Issue #107

Free Writers' Newsletter

Feb 27, 2012  



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How I got my book published
An interview with author, James J. Garber

James J. Garber recently acquired a publisher using's database of publishers. We asked him about his writing, and how he found success.

fw: Thank you for taking the time to talk to us, James. Could you tell us a little about the book you recently placed with a publisher?

JJG: The book is called Problem Gods: In Search of a Meaningful Deity. It is about the concept of God, past and present, that offers a new definition or view of God based on modern science including astronomy, relativity and quantum theory. It analyses why our view of God is outdated and needs updating. Our current level of understanding of the Universe, including us humans, demands that we revise our divine vision.


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fw: What made you feel like this was a book that you needed to write?

JJG: Being raised in a Catholic home with a Jewish father, with sixteen years of religious schooling plus a masters in theology and astronomy has led to this expanded vision of God – a God that is more rational and logical yet more mysterious and awe inspiring. Most of my material came out of my astronomy and theology studies plus a lot of reading. Writing nonfiction one needs to know the current literature. It’s okay to have one's views (biases) on a topic but you need to present the other views out there in a fair manner as well.

fw: Have you published anything else previously?

JJG: I have another published nonfiction book (2008).

fw: Do you think that previous track record helped you place this book? Was it with the same publisher?

JJG: I don’t think it made a great difference. I’m an independent scholar without standing in the theological community and the book had to sell on its own merits. My prior publisher didn’t accept this current book because it’s not on their "list". This is the word they use when rejecting a book.

fw: When your first publisher passed on the book, did you think about trying to get an agent to represent it for you?

JJG: I never sought an agent. Both books were strictly through It’s a numbers game. I went through all nonfiction, religious, "liberal" religious publishers. I sent submissions to about 80+ publishers. This included a cover letter, my curriculum vitae and three chapters. Four publishers asked to read the full MS. One accepted it for publication. Last time two accepted the book (it was on ancient and medieval medicine).

fw: Did you try any other methods for placing your book, besides

JJG: I only looked at, though I did consider self-publication as a backup.

fw: And what do you think made effective for you?

JJG: provides a lot of publishers to consider and I could tell whether they might look at a liberal theological topic.

fw: And once you'd found suitable publishers to approach, did you send out lots of copies of your manuscript or take another approach?

JJG: No, I didn’t send out any MS unless they requested one. Lots of letters with CV, three chapters either by mail or email, depending on what they wanted. Lots of rejections from the best publishers in the United States!

fw: How long did you spend sending out queries?

JJG: It took about three months.

fw: And how did you deal with the rejections?

JJG: I smiled a lot and filed all the Harvard’s, Princeton’s and MIT’s. After all, how many people have Harvard letterheads in their files? Most sent pleasant responses. Two sent some very encouraging letters.

fw: Which publisher accepted your book in the end?

JJG: My first was Transaction Publishing and currently it is Bauu Institute and Press.

fw: What do you think was the key to securing that deal?

JJG: The approach to the topic I used in both books was unique. I was very careful about grammar and writing style and my wife and I edited the MS ad nauseum.

fw: How are you finding things now the book has been sold?

JJG: It’s fun. I like marketing, book signings etc. They tamper very little and what they’ve done has been good.

fw: What advice would you give to writers still searching for a publisher?

JJG: Work hard at the book, do a good job on it. Get advice from friends and don’t get discouraged. And if you don’t find a publisher consider self-publishing. I have a friend who self- published initially and now has four additional books in print by bone fide publishers.

fw: So what are your plans for the future?

JJG: The book is out as of February 1st. I’m marketing as best I can and have two more books in the works. I don’t publish in order to make money. I do it because it’s gratifying!

fw: Thank you for your time, James, and best of luck with all your books!



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New website for urban fantasy fiction

A new webzine for fans of the urban fantasy genre, called Urban Fantasist, has just been launched by sf&f author Charles Christian and carries news, interviews, book reviews and blog postings about urban fantasy writing, art and photography.

One of the regular features will be a new flash fiction story published every Friday fortnight selected from submissions to the zine. Called TFi Flash Fortnightly, pieces must be no more than 1,000 words on an urban fantasy, genre-type theme (see for more details).

Another regular column is Eleven Questions, an offbeat interview with an urban fantasy or sci fi personality answering questions such as their preferred time travel destinations and the mechanics of their craft. Jonathan Pinnock is the first "victim" revealing all.

