Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Fatal Gift of Beauty arrives--amidst the usual turmoil

So, The Fatal Gift of Beauty and Other Plays by Christopher E. Ellis is finally available. Order your copy now from your favorite bookseller. (Amazon has a great discount on it right now, no pressure.)

So the book that would not be published is now published and I would have blogged about it last week, but I had another bout of computer woes. A virus attacked me. It was ugly. I'm still getting things put back together. So much was lost. I try not to think about it.

But The Fatal Gift of Beauty is published. Have you ordered your copy yet? What are you waiting for?

Let's see, what else . . .

Clearly, I'm in a rambling mood . . .

Here's something that I find interesting and unexplainable. As I may have mentioned some months ago, I dipped my toe into this publishing venture with a self-published collection of short pieces I wrote nearly ten years ago for my then home congregation (First English Lutheran Church, Austin, TX). Named after the church's newsletter (The Echoes) and the fact that I wrote for it for 3 years (36 months), Thirty-Six Echoes was a hodgepodge of writings and styles. It is some of my very earliest "serious" writing and as such, I see some places where I've grown, and I see some places that are still some of my best writing. It's probably wrong, but I'm still quite pleased with the line, " . . . and like the travelers on the way to Emmaus, you wish you had paid more attention."

Well, this odd little book (with pieces that were republished in places like The Door and anthologized just pages away from Frederick Buechner in A Voice of Many Waters (I think that anthology is still availably, I'm not sure . . . it was edited by Kay Snodgrass) was sort of created and set aside. I didn't market it because it has all the earmarks of a self-published book---disparate content, quickly and a bit carelessly typeset pages, some design choices I wouldn't make now---and it really was created just to see how it was done. I was gearing up for Able to... and I didn't want to experiment on strangers' work.

But last week, suddenly 6 copies were sent out from my distributor. I have no idea to where or why. I have a slightly unlikely suspicion, but I may never know for sure. It's as if a bookstore was ordering stock of the book. Or someone was buying it for gifts for a group. Very odd. Pleasing, but odd. Unexpected, at least.

Then, there is the copy I had at the bookstore where I'm employed. They had let me order in a couple just to see if it would sell. Well, we sold a couple of copies, and I know who bought them and it was sort of people supporting me because they're nice people. One last copy sat on the shelf for a very long time, though and I suspected I would be buying it myself one day. Except it sold last Saturday. I don't know who bought it or why. But it's gone. And it's kind of cool.

This is, I'm sure, just a strange hiccup. It's certainly not a sign that this little practice book is "catching on" or anything. But it's strange that I watched 7 copies move last week and so far as I know, they didn't go to someone just being nice to me.

Let's hope this carries over to my other published works . . .

That's enought rambling tonight. Next time, I'll talk a bit about what I've read recently. I haven't done that in a while.

Until then . . .

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Still, the Life of a Publisher, Workshops

Still, the Life of a Publisher (or WHEW!)

I got the new proof of Chistopher E. Ellis' Fatal Gift of Beauty and Other Plays. It looks good. I've approved the proof, and it should go into production directly. Amazon still isn't listing it, but has been listing it for weeks now. Order there, or at your favorite local store. Amazon should be listing it in a week or two (hopefully sooner).

Chicago residents should watch for signings by Christopher, as we get those set up.

I think that's all I have to say about that today.


The creative writing workshops that I've been holding this summer have gone well enough to encourage me to continue them in the fall. September 10th, to be exact. So if you're in Houston, want an inexpensive writers workshop, contact me. neo (at) neonuma (dot) com.

I've set a few other things in motion in the last week or so. Watch for more announcements soon.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Life of Publisher and other thoughts

Life of a Publisher (or AARRRGH!)

Okay, so The Fatal Gift of Beauty and Other Plays by Christopher E. Ellis (which I name and attribute in full each time to increase search engine hits or something, I think) went to the printer. They sent a proof of the book last week Thursday, overnight. Due to it being sent overnight (and I having among the wonkiest schedules on the planet) I finally got my overnight package today---Wednesday. Only a week.

So today, I open the package and I have to say the cover looks great. I'm really really pleased with it. The colors work, the typeface works, the potentially cheesy fade of a color works. In fact, you can find the cover by searching for the book on

But I digress. This is a tale of woe, or at least a tale of AARRRGH!

I turn to the title page. The picture that is supposed to be there isn't. In fact the wrong picture is there. And the type for the title has shifted so that the "and other plays" got cut off.

And just flipping through randomly, I've already found two other places where the type has shifted, creating other problems.

I probably didn't put enough R's in my AARRRGH!

This means I have to really go over this with a fine tooth comb. And try to figure out why this happened with the printer.

Now, I've used this printer a couple of times before and I've had nothing but positive experiences with them, so I'm hoping fixing these problems will become positive.

But tonight, at 1:00am, it begins to feel like this is the book that would not be published.

But it will. It will. One way or another.

Other thoughts

Last post, I tried changing font size between headers and paragraphs, as I'm doing this time. For some reason, a lot of the text ended up really big throughout. I tried several times to edit the size and it kept publishing at the really big size. I hope this post does better. I didn't really like the way it looked. Maybe I'm just having a bad summer for publishing.

The workshops I started last month is going pretty well, and there's been enough interest generated to suggest that it behooves me to continue. Pending agreement with the owners of the space, I'll do just that in September. Stay tuned.

I'm putting out feelers for other types of workshops, as well. I guess I'm in my workshop building phase of growing neoNuma Arts. The publishing is moving along (sort of), so I guess this is the next logical step. Who's up for a weekend creativity retreat? That's probably a goal for 2008.

Oh, yes, I'm planning/coordinating/facilitating what will be a one-day Houston author festival at Barnes and Noble, 5000 Westheimer, Houston. If you're a Houston author with a book or two published--or know one--email me (neo at neonuma dot com) for details as they develop. It's going to be on Saturday, November 17. There will be readings and signings and such goings on. It'll be a good time. Plan on it. If you're near Houston, anyway.

Fieldwork begins in September, too. September 26, in fact. I'll be facilitating that series, too. Email me for more info on that, as well.

This past Sunday, during the offering, I had the honor of singing a hymn composed by Patricia Blaze Clark and Kathleen Thomerson. Pat is a classmate of mine from my seminary days, and it was a delight to sing her words. She's been making a name for herself in hymn writing circles. Her biggest gig was probably having a couple of hymns included in a recent Episcopal hymnal supplement--I forget the name of it, unfortunately. But Pat has a couple of books out herself. One is strictly hymn texts, with meter noted so you can match it to a tune out of your own hymnal. It is called
The Still Small Voice and is published by Selah Publishing Co. (catalog number 125-441).

The other book, from which I selected our offertory hymn (which is called "Long Before Creation's Dawning"), is called
A Taste of Heaven's Joys. It is published by MorningStar Music Publishers (isbn: 0-944529-39-9). This book is all original hymns by Pat and Kathleen. Kathleen, of course, is quite prominent in modern hymn writing circles, her most popular hymn being "I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light."

Of course, I recommend both books, if you're the sort to buy hymn books.

And I've gone on longer than I meant already, so I'll end for now. Except to note that this year's peaches have been especially good. Has anyone else noticed? Sometimes, I eat one and am amazed at what a gift it is to eat something that is so good and not be bad for me. This is capital G Grace.

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