Monday, August 29, 2016

Happy Pub Day!

This Wednesday is the pub day for Dean A. Haycock's new book, CHARACTERS ON THE COUCH: EXPLORING PSYCHOLOGY THROUGH LITERATURE AND FILM!  I'm so excited to introduce you all to the book with Dean's interview below...enjoy and be sure to pick up a copy of the book on the 31st!

For everyone who doesn't know, tell us a little bit about yourself and what led you to start writing.

I'm a science and medical writer who believes the subjects he writes about are much more interesting than he is. My goal is to make interesting scientific material easier to understand without oversimplifying or misrepresenting it. When I graduated from college, I wrote for two weeks straight. When I evaluated what I'd written, I found only one good paragraph. I put aside the idea of making a living writing and took other jobs, like many writers have. In my case, I was an animal care technician, a laboratory technician, a graduate student/teaching assistant, a post-doctoral fellow and a research scientist. But I kept writing. When a pharmaceutical company I worked for wanted me to move out of state to a city and away from my country home, I choose to quit and finally try writing full time once again.

What lead to the concept of this book?

In my previous book, Murderous Minds, I explored the criminal psychopathic mind and brain. I explained how scientists are investigating people who lack empathy, emotional depth and a conscience. I explained how and what we know about the biological origins of this fascinating type of person. All of the subjects discussed in that book are real, both the scientists and the psychopathic prisoners they studied. During my research, I became interested in how psychopathy was portrayed, both accurately and inaccurately, in novels and in movies. That was the start of my next book, Characters on the Couch, Exploring Psychology Through Literature and Film. I expanded the subject material to include many different types of mental disorders as well as characters with positive psychological traits and strengths.

What was it like writing and researching this book?  Did you come upon anything unexpected that surprised you?

I was surprised to learn how often medical schools, as well as psychiatric and psychological training programs, use fictional characters to help train future psychiatrists and psychologists, to teach them about the features of mental disorders. For example, scholarly journal articles discuss the features of mental disorders in Star Wars characters and several have explored the evolution of psychopathic characters in the history of film. It was a confirmation that the topics in Characters on the Cough were worth writing about.
My second surprise was due to my naivete. I underestimated how much work it would be to discuss 101 different literary and film characters and their psychological traits or illnesses. It was much harder than I thought it would be. I'm sure my blood pressure went up as my final deadline approached but I am very happy with the final result.
This was offset by how much fun it was to read so many novels, novellas, short stories and poems, and to watch so many movies, while researching the book.
How was working on this book different from your previous book, MURDEROUS MINDS?
Although I seriously considered majoring in American literature in college, I ended up studying biology and then neuroscience. For most of my writing career, I have read nonfiction books. Taking the time to get back to reading lots of fiction for this book was one of the most enjoyable aspects of the last year and a half.

What do you hope readers take away from CHARACTERS ON THE COUCH?

Besides hoping the book increases readers' enjoyment and understanding of the fictional characters they encounter, I hope it encourages them to think more about the psychology behind the behavior of both fictional and real people. Anything we can do to increase understanding of mental health will hopefully help reduce prejudice against mental illness.

Anything that other nonfiction writers can learn from your experiences?

It’s obvious but always worth saying: as much as you possibly can, write about topics that fascinate you. And carefully evaluate the time and effort a new project will require.
What's a fun fact about yourself?

I was once stopped on a back road in Bulgaria by two communist soldiers carrying machine guns while somewhere nearby, a public address system blared at maximum volume Tom Jones singing "Daughter of Darkness." As I listened to the music and looked at the machine guns, I was simultaneously struck by the knowledge of what the automatic weapons could do to me and the surreal soundtrack playing during the interrogation.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Query Critique

In the all the excitement of deals, new clients, and cats, I completely forgot about this month's query critique!  Sorry!!!  Here it is now, and because I'm posting a week late, results will be posted in two weeks instead of three!  For everyone who enters (and those who don't) spread the word so that even if you don't submit a query, you encourage others to read and comment.  Thanks :)

If you're not familiar with how to enter, take a look at my previous post to read the rules.  Good luck!  And don't forget to post any questions you want me to answer in the comments section with the hashtag #IHAVEAQUESTION!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Cats & Deals

I should start off this blog by first saying that I am over the moon about a new deal that I hinted at last week.  Alana Delacroix's Shifting Love paranormal romance trilogy is going to be published at Kensingston Lyrical and I'm sooooo psyched!!!!  It's an amazing book that reads like a thriller, with an investigative journalist who has retired from the reporting life after a vicious attack and now works at a PR firm, where a new client inadvertently brings her back into contact with the criminal who attacked her...she just happens to be a half shifter and her client is the sexy shifter king of North America.  Go, Alana!!

