News & Our September Writing Retreat with Suzanne Kingsbury

•July 24, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Hi All, On this post-thunderstorm Vermont morning as my sunflowers are just starting to bloom, I wanted to thank you all for your support this year! DCDesign continues to make beautiful books (our recent Jane Mead design is an award winner) and publicize fabulous authors, like Tim Weed’s new book, Will Poole’s Island, which was featured at the Nantucket Book Festival, and Tim will also be reading at the Burlington Book Festival and the Brattleboro Literary Festival, and one of our literary agency authors, Shannon Galpin‘s upcoming book, Mountain to Mountain, is the lead title for St. Martin’s Press this fall! Here is a blurb that just came in…. and you can see why we are so excited!

“Shannon Galpin’s lovely cycling saga is an inspiring and illuminating window into the lives of modern day Afghan women and their continuing struggle to ride their own path to freedom, recognition, and equality.” —Khaled Hosseini, New York Times bestselling author of The Kite Runner and And The Mountains Echoed

Green Writers Press has moved into the world with sold-out books (The Bodies of Mothers, Lasting Words), foreign sales (our upcoming Spring, 2015 title, The Widow & The Hijacker, is already getting interest, and we are in negotiations with German and French publishers for The Bodies of Mothers!), one of our place-based novels, That Year in Boston, is being repped by a film agent, and now a new magazine!  ~ Take a look at our fall catalog here . . . We are changing the world one page at a time, and you, my friends and colleagues, have been a huge part of it. ~~~~~~~

Pond House September Retreat, 2012. We gather around the 1900's fieldstone fireplace to write. The fire rages on the page and in the room.

Pond House September Retreat, 2012. We gather around the 1900’s fieldstone fireplace to write. The fire rages on the page and in the room.

SuzanneandDede

Book shaman, Suzanne Kingsbury & literary agent and publisher, Dede Cummings. Photo by Jeff Woodward at jeffwoodwardphotography.com

To celebrate, award-winning author and book shaman, Suzanne Kingsbury and I are running away to my family’s summer house on the coast of Rhode Island September 11th-14th to do a writing retreat. It’s our third one at the Pond House, and I wanted you to know that you are invited! These retreats are spread only by word of mouth and word has slipped out, and there are now only two (two!) spaces left.  So, if you are feeling the call to run away with your writing, this is the time. These retreats shift your work exponentially, spur on book deals and allow you to fall in love with the page again. At retreat, we cozy up in front of the fire or on the wrap-around porch to write in the Gateless method (a way of teaching writing that ceases activity in the critical mind). We feast on organic food, walk on the beach and read aloud, telling each another what is strong in the work, what works, what we love. Everything that might not be working simply falls away. It’s an extraordinary four days. Because all retreats are spread by word-of-mouth, they tend to fill very quickly. So if you would like to join us or if you know someone who might, let us know soon… Below you will find words from past retreat participants to let you know what the experience holds. Rates are very reasonable and include everything but the vehicle to get you there. Email me as soon as you can if you are hearing a yes. I’d love to write with you. (dcdesignteamvt@gmail.com)

Here is our view from the terrace of the house. We have almost 900 feet of private waterfront, and a sweet little boathouse with a balcony over the water where you can meet with our writing shaman, Suzanne Kingsbury.

Here is our view from the terrace of the house. We have almost 900 feet of private waterfront, and a sweet little boathouse with a balcony over the water where you can meet with our writing shaman, Suzanne Kingsbury.

