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Newsletter Dated: 6/30/2008 10:26:56 PM
Subject: Andrea Campbell*s Soup*s On
Andrea Campbell’s Newsletter
*** Greetings! ***
This newsletter is being sent to you because you are a writer, professional friend of Andrea*s, or a fan and reader of her books. If you are new to the list, welcome. There are a ton of newsletters and e-zines out there to read, thanks for requesting and reading mine.
New! We are now going to accept writing-related or book debut advertising. The ads will be limited in number, minimal, and inexpensive. Please contact: email@example.com for more information and rates.
In this issue:
• From the Author*s Desk
• Jeannie Ralston - Passionate Memoir
• Pieronymous Kosch Interview
*** From The Author*s Desk ***
Looking for a fresh take on crime and media issues? Women in Crime Ink brings you different ideas than what is on television, though you would probably recognize us from a lineup of media outlets. http://www.womenincrimeink.blogspot.com
Get ready to gear up for another session of my e-course Publish That Book: How to Write a Nonfiction Book Proposal That Sells. Circle start date September 16—kids will be back in school and it’s a new beginning. If you’ve wanted to write that book but can’t seem to get it together, this e-class is your solution. Students are already on board! Check it out at: http://www.absoluteclasses.com/Campbell/publish.htm
Love Monkey - - see a few of the characters, download a sell sheet, pick-up free Author’s Notes or buy a copy securely with PayPal. Love Monkey is whacked, sure, (because the characters are monkeys) but the story is right-on and the book pictures are a hoot! Great for gifts for the romance or mystery friend. Take a look: http://www.monkeyromance.com
*** Interview with Jeannie Ralston ***
Q.: Can you tell Soup’s On readers about your writing background?
A.: I have been on a journalism path since high school, and was editor of the school newspaper. I majored in journalism at the University of South Carolina and had internships at the St. Petersburg Times, Time Magazine in London and McCall’s Magazine in New York. I lived in New York for 10 years, was editor-in-chief of TeenAge magazine, and wrote freelance for Life, Time, the New York Times, National Geographic, Smithsonian, Glamour, Vogue, and others. I’ve been a contributing editor for Parenting Magazine, Allure and Ladies Home Journal.
Q.: Please describe your book for those who have not read it or for someone who may be interested in buying it.
A.: I think of the book as a story of growth and maturation, both the personal and botanical variety. After a stimulating former life as a magazine writer in Manhattan and Austin, I reluctantly moved to rural Texas as part of a bargain with my husband, a National Geographic photographer. Eventually, I took over the lavender farm he started and surprisingly built it into a successful business—in the process transforming myself, my community, and the agricultural industry of the area.
The book follows the development of the farm, Hill Country Lavender, with its 4 1/2 acres of flowers, through droughts, grasshopper plagues and other setbacks, and details my parallel evolution. The book is about love, commitment and learning to let go.
Q.: What inspired you to write the Unlikely Lavender Queen?
A.: I began thinking of writing this book in the summer of 2005, after what I anticipated would be my last season running the farm. I thought I had something out of the ordinary to say. I had seen a few movies—Baby Boom is one—and read several books, such as I Don’t Know How She Does It that tie up all the loose ends by sending the heroine off to a life in the country, which we are meant to assume is blissful. After my experience, I knew that this wasn’t necessarily true. The book offers a different, more realistic take.
But the main reason I wrote this book is that whenever I told my story to the visitors at our lavender farm people seemed truly fascinated. Not only by the agricultural aspects but by the major life changes, struggles and compromises I made. I think people were responding to the idea that you can’t plan for happiness. You think you know what you need to be fulfilled, but when life takes you down a completely different track, even far from where you thought you’d be professionally or personally, you can still find contentment.
Q.: A memoir typically involves writing about family, co-workers and friends. How did you handle this? Did you use friend’s real names? Ask for their (or anyone’s) opinion?
