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Interview with Author Tad Crawford

JR: A Floating Life is receiving rave reviews. For those who have not heard of it yet, what’s it about?

TC: As the readers’ reviews on Amazon and BN.com suggest, A Floating Life is an unforgettable, inventive, and often amusing ride that entices the reader to enter a fantastical world of multiple journeys.

A nameless narrator awakens to the muddle of middle age, no longer certain who or what he is. He finds himself at a party talking to a woman he doesn’t know who proves to be his wife. Soon separated from her but still living in the same apartment, he is threatened by a litigious dachshund and saddled with a stubborn case of erectile dysfunction in a world that seems held together by increasingly mercurial laws and elusive boundaries.

His relationship deepens with an elderly Dutch model maker named Pecheur whose miniature boats are erratically offered for sale in a hard-to-find shop called The Floating World. Enlivened by Pecheur’s dream to tame the destructive forces of nature, the narrator begins to find his bearings.

A Floating Life charts its course among images that surprise and disorient, such as a job interview in a steam room with a one-eyed, seven-foot chef, innumerable bears living in caves in Central Park, and the narrator’s breast feeding of the baby he has birthed. Kirkus Reviews aptly commented, “At times Crawford seems to be channeling Kafka or Borges . . . Odd. Offbeat. Strangely shimmering.”

JR: Your novel has been described as everything from a science fiction piece to magical realism to a detective story, if you were to boil it down to one genre, what would you say?

TC: The genre is literary fiction. A Floating Life seeks to probe the human condition and bear witness to the narrator’s denials, challenges, and halting steps to move forward. The novel might appeal to those who love authors such as Franz Kafka, García Márquez, and Haruki Murakami.

JR: With so much being put out there in the marketplace, why do you think that readers should give A Floating Life a chance?

TC: A Floating Life offers, I believe, a unique reading experience. It asks the reader to abandon preconceptions, embrace startling images, and embark with the narrator on his strange journey into the world and his own depths. And, as many readers have said, it’s fun to let go and take the roller coaster ride!

JR: How long did it take you to write it and what do you have in the works next? 

TC: This novel took two years to write. My next novel will play with the myth of Gyges in telling the story of a man who fears that others do not see him. His suffering, begun in his earliest infancy, leads to terrible transgressions that may be beyond his power to heal in others or in himself.

JR: You decided to go with a small publisher instead of a large one, what advantages did they offer?

TC: Arcade Publishing is an excellent, storied house (which has published five novels by the new Nobel Prize winner, Mo Yan). I received encouragement, in depth editorial suggestions, marvelous copy editing, and a vigorous promotional effort to launch A Floating Life. I can’t imagine having a better experience.

JR: How did your legal background play into your novel?

TC: Some of the dialog probably benefits from the Socratic Method that all law students suffer through in their courses. The absurd humor of some passages in the novel may be fueled by a reaction against the rationality favored in a legal education. And a lawsuit can be a metaphor for a process that moves a person from one venue to another in life. So the narrator is legalistic when he accuses a dachshund that has crossed a property line of “trespassing”. The dachshund, after some repartee, responds in kind by saying, “I brought the lawsuit against you for your own good.” The narrator is horrified to think how the lawsuit may cause “painful hours of preparation and years passed in uncertainty.” But in our passages through life, these painful hours and years of uncertainty are inevitable and sometimes healing.

JR: With the new landscape of ePublishing, what advice do you have for authors bursting on to the scene and those reinventing their careers?

TC: A decade ago many publishing pundits bruited the arrival of ePublishing and the radical transformation about to occur. Now ePublishing is really here. It’s visible in the excellence of the eReaders, the increasing revenue generated by ebook sales, the fact that ebooks are constantly growing as a percentage of copies sold, and of course the digitization of so many stages of book production and promotion.

“Platform” is now a requirement for authors. If the author can’t offer some way to aid the publisher’s sales, the publisher will be hesitant to sign up a book. This inevitably leads authors to the social media in order to reach larger communities and ultimately generate sales. An interesting facet of the requirement that authors have a platform is that it somewhat levels the playing field between authors and publishers. If an author can sell books, self-publishing becomes far more possible as an option. However, the ideal scenario is usually acceptance by an established publisher that acts as a gatekeeper for quality and can generate a certain level of sales that will be augmented by the efforts of the author.

My advice for an author is to weigh whether a platform would help his or her book/career. If it would, the author should start building that platform as soon as possible (and even long before the book contract is signed or the manuscript delivered). If the platform can encompass candor, humor, friendship, and creativity, so much the better!

 

Ask Jeff! My New Advice Column

Do you have a question related to publishing, ePublishing, landing agent, online marketing or anything else related to accomplishing your goals? Ask me below!

 

Here is where I will answer all your questions to the best of my ability.  I’m committed to answering people’s questions at least once a week.