CatieRetreat has given me faith in my voice as a writer and so much more respect for the ability of my words to help people (I write mostly about yoga and coaching). To write in an open, non-competitive environment with other writers (now friends!) gave me the courage to try new things, and provided incredible feedback that gave me the confidence to push my work into channels I’d never have thought to try. I’ve been writing non-stop since I got back – I’ve have had three more pieces published and I’m outlining a book! (Something I never thought I’d do.) Suzanne and Dede continue to be amazing mentors and friends – this retreat was worth every penny and so, so, so much more!!! —Catie Webster, Bozeman, Montana, branding expert, yogi, writer and retreat participant     Maryretreatphoto

My first retreat piece wasn’t even a page long. Almost before I was done reading, Suzanne jumped out of her chair and ran around the room, dancing and squealing. She knew, right then, that the half a page I had written that day was my memoir-to-come. The memoir I built out of the seed story from that retreat just got picked up by one of the biggest agents in New York!Mary Okoye, Tucson, AZ, lobbyist, retreat participant

KateBI came into retreat feeling blocked, distant from my writing, and rudderless. When I came out, the intense work and deep nourishment of retreat had lifted me out of my busy life and grounded me again as a writer. All important to the weekends’ work was the skillful and gentle bodywork I received. My mental and physical blocks literally eased up. I felt better and wrote freely. Retreat was entirely nurturing and allowed me to be my best writing self. Now I have a plan for my manuscript, agent interest and a surefooted way to move forward. —Kate Baldwin, Newburyport, MA, writing teacher and retreat participant     KathleenM

Suzanne has been my guiding light and my inspiration. Dede is positive, and keeps me energized. Since working with them, my story has been highly praised by the best editors at major media outlets and some of the top publishing houses in NY considered my memoir for publication. And…at this last retreat, I just signed a book deal for my memoir The Widow and the Hijacker! —Kathleen Murray Moran, New York, NY, professor and repeat retreat participant   KatinaM

A true book shaman, Suzanne is wonderful, she is a gem, she’s talented sharp and very experienced in the literary business. After she helped me with my proposal, Dede took it on. Within 48 hours she had me in seven of the top publishing houses in New York City, and within one day I had my first book offer. I am now working on my next book!” —Katina Makris, Peterborough, New Hampshire, medical intuit and repeat retreat participant

Advance Review: Will Poole’s Island

•June 12, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Dede Cummings:

I am representing Vermont author, Tim Weed, for his publicity book launch campaign for his stunning debut novel, a YA historical fiction which is set on the island of Nantucket. Tim will be appearing at the Nantucket Book Festival on Saturday June 21st, where he will be under the authors’ tent signing books most of the day. Here is a first review of his book:

Originally posted on Tim Weed:

WPI Hi-Res Cover ArtRon Samul of the New London Patch has written a thoughtful advance review of Will Poole’s Island. Here’s an excerpt:

Will Poole’s Island is more than a coming of age story . . . the reader is left with a longing to find that place, that moment when everything is right and the everything is possible. It is a longing we all search for spiritually, geographically, and emotionally. This book proves that oppression, obstacles, fate, and the world we live in should not stop us from seeking that place. If we can’t find it right now, walk in the shoes of Will Poole and rediscover that lost island in your life. It will inspire you.”

Click here to read the full review.

The novel’s official launch date is August 15, but advance copies of the book are already available to order from Nantucket Book PartnersAmazon, Powell’s, Barnes…

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Bikes Not Burqas—one of our author’s goes global

•April 29, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Dede Cummings:

10277705_10203392482633725_390935059969731290_nI am the lucky agent for Shannon Galpin, and this piece is really exciting! Her book comes out September 16, 2014, but you can see it here and order from your indie bookstore in advance!

Read on, sign on to her newsletter, follow, and help us spread the word…. Thanks, as always for your support! I am so lucky to write and publish and be a literary agent and a book publicist. A quote from Shannon: “Several years ago my family gave me the silver ring that has become my talisman. The inscription by Longfellow reads, ‘the lowest ebb is at the turn of the tide.’ They gave it to me to remind me to be strong, follow my heart and believe that the tide would one day turn.”

Keep an ear out for the NPR piece about the national women’s cycling team that will be out this Friday!

Here are some photos from this week—so inspiring and we are hoping for a film about her to come out, too.