Charles Christian, founder of the zine, also founded the successful Ink Sweat & Tears poetry webzine, and his first collection of dystopian science fiction and urban fantasy short stories This is the Quickest Way Down was published by Salt/Proxima Books at the end of 2011. He is a barrister and Reuters correspondent turned legal journalist, newsletter editor, keynote speaker, blogger, legal IT branding and marketing
consultant, sometime poet, photographer and urban fantasy/science fiction writer.

For more information contact or visit 



Travel writing: take that extra step and go beyond simply documenting your many adventures
By Marcella Simmons

In this new age of laptops, digital cameras and other gizmos, the tools of travel writing have changed markedly – but the challenge remains the same: to present a real to life and vivid documentary of the things you saw, heard and did while on vacation or while just travelling through some town or spot in the woods. It is your view or your reaction to the surroundings around you. When putting it all together for a travel article, it's up to you to bring your readers into the picture and let them feel your reaction as if they were right there beside you. That's why it is so important to go beyond simply documenting your travels. Live them, feel them, and let your readers feel your reaction through your words.

The next time you are going out on an assignment or just going for a weekend getaway, don't forget the digital camera, an ample supply of rechargeable batteries, extra memory cards for picture taking and a purse full of ink pens and purse-size spiral notebooks for note-taking.

When you're actually where you want to be, and start taking photos, write down everything – write down your reaction to the old lady in the window who looked like a witch and kept staring at you as you walked toward the restaurant. Who was she? Why did she look at you as if she had seen a ghost? Why did she look startled when your eyes met hers?

Be observant of your surroundings – and the people you encounter. Write down anything that might be of importance to your upcoming story – don't trust anything to memory. Too much information is way better than not having enough.

Visit local tourist centres and request brochures and travel guides. Take notes in the margins of these brochures when someone emphasises "word-of-mouth" information that's not included in the brochure. Don't be afraid to ask questions about the locals. Find out if there is any history in the area that is noteworthy for a destination travel article. Suppose Jesse James stayed at the historic hotel across the street and they had a room full of memorabilia – his boots, gun and gun belt – other things he may have left behind. There's one angle for your travel story – but dig deeper – what if that hotel is said to be haunted by someone other than Jesse James? Jesse James isn't really enough to get people to travel this far in nowhere country to a small run down hotel simply to see a small room half full of Jesse James memorabilia. You have to dig deeper and find something your readers can get excited about.

Request a room – stay there – hear the creaks and things that go bump in the night – listen for the ghost that haunts the hallway late into the night – did you see anything? Did the hair stand up on your neck when the cold draft of wind from nowhere hurled by you as you were standing in the hall?

Write down the things you saw and heard. How did you feel? Let your readers feel the fear you felt as you were alone on the upper floor of that haunted hotel. Where was everyone else? Why were you all alone? Was it really haunted? Or was it just your imagination from the stories you had heard? Write it and let your readers help you decide whether the haunting was real or not. Did anyone else hear the noises you heard? Who's shadow was it that crept by your doorway just before you shut the door? Who was crying in the hallway after you went in and locked the door? When you opened the door the sound stopped – there was no-one there.

What about that blurred image that kept showing up in some of the photos you took? What was it? Who was it? You didn't see anyone when you were shooting. Creepy, huh?

Write them an article that will entice them to come to that particular place – an old run down hotel with a creepy past ninety miles from nowhere – let them feel your excitement and fear as you crawled back into bed – don't only tell them about the noises you heard coming from the hall late in the night – let them hear the fear as you write especially when you heard the woman scream out in the room next door and you were too afraid to climb out of bed to go see.

It may scare the heck out of some people and they may never want to visit the haunted hotel, but chances are that your story will draw quite a lot of people to that little hotel located in nowhere country just to see for themselves if it were haunted or not. That's what your travel article must do – go beyond documenting the things you learned, the things you saw or heard – your readers must feel the same excitement you do about a place or all the documenting in the world will never lure them to this place – especially if it's ninety miles from nowhere!

In essence, you must present a travel story that goes beyond documentation – it must have real feelings that awe the reader and make them want to visit the place of interest. Leave the dull documentation to the travel brochures and the like.

Bring out the realness and the life of a place and people will be drawn to visit time and time again.

About the author
Marcella Simmons has more than 650 published credits in hundreds of publications including several local newspapers and she is currently working on three romance/suspense novels and a reference guide for writers, while maintaining several travel websites. See World of Travel Writers. Writers are encouraged to submit travel articles on the subject of travel writing to Ms Simmons at


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