I also signed the wonderful Rie Neal, whose MG book, THE FIRST MARTIAN, is about the first boy born on the Mars Research Dome and what happens when a reality TV show crew and a shuttle filled with new inhabitants for the dome--including a girl his age--arrive on the planet.

And in other news...cats!!!  I am the proud momma of two adorable little kittens, Ivan and Nori, who are Egyptian Mau mixes.  They are so cute!  Ivan is very exuberant and a little nuts and Nori is a bit of a scaredy cat who loves finding small cuddly spaces.  The rest of this post is just going to be cat pictures so you can all start your week off with lovable fluffiness   Also, we made them an awesome cat tent that we found from a DIY post online if anyone wants to make their tiny pet a new home!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Exciting News

So here is all my exciting news (in list form!)

1. Deal! Lauren Smith's dragon shifter trilogy is finding its home with Lizzie Poteet at SMP Swerve and I couldn't be happier! 🐉

2. Almost Deal!  I have another three-book deal in the works that I'm hoping to finalize this week.  I'm on fire with paranormal romance lately 😀

3. New author!  Remember that sad list I have of authors I really, really loved but didn't get?  Well, I get to scratch one of them off the list, because I signed the amazing LZ Marie, whose historical fiction about Nero's poisoner I read a couple years ago.  Soooo thrilled she is now mine!!!

4. I got to see Late Night!  I won tickets to see Late Night With Seth Meyers last Wednesday and it was awesome :)  Allllmost makes up for the fact that I have yet to win tickets to Shakespeare in the Park or Hamilton.  

Monday, August 1, 2016

Angry Post

The last time I did an angry post was a couple years ago, and I felt really weird about it.  I'm not an angry person by nature and I also always second-guess anything I think about writing or saying that is negative on my public/professional platforms.  But after reading this article that I came upon in the Twittersphere, I knew that this was going to be my blog topic this week.  It is by an intern who shares a very mean post by a misogynistic man, who insults two agents he thinks did not give him his due at a conference. 

Besides just making me mad, it sort of reaffirmed the reason that I started this blog: a lot of people (and not just frustrated writers) have no idea what it means to be a literary agent.  We have second jobs; we go through submissions processes with editors that are similar to how writers query; our work as agents involve more than just reading all day; we have good days and bad days; we are people, not gatekeepers.

Quickly looking through David Benjamin's post, and omitting corrections for the baselessly rude things he says (because my refutes for those would just be, "What the hell is wrong with you, dude?"), here are some things he and a commenter called Anonymous Friend, whose comments are in the screenshot above, gets wrong about literary agents: 

What David Benjamin Says
The Truth
Agents are forced by their agencies to go to conferences.
We are invited to conferences and choose which ones to attend.  There is no conference quota, which you can see by noticing that not all agents attend x number of conferences every year.  Sometimes I go to ten a year; sometimes I go to five.
They hate to read and they hate writing conferences.
The truth here should be obvious.  If we weren’t insanely passionate about reading and working with writers, we would all be jumping off buildings, because 80% OF WHAT WE DO is read and talk to authors.
Agents reject authors on “pretexts.”
I do admit, having an author sit down in front of you or write a query that tells you that they’ve written 97 books and want you to work on them all is daunting.  Because, you know, that is a lot of words.  But the idea that we don’t reject for real reasons, even if that reason is just that our list is so full that we can’t take on your superbly written work, is stupid.  I’m not going to turn down the most amazing thing I’ve ever read if because I’d rather go home and watch TV.  I want a successful career as much as you do.
Agents are MFA rejects who get into agenting to make money.
Agents have to have some experience in the industry before they become agents, whether that is interning or working in another area of the business, so ABSOLUTELY NONE OF US are under the illusion that working in publishing is going to make us rich.  It will maybe help us rent a cute condo in Hoboken, but that’s about it.
Agents think they are gatekeepers, but they let things like 50 SHADES OF GRAY through.
On this one, I can’t speak for all agents, but I hate the use of the term “gatekeeper.”  For one thing, I’m not deciding who gets to sit next to Shakespeare.  And also, we are looking for trendsetters as well as passion projects.
We take things out on writers because we are fragile, raw, and bitter and also lack business ethics.
NO!!  I do sometimes get into bad moods, like a human, but when that happens, I take it out on ice cream or on my dirty apartment.  I don’t make myself feel better by going through my submissions folder and cackling.  The business ethic thing is bullshit.  If we were unethical, we’d bring back reading fees and take 50% commission.

Okay, that's my diatribe for the year.  Next week will be exciting news!