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Originally posted on Mountain2Mountain: Field Notes:

“It’s time to stop referring to Afghan women as weak, as helpless.  Its time to refer to Afghan women as strong, catalysts for change.  How can we expect Afghan women to fight if we continue to label them as victims?” 

I said these words at my first TEDx talk two years ago – 9 months before I first met the Afghan National Women’s Cycling Team.  I had been working in Afghanistan and was enraged by the way we continue to look at Afghan women, and women like them around the world, as helpless victims that are in need of the West’s support.  These are not victims, although they may be victimized.  These are women of strength and resiliency that need tools, encouragements, and the outlets to use their voice.  2  1/2 years later, the young women I work with in Afghanistan show me every day they are not helpless, they are…

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Jazz & Love for Howie Brofsky

•April 20, 2014 • 2 Comments

HowardBrofskyMy neighbor for 20 years, Howard Brofsky was an icon, a legend, a jazz pioneer; a Brooklyn-born trumpeter who moved to Vermont and lived down the road. Sometimes we’d come with a dish on the neighborhood walkabouts; or my husband would go down to get into crawl spaces, or help with basement flooding, if Howie wasn’t able to. There was always live jazz at their house; good food, wine, and children underfoot. My three children adored him, as a grandfather figure, yes, but also as a mentor in music and in life.

Howard always had time to listen to a young person. He’d stop everything to give an ear to their stories. He leaves his loving wife, Robin, and his children and grandchildren; and a legacy in his name at Queens College. He taught and played jazz right up until his quiet death in October. Many friends gathered at the J-Street Bar for a tribute, but the best memory for me, is shown in my photo—at his 86th birthday party last May— still vibrant, teaching, and adored by so many.

Last night at the Vermont Jazz Center, I attended a tribute to the late, great jazz master. It was a celebration of his life with musicians coming to Brattleboro, Vermont from all over the world. Howie’s wife, Robin Westen, spoke to the audience and said that her husband told her to “get it right” before he passed; Howie’s son, Gabriel Sky Westen, also spoke about how close he became to his father at the end of his life. Among the many jazz songs — both classics and some composted by Howard himself — there was one that made this listener, neighbor, and family friend, really feel Howard’s presence. Howie’s granddaughter, Cordelia Tapping sang Johnny Green’s “Body and Soul,” accompanied by pianist, Eugene Uman, director of the Vermont Jazz Center, with his older son, Alex Brofsky on horn.  At this moment, I felt like Cordelia, Eugene and Alex, also “got it right,” as did the rest of the musicians throughout the evening. Even though Howie was not there in body, he was with us in soul.

You can donate to Howard Brofsky’s legacy for the scholarship fund to help young musicians learn, play and jam at www.vtjazz.org

 

Submitting Work to Agents/Publications: Workshop with Dede Cummings, April 1, 2014

•April 2, 2014 • 3 Comments
Writer, literary agent, publisher, Dede Cummings. Photo by Jeff Woodward at http://www.jeffwoodwardphotography.com

Writer, literary agent, publisher, Dede Cummings. Photo by Jeff Woodward.

 
Writing a novel or a non-fiction or poetry collection is one thing, but once the hard part of writing is done, do you want to know how to actually submit your work? Green Writers Press publisher and literary agent Dede Cummings runs workshops throughout the US on creating successful book proposals and query letters, with strategies on how to get your foot in the door with an agent or publishing house, how to follow up, and what to do if you have multiple offers (it does happen!).
 

