they believe that securing a book deal is a necessary element to building their platform. Sadly, it’s rare for a publisher to take a chance on an unknown writer these days. With the exception of some memoirs, nonfiction publishers aren’t interested in breaking out new voices. Instead, they want to acquire books from authors who have a built in audience already eager to buy their work. Try to connect with your target audience and build a strong following before you approach a publisher. Being recognized as an expert in your field is half the battle.

Image courtesy of Dumbledorefan on Harry Potter Wiki
"Oh, don't worry, I have the ultimate platform."

#3: Even in a digital world, shelving matters. Know thy genre! If a publisher doesn’t understand where to shelve your book, or can’t identify similar books that have performed well, they likely won’t be making you an offer. Ask yourself, is my book narrative nonfiction or prescriptive nonfiction? What kind of information is my target audience seeking? This is part of what makes the comps section of your proposal so important. Choose successful books with strong sales records against which to compare your own. Create the impression that while your book is unique, and likely to outperform the others, there is a demonstrated track record of success for publishing this type of book.

Image courtesy of Noel Joyeux on
"I think I'd like to be shelved right here."

#4: For proposal perfection, find an irresistible title. Occasionally a proposal has a title that is so good, so catchy, it almost sells itself. Or, if it doesn’t sell itself, it definitely gives the project some heat. Perhaps it speaks directly to its audience and strikes a chord, such as YOU: On a Diet. Or it intrigues, such as The Secret. It might convey humor or edginess or simply trigger a smile. Whatever the reason, publishers know that a good title will capture public attention and distinguish your book from its competition. A strong title creates buzz. Before you submit your proposal, brainstorm several different titles to see if you strike phrasing gold. Consider some of the well‐known titles below:

Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant
The Shock Doctrine
Sh*t My Dad Says
My Horizontal Life
Skinny Bitch
Who Moved My Cheese?
Assassination Vacation
Julie and Julia
He’s Just Not That Into You
What’s the Matter with Kansas?
Eat, Pray, Love

Image courtesy of Micahmedia at en.wikipedia
"Can't I just use a symbol, à la Prince?" Answer: No.

#5: Editors also face rejection. So you’ve perfected your proposal, wooed a smart and savvy agent, and your work is now in the hands of a brilliant editor. All you need to do is have that editor fall in love with your work and you’re in, right? Not just yet! Most editors won’t be able to acquire a book without convincing the rest of their team to get onboard. First, they will “get reads,” or second opinions, from other editors at their imprint. If they are successful in drumming up enthusiasm in‐house, the project must then be approved by Sales and Marketing. This is often when heartbreak strikes. If Sales and Marketing crunches the numbers and doesn’t feel your book will be profitable, your deal may be dead in the water. Help an editor out by including strong comp titles and a savvy promotion plan.

Image courtesy of watcharakun at
Turn upset editors unable to take on your project 
("Say it isn't so!") into....

Image courtesy of pakorn at
mountains of book success!