I am so excited to announce my first “official” review for The Robot Scientist’s Daughter, up at The Rumpus, written by Mary McMyne:
It’s a really well-written review (can I admit it even brought tears to my eyes? it did!), so I am thankful to The Rumpus and to Mary for writing and publishing it! Here’s a little quote:
“She reminds the reader “that your atoms right now are smashing against/ the atoms of your chair. What is keeping you together?” In the end, these are the central concerns of Gailey’s newest collection, her most haunting and masterful book yet.”
(Did I mention you can buy a signed copy now of The Robot Scientist’s Daughter from me on my page by just clicking “Signed Copy?” It’s available now!)
I also want to do a quick writeup of a reading I went to last night by Kelli Agodon and Martha Silano at the RASP Old Schoolhouse. (See pic below of me hanging out with the girls after their reading…) I got there a little late, and was happy to see the place packed, and what was even more surprising to me, it was mostly people I knew. I felt more like a part of Redmond’s poetry community than I had even when I was Redmond’s Poet Laureate. Kelli and Martha did a great job with the reading, and it was fun catching up with a bunch of folks I hadn’t seen in a while.
As one of those weird lucky things that happens after readings, we stopped by the library to drop off a book, and I was amazed by the beautiful sight of the cherry trees in bloom in the parking lot, lit up by streetlights. So I snapped a picture. It was pretty magical. Magic poetry readings are the best poetry readings.
Well, it’s been an eventful week. We bid on a house, rushing to get ours ready for sale, only to have the (very reasonable, I might add) bid rejected, so then we promptly stopped rushing to get the house ready. In the process of getting the house ready, once again I divested myself of things – shoes and jeans that never quite fit properly, books I hadn’t (and probably never would) read, back issues of cooking, travel, and literary magazines. It’s become quite a habit, moving and getting rid of things, then making a home in a new space. I’ve enjoyed my time out here but am ready to move a little closer to the city. The neurologist’s news that I probably won’t recover my ability to do stairs fully also kind of pushed us in the direction of getting rid of our two-story townhouse, however charming.
Yesterday I spent two hours at a downtown holistic dentist, who was perfectly willing to give me fillings without giving me general anesthesia, which I found quite comforting. (They told me about another patient allergic to Novocain, who brings a little flask of liquor with her for things like extractions.) They stuck mirrors in my mouth and took pictures of my teeth, took digital x-rays (more x-rays – so many this year – eek!) and tapped on all my teeth with sharp implements – but overall, I am very thankful to find someone who will work on someone with all my strangeness. They even gave me a little laser treatment for TMJ (which, this morning, did help the TMJ, but left purple welts on both cheeks – eep! Remind me never to have Fraxel!) Have you even heard of such a thing? Holistic and full of lasers – seems like a microcosm of Seattle.
And what does any of this have to do with poetry? Nothing much, just that, a few days before The Robot Scientist’s Daughter official launch, I’m still behind on getting the word out, getting postcards in the mail, writing e-mails to friends about upcoming readings. I should be writing poems, sending out work. (See Kelly Davio’s post here on “What I wish I knew about launching my first book…) AWP is approaching, which I’m going to miss this year, sadly. You know how I’ve probably said here on the blog before, you can do so much for your book, but you always feel like you’re not quite doing enough? That’s how I’m feeling now. I’ve got a few readings lined up (March 15 on Bainbridge Island, April 16 for Seattle), scheduled a blog tour (thanks to Serena – see previous post) and have a box of copies ready to go out into the world. I kind of wish that life would quiet down for each book’s launch, like, say, March 1st might be a holiday just for poetry launches!
I’m very excited today to feature an interview with Serena M. Agusto-Cox. I know Serena from her book blog, Savvy Verse & Wit, but she’s also just started a book blog tour service for small press authors! Don’t know what a book blog tour is? Read this!
Serena M. Agusto-Cox is a poet and amateur photographer who lives outside Washington, D.C. Her poems have appeared in Beginnings Magazine, LYNX, Muse Apprentice Guild, The Harrow, Poems Niederngasse, Avocet, and Pedestal Magazine. An essay of hers appears in Made Priceless by H.L. Hix, and she is interviewed in Everyday Book Marketing by Midge Raymond. Her blog, SavvyVerse & Wit is a literary review blog and home to the Virtual Poetry Circle. She also is the co-founder of the blog War Through the Generations and owner of Poetic Book Tours. Poetic Book Tours is an online virtual book tour marketing firm for small press authors of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.
- JHG: Serena, you’ve been running your book blog, Savvy Verse & Wit, for some years. Why do you do it? What is the most satisfying part of it?
- Serena: I’ve been blogging about books, poetry, and writing since 2007. I started talking about individual poems I read in literary magazines because I felt like others should be reading poetry, too. I think that the genre is often overlooked or even avoided by readers because they have this perception that it is too hard to understand.Then I fell into a book blogging community and received some encouragement from one blogger, Dewey, who has since passed away. She encouraged me to take part in the community and share my thoughts on books, which I did. Since then, I’ve interacted with men and women throughout the world and shared thoughts on books and poems, and even connected with some who write their own fiction and poetry. That, to me, is the most satisfying part of book blogging – the connections.
- JHG: You’re offering a service now to authors and publishers to help them put together a book blog tour. Can you tell us a little bit about that, and the benefits that a book blog tour can have?