1.) General Principles

2.) Process

3.) What I have found that works

4.) Specific examples to support general principles

 

1.) How to Write a Query Letter
Query letters help you land an agent
“A query letter is a single page cover letter, introducing you and your book….[It] has three concise paragraphs: the hook, the mini-synopsis, and your writer’s biography. Don’t stray from this format. You won’t catch an agent’s attention by inventing a creative new query format. You’ll just alienate your chances of being taken seriously as a professional writer. A query letter is meant to elicit an invitation to send sample chapters or even the whole manuscript to the agent.” See the samples from Dede’s writers. Queries should include the following three elements:

  • Something about the book — enough to make the agent want more (this can be “creative” if you are writing fiction, or a log-line that is perfect)
  • Something about you — that is tailored as appropriate for your book
  • Something to read — You can just send a query letter and at the end ask them to respond if they want to see the manuscript or full proposal (for non-fiction) with sample chapters; or, you can include the first 3 to 5 pages of the manuscript pasted right into the email — some agents’ websites have firewalls preventing attachments, so do not initially send attachments. Plus, think about how busy an agent is—imagine yourself swamped with queries in your inbox and no time to resounds or read: How would you like to receive material?

2. Tips for a great query:
It starts with a few sentences designed to make the agent want to read your book. To figure out how to do this, read the back-cover-copy or flap copy of your favorite books. The goal is to write something interesting and captivating, so they will want to read more. Author bio for non-fiction: Include some information about yourself, specifically why YOU are uniquely qualified to write this book. What are your qualifications? Are you a published author? What’s the most important thing to know about your platform?  Remember Dede’s example of The Widow & The Hijacker on Salon.com Author bio for fiction: Don’t worry about platform and don’t stress about your bio. If you have traditionally published fiction before, tell them a bit about your publishing history (example, “I was a Glimmer Train finalist.”). If not, don’t worry about this part of the letter; just say you’re a first-time novelist. Be truthful! If you like, you can indicate that you’re a blogger and you’are active on Twitter and Facebook so the agent sees you’re aware of the importance of social networking for authors, which sometimes helps build your case. Poets and short fiction writers should join Poets & Writers and start getting work published! (Easy for me to say, having been writing poetry and trying to egg published for the last thirty years…but keep at it, and eventually you will find a zine or a print journal!) Note: A few questions arose about publishing excerpts from your work. Here is a quote from an interview with Linda Swanson-Davis, one of the editors of Glimmer Train:

There’s nothing inherently wrong with popping your stories up on Amazon or anywhere else. (It might be wise to read any fine print, make sure that you still hold the copyright and can, for instance, include the story in your own collection at a later date.)

Keep your query letter short: one type-written page, about 3 to 6 paragraphs (not including the sample pages). For non-fiction books, where platform is crucial, you may need to make it a little longer, include the marketing points, audience, any media. This is a LETTER—it’s best if the query is addressed to the recipient by name, and it should not only give your pitch and your personal information, it should be structured as a letter. MAKE THE LEAD PERSONAL.

Don’t say “Dear Agent.” Say, “Dear Ms. Cummings, I saw your write-up by Kathy Temean, and I congratulate you on your new agency.”

MOST DO NOT ACCEPT SNAIL MAIL QUERIES. Include the genre and word count. Do your research—how many words does a YA historical novel usually have? (80,000 is a good number.) Check the submission guidelines of each agent and/or publisher you’re querying. Note: some as for the first 3 to 5 pages of the manuscript pasted into the email; others don’t say, so use your best judgement. Let them know a full book proposal is ready to send should they want to see more. A completed manuscript is also ready and complete. An author bio (create your own One Sheet at Dede’s suggestion) is helpful to have, too.
NOTE: Upublished novelists must have a completed manuscript before querying. No attachments, unless specifically requested. Don’t ask them to click on a link, such as a link to your website or blog, but list it under your closing with your name/address/email.

3.) If you have a query letter you are ready to submit to an agent that is great, but here is a checklist:

  • Is this manuscript in the best possible shape for fiction/poetry
  • Is the full proposal (for non-fiction) edited and tight with a strong marketing analysis?
  • Is my query letter perfect and proofed?
  • Does your work fit the guidelines of the kinds of books the agent or agency represents?