A.: I used a lot of real names, including my husband’s. I was most concerned about my husband’s reaction because a) I have to live with him and b) he has a creative career himself and I didn’t want to hurt his reputation. I didn’t show him the proposal and sample chapter until after I got a contract (and I’m not sure why that is). He just told me to please not be too hard on him, and I wasn’t writing this to get even or cast him in a bad light. I wanted to show how difficult it can be to stay true to yourself within a marriage—especially a marriage to a forceful, passionate man. He was the first one to read my manuscript and I remember coming into the house after he had finished it and was crying. My first reaction was, “Is it that bad?” He told me, “I’m so glad we stayed together through all of this.”
He can be very funny about the whole thing. Right before the book came out, I was nervous, hoping readers wouldn’t think badly of him. I expressed my concerns and he said, “I don’t care what people say about me, as long as it does well for you.” I said, “But what if it doesn’t do well?” “Oh well then,” he replied, “you’re out of here.”
I did make alterations. For instance, my sister, who still lives in Kingsport, Tennessee, didn’t like how I’d portrayed the city. She thought I was too harsh, implying that it was a complete Hicksville. After hearing her thoughts, I agreed and softened my descriptions.
I changed a few names because I didn’t want to hurt people, such as my ex-fiance. Of course, he’ll know who he is, but I didn’t want others to be able to identify him.
Really the biggest problem I’ve had with friends is some of them feeling hurt that they weren’t mentioned or that they weren’t mentioned more than they were, or that I left out something that seemed significant to them. I had to explain that I really had to stick to the spine of the story.
Q.: How hard was it for you to find your focus?
A.: It wasn’t that hard for a couple of reasons. Looking back at my lavender years, I started to see the storyline taking shape. It seemed clear to me that lavender had changed my life and my feelings about where I lived. Early on in rural Texas I had been miserable, so I was going to focus on telling how I was leading a high-flying life when I was younger, then I wanted to show how I slowly began making accommodations for my marriage until I ended up in a place I never thought I would be. Then I had to show how I began crawling out of what felt like a not-too-pleasant hole and began making the best of it. I had some questions about how much I should tell about my life. I was worried that people would get impatient if I tried to tell too much. Maybe they’d want to get to the lavender part faster. I decided that I needed a fair amount of my life before lavender so that readers understood what I had before, where I had thought I was heading and what I gave up to be in rural Texas.
The other thing that really helped me find my focus was the on-line course I took with Andrea on writing a non-fiction book proposal. It really helped me be more disciplined about finding the storyline and sticking to it as I laid out the book in my mind and on paper.
Q.: Can you speak to how the book is organized? How much input did your editor provide? Would you like to describe the editing?
A.: Actually, I really came up with the basic organizing principle during my on-line class with Andrea. I wanted to show how my personal development paralleled the development of an agricultural enterprise. That’s why I divided the book into 3 distinct sections.
The first section is The Field, and it includes chapters on severing roots (leaving New York), Texas soil (coming to the state), rocks (building our house in the country) and fertilizer (which is kind of a funny since it’s about trying to get pregnant).
The second section: The Seedling, is about how the idea of a lavender farm came to be and how my husband got it going. The chapters are Greenhouse (which is about Provence, where my husband came up with his lavender farming idea), Rain (which is a bit ironic because it’s about how unhappy I was in the country and my post partum depression) and then Sun (when I started to readjust my feelings about living in the country).
The third section is called The Bloom and it goes from the first season that the lavender bloomed to the last season we ran the business. This is when I (and the field) reached our peak. It covers five seasons, and the chapters reflect all the good things associated with lavender, but the last chapter is called drying out. I chose that name because by the end, the lavender business had gotten so crazy with new complications as more people were getting into the business and looking for a piece of the pie; there were some problems that weighed down the enjoyment a bit.
There’s also a prologue and an afterword. I started the book with the lavender. People would be expecting to read about the lavender right off and I wanted to hook them in with descriptions of the fields and the flowers. I decided to start with the first thing I ever did with the lavender, which was making a delivery of cut lavender blooms to a floral market. During my class with Andrea she said that the best way to begin a book was in the middle of the middle. That delivery was really the middle of the middle. It was the place from which I could easily look back and also take the story forward.