 

I no longer give private advice without setting up a consultation because I receive so many requests, I could write a book!

 

I have also found that often times what people want is just a hearing ear and they end up doing whatever they want in the end anyway.  Not a problem but if I’m going to give time away from my family or my novels, then I have to make sure the people I give advice to are 100% committed. And nothing rings of commitment like a consultation payment.

 

If you do not have the budget for a consultation, I totally understand, that’s why I’ve created Ask Jeff!  This way, everyone can benefit from your question and it costs you absolutely nothing for me to answer.

 

If you really believe your question is private, feel free to contact me at Jeff AT JeffRivera DOT com to set up a consultation.  My rates are fairly reasonable.

CJ Lyons — “Buy a book, make a difference”

New York Times bestselling novelist, CJ Lyons, may not work in the ER anymore, but through her writing, she continues to save lives. This year, Lyons is making contributions to charities such as St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, Doctors Without Borders, and the American Heart Association, and it’s up to her fans to determine the amount.

When any of her novels reaches the Amazon or Barnes & Noble top 100, she will donate $3000 to charity and double that donation if her book makes it into the top 20. Her donation will rise to $15,000 if the book makes the USA Today or New York Times bestseller list. Additionally, she is using proceeds from her novels to sponsor police officers from underserved areas to receive special training at the Sirchie Forensic Institution. Lyons has not set a cap on the annual donations, so the amount is truly left in readers’ hands.

“As an author, I love writing, but as a doctor, I miss helping patients,” Lyons said. “Through the Buy a Book, Make a Difference program I can give something back while also giving my readers a chance to get involved. I wouldn’t have the success I have without my readers. They’re the real heroes.”

Giving a helping hand is in Lyons’s blood. Trained in Pediatric Emergency Medicine, she has assisted police and prosecutors with cases involving child abuse, rape, homicide, and Munchausen by Proxy. She has worked in numerous trauma centers, on the Navajo reservation, as a crisis counselor, victim advocate, as well as a flight physician for Life Flight and Stat Medevac.

Lyons’ interest in the power of forensics began when she was a pediatric intern. While working at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, a fellow intern was murdered during a brutal home invasion. His killer was apprehended thanks to a piece of forensic evidence. After becoming a New York Times bestseller, Lyons set up a scholarship program to help police officers attend the Sirchie Forensic Institution, where they will learn the skills needed to solve similar crimes.

Millions of readers are already hooked on CJ Lyons and her books have hit dozens of bestseller lists. But now, buying one of her books will do more than provide readers with a good story. It will help save lives. In the first week after her latest thriller, KILL ZONE, was released Lyons and her readers raised $3,000 for charities and three forensic scholarships via her Buy a Book, Make a Difference program. So far this year, Lyons and her readers have raised $12,000 and funded six forensic scholarships.

Visit http://cjlyons.net/buy-a-book-make-a-difference for more information.

More Good News on Write the Damn Thing!

WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING:

“Divine idea!”  — Jennifer Daugherty, Executive Assistant to Jackie Collins

“Oh, my God, this is ingenious!!!” — ReShonda Tate Billingsley, bestselling author

“Invaluable because procrastination is to constantly tempting and easy — and not just for writers. ” — Natasha Kern, literary agent

“For  newbie writers definitely a  good concept and product.” — Bill Gladstone, literary agent and bestselling author of “The Twelve”

To download the latest version, click here: http://bit.ly/SmzIT1

THANK YOU SO MUCH!

I am so grateful to be receiving such great feedback on the new software program. I’m also grateful for the very patient beta-testers, especially the ones that thought they would have to throw their computers out because they couldn’t get them to work properly after they installed the program.

 

Thank God, 98% of all those problems are all resolved with the new software update.

I still need feedback so we can make it better, so please private message me if you need to reach me.

 

Remember, if you have ANY issues with your software, please read this to find out how to fix it and how to reach me if you absolutely need to:

http://jeffrivera.com/archives/introducing-write-the-damn-thing-beta-mode/

 

Also, thanks to the wonderful people who have been spreading word about it.  Some people might wonder why I don’t make the program free forever, not just the 7-days?

Good question: 1) I’ve found that people don’t value anything unlesss they’ve paid something for it and I don’t want people to just download it, I want them to use it and love it.

 

Also, I want to make sure that I pay my programmer for all his hard work and my for putting up with my diva antics!

Remember, private message me if you have anything you need.

 

And YES, a Mac version is on its way. Hopefully about a month from now.

I use this program myself! So, if you see me online, that’s because I did my word-count.

 

I’m on my way home back  from NYC dealing with Hurricane Sandy; so sorry if I didn’t get back to everyone immediately like I normally do. What an event! I’m so grateful for my life, health and the loving support I’ve received from people.