Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Muzzle Velocity

(NOTE: Appliances make life easier. Where would our civilization be if not for the toaster, steam iron, and food processor? Fingers are meant for other things, like reading books. You were waiting for the connection and the connection appeared, much like the student and the teacher. This is why the curious man or woman will always pay attention to indicia.)

Workshops are easier than readings. The beleaguered fourth wall is non-existent and whoever shows up is there to participate with questions and opinions. Sunday, February 4 started like a Sunday, the rush around the apartment to make coffee and read e-mail at the same time, iron a clean shirt (see above NOTE), and compile the notes for the workshop. This is followed by a look at the clock. The Golden Gate Transit bus leaves too soon. Where are my house keys? Where is my necktie? What about shoes?

Not until the bus is halfway across the Golden Gate Bridge do I find my notes missing. Heck and gosh, I’m screwed until I find the Corte Madera Public Library open. The librarian shows me to a terminal where I can grab the notes from my e-mail account and print out the pages so I look kind of professional. For empathy and plain niceness, the Corte Madera library is the best in the Bay Area. This is less of a surprise when I walk into Book Passage and find the staff is nice, too. There is a display of THE DOG and flyers posted on vertical surfaces announcing the workshop. Plus, I get to abuse drinking privileges at the cafe. A double espresso and I’m good to go.

Fifteen intense, football-hating writers fill chairs in the room at the back. They are interested in nonfiction and memoir, except for one man who believes the novel is still important. I agree, but the nonfiction people outnumber him and so we concentrate on the mechanics of writing, take a break, and come back for the terrible truths about publishing. My favorite metaphor for the current state of making books in this country is to imagine the hulks of the Bertlesmann Group (Bantam-Doubleday-Dell and Random House), Pierson (Viking Penguin and Putnam), HarperCollins, Hachette (Time Warner Book Group), and Holzbrinck (St. Martin’s, Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, and Henry Holt) as a collective giant Komodo dragon lizard. The scaly beast drags its fat belly across sun-warmed rocks until contractions begin and fluffy bunnies issue from where the ugly lizard usually drops ugly eggs.

After the workshop, I sign five books for those coerced into buying copies, and am asked to sign ten more for stock. The coolness continues when I am given a gift from the store, a box of stationery with my name in embossed calligraphy. Book Passage has class and the shelves are full of terrific books. For those who missed the novel when first released, Elliot Perlman’s SEVEN TYPES OF AMBIGUITY (NY: Riverhead Books, 2004) is on the remainder shelf at five dollars for the hardcover. Seven voices tell the same story only different, and Perlman has told his story without the bothersome “he said, she said.”

How well did the workshop go? Book Passage has invited me to run an all-day seminar on writing and publishing in May at their Ferry Building store. News about date, time, place, and dress requirements will follow.


Novelista, blogger, renegade mom, and mistress of the link Rebecca Woolf will soon be a published book writer. She wanted to start with her novel, THE ENVELOPE, but has taken the other treacherous path with ROCK THE CRADLE: ADVENTURES IN URBAN MOTHERHOOD, her story of being a young mom and raising her son, Archer Sage, with her good heart instead of manuals. Ace agent Laura Rennert sold the proposal to editor Brooke Warner at Seal Press/Avalon Books in a “nice deal.” This means Archer gets to eat for two whole months out of the six writing the book will take. We don’t do this stuff to get rich. Rebecca has been in print lots of times with CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE TEENAGE SOUL, but this is her own book with her name in 36-point type on the cover. Check out her web site at


Get yourself down, up, or over to Big Sur for a truly swell weekend of writing, critiques, rewrites, and buffet dinners. Apply for the Fourth Annual Big Sur Fiction Writing Workshop and meet publishing professionals who care about books and writers. The faculty includes Andrea Brown, president of Andrea Brown Literary Agency; Suzanne Herz, publisher of Flying Dolphin Press; Laura Rennert, ace agent mentioned above with Andrea Brown Literary Agency; Barry Eisler, novelist; Eric Adams, producer, director, screenwriter, journalist, and novelist; Sal Glynn, editor and writer of the acclaimed THE DOG WALKED DOWN THE STREET; Robert Hough, journalist and novelist; Cynthia Frank, president of Cypress House and publisher of the acclaimed THE DOG WALKED DOWN THE STREET; and Bonnie Hearn Hill, novelist.

March 9–11, 2007, 2 pm Friday to 2 pm Sunday
Henry Miller Library
Highway One
Big Sur, CA 93920
(831) 667-2574


The San Francisco/Peninsula Writers will meet on April 21 and host “Are You Ready Yet? Drafting Toward Perfection,” with me as the guest speaker. This time I’ll remember my notes. The event will be held from 10am to noon at:
Hobee’s Restaurant
1101 Shoreway Road
Belmont (near Ralston Avenue and Hwy 101)

Cost (includes a continental breakfast):
$15 for California Writers Club members
$18 for non-members
Reservations in advance are advised. Call the club hotline (650) 615-8331 or send an E-mail to reservations chairman, George Jansen, at
Mail your check to the chairman, or pay at the door.
CWC Reservations
657 Warwick Place
Hayward, CA 94542

NEXT: Happiness is a Warm Royalty Check


Blogger GIRL'S GONE CHILD said...

Thank you for the shout-out! Wooo! And I'm pouting that I won't be making it to Big Sur this time. Bleh.

Missing you!

12:13 AM  
Blogger Sal Glynn said...

ROCK THE CRADLE sounds cool but I want the sequel written by Archer, LIVING WITH A FAMOUS MOM: Tribulations of Being a Hotshot Writer's Son. Oh, the burden of fame on the famous!

You rock to the thousandthe degree.

9:06 AM  
Blogger TJ Sullivan said...

Sal, How is it that you departed Big Sur without my obtaining your email address? Very clever, my friend. A blog and no email address. What are you trying to imply, that the only editor worth listening too is one with something serious to hide? There may be some value in that. I wanted to thank you for the many brilliant suggestions and the conversation. It helped make Big Sur a great experience. So, email me already so I can keep in touch and let you know if I should ever accomplish publication.

5:18 PM  

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