The editing process was surprisingly painless. My editor was a wonderful collaborator. She loved the way the book was organized, and the flow. Mostly she wanted me to cut some sections that she thought were slowing down the story. For instance, I had a whole section on how my father and brother got us into the lavender oil distillation business. She thought it was taking the story a little too far off course. Most of the other changes she asked for were really small things. It took me about two weeks to implement all her changes. I mostly took her suggestions; I’m good about following directions and used to being edited.
There was one addition we devised together that I think helped the book. We had a conversation about whether people would feel a need to be reminded of the lavender as they were reading the parts of my life, pre-lavender. The thought was to pre-empt any impatience with the sections that were far from the lavender field. I had kept nearly every e-mail that had been written to me about lavender and I suggested that maybe I should include excerpts at the start of every chapter; just to convey the enthusiasm that people had for the lavender farm. I think dropping back to the lavender theme worked well.
Q.: How did you connect with your agent? Will you share some of the process?
A.: I had known my agent when I lived in New York years ago, but I’d forgotten about him till the summer of 2006, after I had finished polishing my proposal and had sent it out to several other agents. Back when I lived in New York getting an agent wasn’t such a big deal. Agents everywhere were eager to represent writers who had enthusiasm, a track record and some ideas. We had tossed around a few ideas back then, and I’d even started writing a proposal for him, but then I met my husband, moved out of New York and got sidetracked.
I’ve come to realize that getting a good agent is infinitely more difficult these days. Actually at this point, I would say that getting a good agent is more difficult than getting a publisher. I think I can say that because agents are so much more discerning now; they really filter out the promising from the not-so. I think if a good agent gets behind your project, you’re well on your way to getting a book deal.
In summer 2006, I tried three agents who represented friends. One turned it down right away, citing the crowded memoir field. The other two were being sluggish about coming to a decision. That’s when I remembered the man who is my current agent. I tracked him down and sent him an e-mail. He wrote back, had remembered me and would take a look at the proposal.
I’ll never forget the first e-mail I got back from him after he read it. It was two words: “I’m smitten.” I started crying and I think it made me about as happy as I’ve ever been professionally. I wrote back “I’m faintin’” and then asked where we should go next. He told me he wanted to do a more thorough edit, and make a chapter outline that was more personal, more evocative. He loved the sample chapter (which is now the prologue) and he wanted my chapter outline to have more of that tone. He wanted me to show editors what I would be giving them versus just telling them in a very clipped, shorthand version. I worked on that for about a month, beefing up the chapter summary. He thought I did a good job, but still wanted more oomph in some sections. I dropped everything and gave the chapter summaries my full attention, adding more anecdotes and personal observations.
While he was looking at my latest revision, I was scheduled to go to New York, so I arranged to meet with him. I wasn’t sure that he was going to take the project on. I hadn’t heard his opinion on the new draft. But in our meeting he was talking as if everything with him was a go. He said he thought the book would do well because it’s uplifting and about personal transformation. I was feeling better just hearing him talk but I wanted to be sure. “So, does this mean you’re my agent?” I asked. He laughed, probably because I sounded like such a rube, and said, “Yes, I’m your agent.” I left that meeting flying high.
The next step—getting a publisher to buy the book—was surprisingly worry free because I didn’t really know what was going on. When I got home, I thought my agent was going to tell me what else he needed—photos, press clippings, etc—before he sent it out. After 2 weeks, I finally e-mailed him. He called to tell me he had already sent it out to several publishers and had a lot of interest. How wonderful that I didn’t know, because I would have been in knots of worry during that time. Two editors wanted to talk to me on the phone and I had good chats with each. Then a couple days later, my agent called and said we’d gotten an offer. One of the editors I’d talked to came through with a very nice arrangement. It was truly a magical experience. I consider myself so fortunate.
Q.: Who is your publisher and what can you tell Soup’s On readers about them?
