• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies When I set out to learn about my mother's bridge club, the Jewish octogenarians behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, their gen, and the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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Everybody Wants to Rule the World

When I pitched my first project, I developed a rash that did not abate until I sold it. The rash went from my hand up to my upper arm. The same thing happened with the next, and the next, and the one after that. My husband feared that all my commission was going to the dermatologist. (All but for that one little pair of Prada Maryjanes, that is.) Fast forward ten years. Here I am pitching two books today and my skin is positively glowing.

Still, there is the first pitch call, working out the kinks, finding the sweet spot. Plus, some books pitch themselves, especially if the hook is in the title, if in a second or two the editor can grasp the whole project. (In other words, kill yourself getting the right title and subtitle.) Bottom line: it’s the read, but just like the browser in the bookstore, the editor has to want to read your project first because there is something so compelling about it, hooked perhaps by the title or the first line, page, paragraph, chapter. Like we used to say in the operating room when I was Atul Gawande’s  surgical supervisor, and no I did not approve of his listening to They Might Be Giants while doing heart transplants, we used to say: we’re in.

6 Responses

  1. Yes you can!!!! You’ll do it; I know it.

    Miracles
    by: Walt Whitman

    Why, who makes much of a miracle?
    As to me, I know of nothing else but miracles,
    Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
    Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,
    Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of the water,
    Or stand under trees in the woods,
    Or talk by day with anyone I love, or sleep in the bed at night with anyone I love,
    Or sit at table at dinner with the rest,
    Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,
    Or watch honey bees busy around the hive of a summer forenoon,
    Or animals feeding in the fields,
    Or birds, or the wonderfulness of insects in the air,
    Or the wonderfulness of the sundown, or of stars shining so quiet and bright,
    Or the exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring;
    These with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles,
    The whole referring, yet each distinct and in its place.

    To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
    Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,
    Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the same,
    Every foot of the interior swarms with the same.

    To me the sea is a continual miracle,
    The fishes that swim–the rocks–the motion of the waves–the ships with the men in them,
    What stranger miracles are there?

    From “Leaves of Grass”, 1900
    List all poems from “Leaves of Grass”

  2. Your pitch calls: I wish I was on your party line. Or could I just pay you to listen in? Pleeeeeeze?

    Titles: Point taken. With chagrin.

    I got the title of my last book (ha ha. That’s me, being pretentious. It’s my first and only) from an obscure poem by an obscure Manx poetess. You can only go to that well so many times…

    So now I’m looking for that title that becomes a watch word. The Perfect Storm. Catch-22. Sophie’s Choice. How hard can that be?

  3. How about, Ben Watching. Would it have to have a subtitle, too?

  4. Dear god I want those shoes.

  5. Nobody pitches better. Also, nobody lets me get away with less – I’m still laughing (or do I mean cringing) about our yoga conversation a week later!

  6. […] third. Last week, two literary agents blogged about having an effective, grabbing title (here and here) and I realized my titles weren’t […]

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