Great Review of Secret Rivers at Today’s Book of Poetry

What a nice surprise today when Evening Street Press, the publisher of my chapbook Secret Rivers, shared this review from the blog Today’s Book of Poetry! Michael Dennis mentions a lot of things that I think were really central to this book, and which I hoped readers would pick up on. I’m beyond flattered and thrilled to be featured in this way.

His post even has video from a reading in Columbus this winter. I’m camera-shy and haven’t watched it myself but thought I’d point it out in case you’re curious and would like to put a face and an actual voice with the written voice you’ve “heard” here.

Many thanks to Michael for showcasing Secret Rivers and making my day!

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My First Chapbook Is Here!

 

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It’s sitting right next to me on the couch, in fact. Shouldn’t it be next to you — or in your hot little hands? Here are a few ways you can make that happen:

  1. Order it from the fabulous Evening Street Press (where you should also order some of the other chapbooks, and their Review),
  2. Order it from Amazon, or
  3. Email me here: marilyn [dot] cavicchia [at] gmail [dot] com.

If you go for option #3, I’ll even autograph it for you — for FREE. I’ll spring for the postage, too, and then at some point, you mail me $10.

What sort of poetry is in Secret Rivers? It’s made up of persona poems in which the speakers are either driving or riding in vehicles on a particular stretch of highway in Ohio. I didn’t start out with any particular intention, but because of the area I was describing, a narrative thread emerged that deals with fracking (hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas). My opinions of this practice are probably clear, but I tried to be balanced and respectful, and to let all my personas have their say — whether they agree with me or not.

I hope you’ll enjoy Secret Rivers. And if you happen to live in Chicago or Columbus, watch this space for news about upcoming readings.

 

 

 

 

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Advice: How Do You Promote a Chapbook?

So, any day now (well, probably around June 1), my chapbook Secret Rivers will come out, from the fabulous Evening Street Press. (Oh, hey, and it’s available for preorder there.) From any of you who have done one of these before, I could use some promotion tips. I don’t want it to just lie there, but here’s the thing: I’m reeeeeally introverted and not given to self-promotion — despite all my blah-blah here and on Facebook and Twitter. Do I walk into my neighborhood bookstore and ask them to stock a few, or is this just “not done” — like, so “not done” that I’ll be laughed out of the store? Not really … but you know what I mean.

Also, I could swear I saw something here on WordPress about bloggers who are authors with things currently out. Does anyone know what I mean, and how I go about telling them, “Me, too?” Also, here is a stupid WordPress question that might vary a lot depending on what theme you use: How do I put the cover image somewhere on my blog, with info on how to order, so that it lives there until I decide it’s no longer needed? (Which would be “never,” or until it sells out — whichever comes first.)

I know I need to line up a reading or two — and this will involve (erk) talking to people and asking if I can do this at their space. I’m on this part. Sort of.

But I keep thinking that there may be other great ways to promote a chapbook, and I’m just not thinking of them. I do not want to fall down in the hustle department. So … How do you promote a chapbook, anyway? Thanks for any ideas!

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A Brief Pause for Some News about My Chapbook

Hello … If I may step away from the NaPoWriMo poems for a moment, I’d like to let you know about some big progress on the chapbook front.

You might recall that my chapbook Secret Rivers received the 2013 Helen Kay Chapbook Prize from the fabulous Evening Street Press. It now has a cover photo and an author photo and everything, and is due out in June — and it’s available for preorder here! You’ll need to indicate which chapbook you want, mine or the finalist’s — but of course, you really want both. 🙂 I’ve ordered Lucia May’s Blond Boy and look forward to reading it.

That’s all for now … Tomorrow is NaPoWriMo Day 15 — hard to believe, isn’t it?

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Big News: My First Chapbook Comes out This Summer

You might recall that from time to time over the past year or so, I’ve mentioned that I was having trouble cracking the chapbook nut. Last winter, I put together a manuscript that I really liked, and I kept entering it in various contests, and it kept getting turned down.