A.: The publisher is Broadway Books, a Doubleday imprint. They’ve done some really nice books; are professional, organized, and efficient. After I turned in the manuscript in June 2007, I was up in New York. My editor took me to lunch to celebrate. It was such a heady moment. We went back to the offices and met with three other people: the person who would be trying for first serial sales (excerpts in magazines), the marketing person (who promotes the book with bookstores and book buyers) and the publicity person (who sets up appearances, book signings, and any media coverage). I couldn’t believe that all four were going to be helping my book succeed. I’d never before in my life had a team helping me professionally.
I have made sure to keep them happy and interested in my book. The first thing I did was send each one of them a basket of goodies from the lavender farm. (Actually I had sent my agent, his assistant and the editor lavender treats right after the deal.) I’ve since sent Christmas presents and made sure to be thankful at every opportunity. They could have easily put my book on the backburner and I wanted them to know how grateful I was for everything.
Q.: You are getting a lot of promotion—please tell us how this happened and how it’s going.
A.: Publicity is right on top of things, and I know that’s not always so. I’ve heard many people (including my husband, who just recently had a photo book published) complain that their p.r. people hadn’t done enough. I have no complaints. I’m not sure if it’s because she liked the story, or liked me, or if she’s just a very competent person, or a combination of the above, but I’m sure happy.
But having said that, I never depended on her for press coverage and promotion. One thing I learned by running the lavender farm is that I’m good at marketing and publicity. Publicity is a natural extension of what I do as a freelance writer—shaping an angle for a story and knowing how to present it to an editor. I did a lot myself, mostly using media contacts I’ve made over the years in publishing. Parenting magazine did a short blurb about the book since I’m a contributing editor there. A friend at the New York Times ended up writing about the book for the Home section—an enormous plug. I also turned to editors and publications that had written about our lavender farm in the past—which included all the major newspapers in Texas, Southern Living, some Texas-oriented magazines.
I’ve also had a big hand in arranging my book tour. I’m fortunate, as a first time author, to get a book tour in this day and age. Broadway was going to send me to three cities, but we’ve been able to stretch that out because I’ve been able to save them money. I will probably only spend one night in a hotel at Broadway’s expense. Fortunately, I have friends to stay with in places on the book tour schedule. Also, the p.r. person knew where I’d be going on my summer travels and she was able to set up some bookstore appearances in places along the way.
I’ve also set up my own events. I had a New York book party at my own expense. I couldn’t imagine not celebrating with friends and editors in the city where I first started my career. It was a really nice party—small goody bags of lavender products for every guest, plus a signature drink (the “Lavender Haze”) made with vodka donated by a friend who has his own vodka company. The party brought a bit of extra attention to the book, and presented me in a new way to editors who only knew me as a magazine writer.
I tapped into my friend network too. A friend with a nice store in Austin threw me a party and gave over her storefront windows to my book; a huge poster hung in a window at one of the busiest intersections in Austin. Another friend arranged a speaking gig for me at the South Carolina Festival of Flowers.
I’ve also been able to use the e-mail list of the lavender business to promote the book (even though I don’t own the business any longer). And one of the stops on my book tour was the Blanco Lavender Festival, which I helped start; it was the perfect market—people who cared about lavender and knew of our farm.
I’m stopping at another lavender festival on my tour and one group linked to my home page on their festival web site; another let me write an essay for their brochure. For the largest lavender festival in the country, I invested my own money in an ad in the festival brochure too. Broadway didn’t have advertising in the budget, but I figured the people who would be looking at the brochure were such a perfect market.
I also used my own money to put together a nice website, trying to anticipate what people would want to know abut the book if they were trying to decide to buy it. I also thought that press people might consult the website as they were deciding whether to cover the book and included a sample chapter so people they could test-drive the book before they bought.
The main thing I would say about promotion is to really pull out all stops—using your own skills and resources but not being shy about asking to use the skills and resources of friends and family. Also, at some points you may have to put some of your own advance money to work. The advance I got was bigger than I expected so I decided a portion of it could go to furthering sales and buzz.