If you can answer yes to all of the above, then please do the following: First choose which agent to whom you want to submit. Study the guidelines above as to what each one is looking for. Here is an example from an agent: http://booksandsuch.biz/blog/ Email a query letter and the first ten pages, along with a synopsis (3-5 paragraphs) and bio, in the body of an email to the agent of your choice. DO NOT submit to more than one agent in a specific agency. If your query is of interest, the agent to whom you submitted may choose to pass it on to another agent.

4.) An example to make you laugh and how one writer was able to “break the rules”…. I thought this query was attention-grabbing (!) and I am reading his ms. now. Some agents might not like this—remember, everyone is different… The book is simply called—HUT— and here is what he wrote in his email (which was longer!): My pitch is the recovery aisle: divorced guy moves into hut, practices yoga, blue collar, gets better. Writes his weather and land book. No sex. The end.”  He attached his website: https://sites.google.com/site/anthonychasewriter/home?overridemobile=true

~

If at first you don’t succeed, keep trying! Someone out there might really respond, but if you get 24 agents passing, it might be time to rethink your novel or proposal, and try a new approach in your writing. If you are lucky, you may get a response and an agent will offer suggestions and want to see more, or future manuscripts. Dede’s mantra: “Don’t give up hope!”

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Contact Dede at dede@greenwriterspress.com if you’d like her to do a workshop. Here’s what a few participants had to say about the last one:

Martin Hirchfeld
Very impressive!

Mabakoena Sekano
Extremely informative.

-JAAX-
Wholly overwhelming for someone who is just scratching the surface into trying to get published, but oh so super informative and inspiring. Dede is a delight!

William Munk
Once again, many kudos and hearty thanks to Dede! So much information and insight shared; so much to ponder. Terrific workshop.

Cynthia Close
Dede provided non-stop energy, a wealth of information, and encouragement!

Catherine Bodnar
Dede shares a wealth of information — a huge gift to the BWW community!

Brenda
So grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this lovely, lively workshop discussion. Thank you Dede for your delightful guidance, insights, humor, and authenticity — what a joy!

When Death Doth Us Part: Widowhood and Printing Presses

•March 21, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Dede Cummings:

A fascinating article on women in the letterpress. I studied with Sam Hamill, Tree Swensen, Michael McCurdy, and David R. Godine. I taught a few workshops with Dan Carr and Julia Ferrari, who,is the focus of this wonderful article, reblogged.

Originally posted on Designtraveler:

Women’s History Month 2014
Featuring: Julia Ferrari of the Golgonooza Letter Foundry & Press

 Date of Visit: February 21, 2014

 1. David Walter Master Craft Gallery
The Whole Art of Language, Julia Ferrari & Dan Carr’s Presses at Golgonooza
81 Main Street, Brattleboro, Vermont

2. Golgonooza Letter Foundry & Press
Box 111
25-30 Main Street
Ashuelot, New Hampshire
Link
Julia Front 2

Background
In mid-2012 Julia Ferrari became the sole proprietor of the Golgonooza Letter Foundry and Press after 30 years of partnership with her husband, Daniel Carr. The premature death of Carr two years ago deprived Julia of both her life partner and her business partner, a double loss from which she is now beginning to emerge with renewed purpose. It has not been easy but she is determined to continue the press, or some incarnation of it, on her own.

Julia is not alone in her situation, in fact she is…

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The Way to Create Great Writing (hint: it doesn’t have to be hard!)

•March 4, 2014 • 3 Comments

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Guest post by author/editor Suzanne Kingsbury

Sometimes when you least expect it, magic happens. And that magic almost always starts with intention.

This weekend eight incredible women took the step forward to make space for a little luxury, some pampering and tons and tons of creativity. On Friday afternoon, I walked into literary agent and publisher, Dede Cummings’, light-filled post and beam house in the hills of Vermont, and felt everything in me exhale. A fire burned in the fireplace, the house smelled of fresh fruit, and, as the dusk sky turned a magnificent ochre, my beautiful retreat women started piling in.

Continue reading ‘The Way to Create Great Writing (hint: it doesn’t have to be hard!)’

 
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