One evening in January of this year, I got a phone call. I expected it would be yet another robocall from my kids’ school about an emergency closing due to excessive cold. So I was only half-listening when Gordon Grigsby from Evening Street Press started leaving a message. Wait … what? This is not how rejections usually arrive. I’ve received plenty of rejections in plenty of ways — but never a rejection phone call. So …?

I leaped up, picked up the phone … and accidentally hung up on Gordon. Fortunately, he called right back — with news that my chapbook, Secret Rivers, was the 2013 winner of the Evening Street  Press Helen Kay Chapbook Prize.

The funny thing is, I had just reached a point where I was starting to reevaluate my approach with Secret Rivers. Instead of entering it in contests, should I just focus on trying to find a good publisher for it, even without a prize? I believe I vented about this both here and on Facebook — and I know that a couple of blogger friends said they felt like this would be my year, and a few Facebook friends offered encouragement, one of them saying she had her fingers crossed. And that’s when I got that call.

I waited a while to announce it here because I knew Evening Street Press had plans to announce it as well, and I didn’t want to step on those plans or catch any other entrants by surprise. But now they’ve announced it on their Facebook page and in an ad in the current issue of Poets & Writers, so I’m in the clear.

Seven of the poems will be in the upcoming spring issue of Evening Street Press Review, and the chapbook will be published sometime over the summer (I’ll keep you posted on that). I’m now lining up back-cover blurbs, considering whether I want to thank anyone (how do you choose?), trying to think of a good image for the cover, and steeling myself to have an author photo taken (my best photos are are all cellphone selfies). It’s all really exciting work, and I can’t believe this is happening.

Evening Street Press is such a great fit for Secret Rivers, for a number of reasons. First, it is known not only for its high-quality work and the great care with which it showcases it, but also for its focus on equal rights and social justice, and on spotlighting current barriers to those. When I started writing Secret Rivers, I didn’t intend for it to be a political piece, but the issue of fracking found its way in and then would not be denied.

Another thing I find really satisfying is the “home” connection. I live in Chicago, but I went to high school in a suburb of Columbus, and my dad still lives there. In back-and-forth during the submission process, it came out that Gordon and his wife (and managing editor) Barbara Bergmann live just up the road from my dad. I’ve probably driven right past their house.

Also, Secret Rivers is set in a lightly fictionalized version of Belmont County, Ohio, where fracking is now a huge issue of concern or opportunity — depending on whom you ask. Don’t get me wrong: Evening Street Press is limitless in its geographic scope. In fact, its 2012 Helen Kay prize went to Lynn Veach Sadler’s Mola … Person, which incorporates the anthropology and history of the San Blas islands off Colombia and Panama. Still, I find it so pleasing that my Ohio chapbook ended up coming home to Ohio to be published.

To Evening Street Press, and to anyone who has shared words of encouragement as Secret Rivers struggled to find its home: Thank you! And for anyone else who is trying to place a chapbook and is hanging in there despite rejections: I’m keeping my fingers crossed, and may this be your year, too.

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What’s my Next Big Thing? (And what’s yours?)

Many thanks to fabulous poet Jennifer Bullis for tagging me to be part of The Next Big Thing Blog Hop, which means I get to spotlight a current writing project of mine via a series of interview questions. Here’s my Q&A:

1. What is the title of your book? Is it a working title?

My chapbook is called Drivers and Passengers, which is definitely a working title. It expresses the concept, but it might be a little flat. I also have poems in the voice of a cloud and a crow, so I suppose I could be arty and call it Drivers, Passengers, Cloud & Crow (could—but probably will not). I meant to also have the road itself and a hillside, but these didn’t quite come off. If I decide to revisit that idea, I definitely, definitely think I should add those to the title, too. I like to use all the letters! I also briefly considered In Cars—yes, from the Gary Numan song—but it sounds a little too clever to me, and it suggests the ‘80s, whereas the narrative poems in this chapbook are set in the present day.

2. Where did the idea for your book come from?

I’ve attempted chapbooks many times, but it’s always been an after-the-fact deal where I look through poems that I like a lot and try to wrestle them into a theme. I’ve never gotten one published. So this time, I decided to actually follow the advice to write around a fairly focused theme from the outset. We were on a road trip when I began thinking along these lines, and I started to think about all the cars around us and how all the people in them have stories that I’ll never know. That concept has intrigued me ever since I was a kid.