But I have to say that I truly expected more coverage, and have been a bit disappointed in myself for not converting more of my contacts into stories. I know editors at Glamour, Self, More, Good Housekeeping—but I didn’t get any mentions there. I’d once written a story about the lavender for Oprah magazine and I thought maybe they’d at least mention the book as a follow up, but that didn’t work out.
My publicist did get placements in Allure magazine, Fortune Small Business, Town & Country and Body & Soul. So I really have NOTHING to be sad about.
The other day I was telling my husband that even though I was completely confident that my book was good, I had begun to realize how hard it is to get noticed. There are so many books out there vying for attention. I’d done everything possible to get more attention, but I was beginning to realize just what I was up against.
That very same day, Good Morning America recommended my book as a good summer read (the publicist had sent the book to the show) and my sales numbers on Amazon shot up (at least for a time). What that tells me is that these things can turn on a dime and you can never be sure what’s going to pay off and what won’t, which is not necessarily comforting. It is just reality.
*** Pieronymous Kosch ***
Q.: How long have you been a practicing artist?
A.: Formally, since 1980. That year I received my diploma on Graphic Art from the University of Applied Arts in Budapest. But I am an artist as far back as I can remember.
Two phases of my life can never be erased from my memories. When I was just 3 years old, in 1951, my family and I were banned from Budapest as we were considered to be the enemy of our own people. And the second event was in 1956, when I was watching the Soviet military tanks rolling into Budapest. Those early childhood traumas still have influence on my pictures with political themes. I am totally against suppression on people of any kind of different ideology.
Q.: What is your medium of choice (oils, colored pencils, inks, acrylics, mixed media, etc.)
A.: I am a visual artist first of all, and I always choose the medium that helps me best to express my inner self and what precisely I like to express. It is always matched to the abandonment (frescos, erasures, etchings, board pictures), the desires of the client (ex libris, portraits, mural, digital graphics) and finally…on my mood (self-portrait, caricature).
Q.: How do you find work? And what about a few interesting commissions you have done?
A.: In the early days of my profession, I used to send my portfolios all over the world. Nowadays the clients come personally to me or place orders through the Internet. For example, when John Paul II visited Hungary, I was commissioned for designing the graphic ornaments of his holy dress. When Jimmy Carter, the former President of America visited my hometown, Szigetszentmiklós, I made a handwritten document for him on request of the city administration. I take part in different art projects, and participate in art exchange programs. I had been to Jönköping (Sweden) for that, participated in the Euarca program in Germany, and work on consecutive group shows in the Frankfurt book fair, while in the summer I often spend my spare time in art colonies.
Also I participate in the international art-project on artmesh.org. "A Story to see" - - http://www.astorytosee.com/
Q.: Do you have an agent or do you get projects and promote yourself?
A.: In the beginning, I worked for advertising agencies regularly, participated in international competitions and won prizes. I illustrated more than one dozen of children's books for several Hungarian publishing houses. At present my daughter Veronika Kosch (http://www.verocska.de) is my manager. She looks after my web pages, organizes exhibitions, and helps me to stay in contact with my clients, publishing houses and collectors. Right now I am looking for an agent in the USA, who is in good contact with the publishing houses and can arrange orders for me.
Q.: I'm sorry but when I wrote you that I had a brain blip and called you: Hieronymous Bosch. What can you tell Soup's On readers about him and am I the only one who's ever done this?
Pieronymus Kosch is my artist name. With this name I refer to my model and master, Hieronymus Bosch. He was a pioneer surrealistic painter, still before Dali. His art stands very near to me, probably because of my ancestors who also were Saxons from Flanders, re-settled in Transylvania, today Romania, around 1200 AD. Bosch was an extraordinary genius. And if our names are confounded it will be an honor to me, which shows a straightway intention of my picking up the nomenclature.
Q.: How do you decide on your subject matter?
