At any writers’ conference you’ll hear about how important a captivating book proposal is for wooing agents. But there’s one proposal section that’s seldom discussed and little understood—yet which warrants more attention if you want to succeed. That’s the section listing “comps” for your book. The name alone invites confusion. Ask three agents what it means and you could get as many responses. Competitive books, one might say, while the others suggest comparative or complementary titles. And, . . .
I’m a sucker for debut novelists, so if I could break away from my desk midday, I would hustle over to Holy Grounds Coffee, located inside St. David’s Episcopal Church, to hear from Mary Helen Specht, author of Migratory Animals. The moving, if melancholy, story grapples with notions of home, family and belonging. See event details here. Christina Soontornvat, author of The Changelings (Sept. 10 at 3 pm at BookPeople Local author Christina Soontornvat is a generous . . .
June is a big month in this literary town. Austin’s African American Book Festival celebrates its 10th anniversary on the 25th. Swing by the Carver Museum and Library (1161 and 1165 Angelina St, 78702) between 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. to take part in the program, which promotes literature by and about African Americans. The festival features young adult author Sharon Flake and also provides a platform for new, emerging and self-published authors to pitch and sell their work. I produced a short . . .
This month, I’m giving away 8 new and notable novels, inspired by the Austin Public Library’s New Fiction Confab: . . .
Please join me on Saturday, April 23, 2016 at the John Henry Faulk Central Library, 800 Guadalupe St., Austin, TX for the New Fiction Confab. This exciting event features several of the most notable authors who published new work in 2015 and 2016. They’ll lead writing workshops, read their work, and engage in conversations in Austin libraries. Don’t miss this chance to discuss contemporary fiction with the authors shaping America’s literary landscape! . . .
Tara Mohr is on a mission to help women speak up and influence the world for the better. She says her lifelong calling is ”to recognize where women’s voices are missing and do what I can, in my corner of the world, to help bring them in.” As a child, Mohr advocated for an English curriculum that featured more women authors and female protagonists. Today, she’s running a global leadership program and sharing its central tenets with a wider audience through her book, “Playing Big.” . . .
Gail Godwin’s “Publishing: A Writer’s Memoir” is a graceful meditation on the author’s years aspiring to publication and her subsequent decades navigating an increasingly cutthroat, capricious industry. Wisdom, perseverance and faith lurk amid the lines of her spare, droll writing, making this an understated yet inspiring read. Godwin exemplifies a keep-on-keeping-on ethos in sharp contrast to writers like Harper Lee, whose concerns about topping past popularity prevented her from continuing . . .
Hocus pocus title aside, “Big Magic” serves up delightfully grounded advice on mustering up the courage and sanity to live creatively. That is, by Gilbert’s definition, to live a life informed by curiosity, not fear or shame. The occult does make an appearance in the book, but it’s largely confined to one section in which Gilbert sets forth some quirky beliefs about creativity and its “not entirely human” origins. She sees ideas as sentient, energetic life forms that “magically collaborate” . . .
Danielle Evans’s collection of short stories recasts young-adult angst as heartrending drama, with smart, intriguing characters navigating the unexpectedly treacherous terrain of friendship, sex and family. Each of its eight stories is powerful in its economy, perfectly tuned domestic tensions, and well-drawn diverse characters. A teen avoids her lunch lady mom, embarrassed by the hairnet cutting a line in her broad, sweaty forehead. A grandmother’s cruel rejection pushes a nine-year-old to . . .
“Into the Go-Slow” is an ambitious novel that attempts to tell the very personal story of a young woman grieving her sister while also exploring larger themes of “how to be black in the world.” Set in 1987, it maps Angie Mackenzie’s fraught journey to retrace her deceased sister Ella’s steps from Detroit to Lagos, and bring a sense of closure to her mourning. Since Ella’s death, Angie had been stuck--unable to forge her own identity. She’s lived instead “as a kind of caretaker to the . . .