3. Who and/or what inspired you to write your book?

Because these are realistic, narrative poems, I wanted to write about people in cars on an actual road and let some of the geographic details and local issues come into play. We happened to be driving on I-70 in Ohio at the time, in an area where fracking is both a boon to the economy and a concern for the environment. Some of that entered in, and some of the personas borrow from actual viewpoints I’ve heard. I tried to be respectful to everyone and also muddy things a bit so there’s no direct resemblance to any real people I know and love.

4. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Exactly one month, which I think is a great time frame for a chapbook. Between two-pagers and some cases where I wrote two poems in one day, I ended up with just enough extra that I now have the luxury of focusing on what I think are the 24 to 28 best pages. Also, it felt like just enough time to let things develop without getting maybe a little too hung up on the project and unable to put it down.

5. What genre does your book fall under?

Poetry. Specifically, narrative persona poetry.

6. What books [I’m going to amend this slightly] would you compare yours to in your chosen genre?

There are so many great persona poems, but the one that first comes to mind is Robert Browning’s “My Last Duchess.” I read this in college, and it knocked me on my ear to learn that poems, too, could have unreliable narrators. If you want a concentrated dose of contemporary narrative poetry—some with personas—I recommend Naugatuck River Review (and not just because I was in one issue).

7. What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Many people who are not the poet herself drive around and ponder things.

8. Do you have a publisher, or will you self-publish your book or seek representation?

Seeking a publisher, for sure. My plan is to polish this up and enter it in a couple of spring contests.

9. What actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie or to read your work for a recording?

I’m so bad at this game! I think one of the personas could be played by Channing Tatum if he went kind of down-market (and also didn’t take his shirt off). Leighton Meester could play one of the young women because I understand her upbringing was pretty hardscrabble. Frances McDormand might be in there somewhere, and I’ve seen less “done” photos of Patricia Heaton that remind me of one persona in particular. (You should know, by the way, that other than Frances McD, I first thought of these actors as Magic Mike guy, Gossip Girl … girl, and the lady from Everybody Loves Raymond.)

10. What else about your book might pique readers’ interest?

Watch in wonder as the shape-shifting poet BECOMES MORE THAN TWO DOZEN DIFFERENT PEOPLE!

And now I’m supposed to tag three to five other writers to answer these interview questions next. But … I’ve been asking around and haven’t found anyone who wants to take this on! You should know that: a) the writing can be in any genre, and b) the “book” concept can be loosened so that it applies to any big project you’d like to highlight. Any takers? (Three to five of them, perhaps?) Please let me know in the comments. Thanks!

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Are You Writing a Book? Seeking Blog Hop Participants

Hello, friends, followers, likers, and lurkers …

The fabulous poet and blogger Jennifer Bullis, whom I “met” during last year’s NaPoWriMo, recently tagged me for a project called Blog Hop: The Next Big Thing. This is intended for those of us who have books we’re working on, shopping around, or getting ready to publish. It’s open to writers of poetry and prose, and chapbooks count — that’s what I’ll be highlighting in my own Next Big Thing post, on February 12.

In addition to answering a few interview questions, each participant is supposed to tag three to five writers to participate as well. That’s where you come in.

I know that many or most of you with whom I cross paths in the blogosphere, and especially through Open Link Night, are writers. What I don’t know is which of you have a book in the works. If that’s you, please let me know in the comments here.

Also, here’s a little “honor system” request: I believe the spirit of the exercise is that we’re calling attention to writers with whom we’ve had some interaction so that we’re saying, “Here are these great writers I know, and they’re going to tell you what they’re working on.” So I’d like to prioritize people with whom I’ve exchanged comments in the past — or at least, mutual “likes.”

I think everything should be pretty clear from Jennifer’s post (thanks again for tagging me, Jennifer!), but I can answer any questions you might have.

If I end up with more than five potential “taggees,” I’ll think of another way to highlight the writers I’m not able to include in this project.

OK … Tag — you’re it?

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