A.: Do you ask for the topic that I am working on? The topic is important, but it is not the first consideration. The style always comes first. “Le style c'est l'homme.” isn’t it? About my topics I can tell you in my own way. Simply the suffering-creeping-crawling-greedy skin-bags are interesting for me: “humans.” Even my religious icons are secular, although I am religious. But in my opinion, Jesus had never been to any hairdresser… thus if he is tousled, he is more authentic for me. In my art I am much more interested in the beginning (archaic, primitive, folklore) than in the end which we have today. These art happenings with dance and music, these modern forms of throes of death… The modernity is always something which disappears as fast as possible.
My own style is simply the “spiritual and grotesque one” bizarre or “pieronymus art.” That means, I always look at this grotesque world through my spiritual eyeglasses, I perform a picture of it in my brain, and then I create my own, a spiritual grotesque world.
Neither the photorealistic nor the purely abstract art is interesting for me. I regard both as a visual dead end. I am neither a camera, nor one of the “ground lubricated with tubes of colours.”
I always strive to leave my “own fingerprint.”
Q.: What is your working day like? Do you have a studio set-up?
A.: My days are varied. In the first weekdays I work with young persons, I teach art and the history of art in a High School near Budapest, and I prepare pupils for the entrance examinations for the University of Art in Budapest. In the second half of the week I paint and draw like I want to do in my own studio at home, or in the studios of the “Insula art group” (http://insulaart.wordpress.com), a group of artists lead by me.
Q.: How do you package and transport your work? Is it expensive? And how do you protect your originals?
A.: Since Hungary also belongs to the European Union, the transport of art objects became safer and much more simplified. Nevertheless, I prefer, even if it is a bit more expensive, the insured dispatch. So nothing should actually go wrong. My pictures are packed very carefully, and are sent from Hungary. Prints, posters etc. are sent from Germany. The payments are made through PayPal.
Q.: Do you have the support of your family? or membership in professional groups?
A.: All are artists in my family. I am a commercial artist, painter and illustrator, my wife: Èva Jànosy (http://evajanosy.wordpress.com) is a goldsmith and also teaches art to young people. My 3 daughters: Veronika is an artist who lives in Cologne, Germany, Zsófia studies ceramics art in the "University of the Applied Arts" in Budapest (http://pieronymuskosch.ning.com/profile/SophieKosch), and my youngest daughter Réka is an aspiring photographer (http://www.damocska.deviantart.com).
My son is a computer scientist who is at present, is under training as a firefighter. Our children support us and bear our art practice in a very unusual way of life.
I am a member of different organizations. Alike: member of the Association of Hungarian Fine and Applied Artists, the Society of Hungarian Illustrators, the GRAFIPAX group of artists, director/conductor of the art association Insula Art Group Szigetszentmiklós.
Q.: What are you working on now?
A.: With the technical help of my daughter Verocska I founded an Internet-network for arts. With this network I would like to help young artists to get in touch of other artists all over the world. The site Pieronymus Art Network (http://pieronymuskosch.ning.com/) has already nearly 400 members.
At present I prepare myself for a group exhibition in Italy. Together with my good friend Mario Di Cicco I shall exhibit in autumn 2008 in Meldola. I would like to paint in every free minute of my life, like a shark, who must swim all the time to survive.
Q.: Do you have any advice for budding artists?
A.: Yes, I have! They should not become artists just for earning a lot of money, rather be able to create great things. As we know, even Van Gogh could sell only one picture in his life, and that only with the help of others. Money and selling is not the only yardstick in the art. They should paint so that their souls find the peace in themselves. Oh, and by the way, they should spend 30 to 40 years of their life for art. A good priest learns till his death too. And last but not the least, and not only the young artists, if you want to get acquainted with me better, register yourself on Pieronymus Art Network.
Pieronymus Art Network: http://pieronymuskosch.ning.com
Online gallery: http://www.bananr.com/8783355@N04
*** Future Newsletters ***
In upcoming newsletters we will share a new interview or two, talk more about publishing, and provide additional writer’s tips. If there is any area you would like to discuss, just send me a note. Thanks for the read. : 0 )
Copyright©2008 Andrea Campbell If you wish to quote from here, fine, just attribute it to me and my web site.