It started happening to me in the last three or four years. I’d be standing at a book fair or farmer’s market, my novel nicely displayed on the table, and the person standing in front of me says: “That was a great book! When’s the next one coming out?”
That book on the table is exhausted, played out. It is fondly remembered but has passed on. It’s finished.
What can I say? It takes me a long time to write a book. The Truth and Legend of Lily Martindale, took eight years to write, two more years to publish (thank you, SUNY Press, Excelsior Editions). It’s heyday was 2015, when it had received a goodly number of awards. Some people are still buying it. I still get asked to do readings and book groups, but it’s time to get another book out. And . . . I seem to have one.
The new book is called Elephant. (It also had an eight-year gestation.) Elephant is a complete, clean, imaginative, finished manuscript. Given the odds according to my publishing record (I’m 1 for 5), writing isn’t about me getting published. It certainly isn’t about making money. (To date? Lily Martindale has earned $84.84 in royalties.)
In case you were wondering why bother, writing is about the world of the mind, which has little to do with the real world. The world of my mind is a vast universe all my very own, and it’s lovely up there. The fields are verdant. The gardens are lush. The people are odd but kind. The situations may be strange and sometimes cruel but resolvable. There are immense possibilities for Peace and Well-Being. It’s fun. I’d like to retire there.
Down here, lately? Not so much.
So. What now? I’m back in my office, my two cats in their respective beds on the desk, some sunlight coming through the window and the irrepressible snow blower somewhere down the road. I’m tinkering with the usual query letter – a letter to a stranger in publishing who might want to read the manuscript, maybe publish it, or knows someone who does.
This, for me, is the hard part. It’s the only part I hate: sending out queries and submissions to agents and publishers. It’s time to put Elephant out there in the realm of the similarly afflicted who love books and reading and the strange world of the mind – I’m hopeful that means my mind in particular. This book is for people who care about the strange and wonderful, higgledy-piggledy, jagged land mass we call the Adirondack State Park and also the plight of elephants in Africa as well.
Here’s the elevator pitch: Elephant is about an unusual museum in a small Adirondack town. The museum, a castle, is known for its collection of art and odd artifacts. The museum receives an anonymous donation of a taxidermy elephant–a full-sized, African savannah bull elephant. The museum becomes more than an obscure Adirondack oddity. Attendance and donations rise. So does the interest of State Department officials, wildlife conservationists, and black market ivory dealers. All want information about its mysterious donor–information they believe the museum director, her trustees, and the elephant are hiding. Who is the donor? Only one of them knows. Oh, and who will save the elephant?
So, whaddya think? Know anybody? Does this sound like a fun book that might be a good read? If so, let me know what you think. It’s finished!
I will absolutely buy and read this.
Thank you, Alice! When you comin’ back, Red Ryder? I still gotta meet the guy!
Congratulations, Shartelli! Since you seem to specialize in 8 year gestations – vs. that of the pachys (just short of 2 years) – I can only imagine the complicated mix of post-natal emotions. But given Lily’s array of laurels, I’m hoping that publishers will give “Elephant” the serious attention I’m sure it deserves.
Keeping my fingers and toes crossed for you.
On Mon, Mar 7, 2022, 12:58 PM Mary Sanders Shartle wrote:
> msshartle posted: ” It started happening to me in the last three or four > years. I’d be standing at a book fair or farmer’s market, my novel nicely > displayed on the table, and the person standing in front of me says: “That > was a great book! When’s the next one coming out?” ” >
Thank you, lovey! I’m currently listening to Ayub Ogada, a West Kenyan, who sings so beautifully. Acoustic Africa on Pandora has been so lovely to bop to as I work. When are you going to produce your “My Life in Providing Life Lines”?
I am so with you about query letters and all the packaging you must do to even begin to interest a publisher. So time-consuming and energy busting. I was a little confused by your query letter. Why is it so compelling to know who the donor is? And if the elephant is taxidermied what needs to be saved? I am probably being dense.
Hey! Mary Cuffe Perez – The donor’s identity is the mystery behind why so many people are interested in the presence of this elephant in such an unlikely place. The elephant becomes a boon and curse to the town and it’s old museum. It even makes NPR news. But there are nefarious influences at work that are threatening. The fourth largest illegal trade in the world is ivory – behind drugs, weapons and human trafficking. Something like three billion dollars.
I am still treasuring “A Woman of Too Many Days.” (did I get that right? It’s downstairs in the living room.)