- Serena: I started Poetic Book Tours at the end of 2014, and my first book blog tours are rolling out this month. When someone wants to create an online book blog tour, we agree on a number of stops for the tour and a mix of reviews, guest posts, and interviews for that tour.Not only do these blog tours give writers more time to work on their writing projects because they are not traveling from bookstore to bookstore and state to state, but they also are able to connect with their readers in an environment that has fewer pressures and constraints on time. Readers and authors can communicate with one another on the blog. It also gives authors a chance to explain their work and inspirations, which many readers are eager to learn about.The costs of an online book tour are far less than traveling on a traditional book tour, and also provide an opportunity to connect with readers on a global scale through the blogs and their social media contacts.
- JHG: How would you say an online book blog tour compares to a “real life in person” book tour in terms of sales, benefits, etc. (besides it being a lot less tiring for the author!)?
- Serena: As I’ve just started my tour company, I can only tell you what I’ve learned from my own experience as a book blogger with an affiliate association to Amazon. When readers buy books through the Amazon links on my blog, Savvy Verse & Wit, I can see an immediate sale or even sales a few weeks down the road. These links help me see which books are being purchased because of my reviews, but even those who do not buy through Amazon will often comment that they ordered a book I reviewed through their local bookstore.While online book tours are less costly and time consuming for the author – definite benefits for authors who also have other full-time work – online tours allow them to reach a wider audience, and through tailored packages, they can reach target groups. For instance, poets can reach poetry readers – those who already read poetry – while at the same time, expose new readers to poetry.
- JHG: As a reviewer yourself, what makes you interested in a certain book, or what raises the chances a book might be featured on your blog?
- Serena: I have very eclectic tastes, and I love deadlines. I’m probably an anomaly in terms of liking deadlines. I want stories that have not only a unique plot and characters, but also tend to touch me on an emotional or intellectual level.Covers have to be engaging right from the start because honestly, covers that are very blah do not entice me to read the synopsis, which means the synopsis for those books has to be extremely compelling.Usually books that automatically get considered are those written by authors I’ve read before and loved, poetry, and fiction set during WWI, WWII, and the Vietnam War. I also love books about different countries and cultures, and I’d love to see more about Portugal rather than Spain, for instance. I will read mysteries, but they have to be more than plot driven, unless I’m already invested in the characters from previous books. I am also big on reading translations.
- JHG: Any advice for poets as they go about trying to get publicity for their new books?
- Serena: I think poets have a harder time getting coverage, especially in the mainstream media. Beyond that, I think book blogs are a great place to find some decent coverage that will reach an audience interested in new poetry.My first recommendation is to ask poets where they have had coverage for their books in the past, and start with those places. Start looking around the Internet for book blogs, and check the archives of their reviews to see if they have ever featured poetry. If that seems like a little too much effort, they could always check out an online book blog tour company, like Poetic Book Tours.JHG: Thanks for the interview, Serena, and good luck with your new venture!
Yesterday I had to run some errands, and on the way I stopped by Open Books, my favorite all-poetry bookstore in Seattle. Though it is a few days before The Robot Scientist’s Daughter officially debuts, I was very happy to see my book on their shelf. It makes it feel official, like, I have a real book!
It looks like early spring in Seattle, which is a few degrees warmer than where I live now. As we drove through the streets, I saw magnolia, forsythia, crabapple, and these pink cherry blossoms:
One reason (besides the hunt for a dentist) I’ve been too busy to notice these things is because we’ve been getting our house ready to sell, which for us, means cleaning, packing, donating and consigning boxes of clothes, books, magazines, and other stuff, taking down shelves, repainting scratches or filling in holes from picture hooks. It also means looking at houses to buy, trying to decide what our price range really is and what neighborhoods we’d look in. The Seattle real estate market is a pricey one, and often, over the past fifteen years or so, has limited our options. We did find a small house we liked, and today we’re making an official offer! No guarantee it will be accepted, but it’s a step!
Thanks to Christine at Autumn Sky Poetry for featuring a poem from The Robot Scientist’s Daughter up today! (Click here to order your signed copy of the book if you haven’t already! The release date is a mere ten days away!)
So, besides getting ready for a book to launch – updating mailing lists, sending out postcards, updating Amazon and Goodreads author pages, arranging readings, setting up summer conference and residency teaching gigs – I’m still trying to find a dentist who is not afraid to work on my fillings (two hopeful new options – one holistic, the other a high-tech dental type, neither of whom can see me til March), trying to buy and sell a house (going from a two-story townhouse to a one-story regular house), and working at starting up a business of writing, editing, and (spoiler alert) PR for poetry book services with Kelly Davio. Oh, and I’m applying for low-residency teaching jobs and a couple of writer’s residencies, too. (Finding a writer’s residency to accommodate someone who needs a kitchen because of multiple food allergies and can’t do stairs/ladders? More difficult that you might think!)
My friend Kelli had an excellent post on the dangers of being over-busy, of figurative and metaphorical crashes. I think that often we writers, being freelance, struggle with saying no, with giving ourselves boundaries and not feeling like we have to do and be everywhere because we don’t have offices we check in and out of – we are basically on the clock all the time. This problem becomes compounded when things like health, family obligations, etc., start stacking up commitments we can’t get out of. I looked at my last two months and saw “too much” time being eaten up with stuff that doesn’t really matter to me and isn’t any fun, and “too little” time (I’m putting quotes because really, we’re the ones who decide what is too much and too little) doing the stuff that does matter – visiting with loved ones and friends, writing, sending out work, celebrating small joys. So no wonder I’ve felt cranky, uninspired, and isolated. That is the result of a life of complications and commitments, of digesting bad news and spending too much time doing things you have to do and not enough time doing things you want to do. Yes, we all have obligations we can’t get out of – but we have to try to prioritize doing things that give us happiness and comfort too.
So here’s to a better balancing act, starting now, in a year of commotion, change, celebrations and starting new adventures.