Tomorrow night, January 29, starting at 6 PM at the Seattle Central Library in the Microsoft Auditorium, three poets and four artists get together to read poetry, talk about artist collaborations, and generally celebrate a show that brings together art and poetry. Sherman Alexie with Lia Hall and Cedar Mannan of Noble Neon, Daemond Arrindell with Maura Donegan, Carol Milne with Jeannine Hall Gailey. Talk hosted by curator Mary Coss.
And afterward, a reception at Method Gallery where you can check out the art and poetry exhibit in person! That will be immediately following the talk/reading.
I’ll be reading from my upcoming book, The Robot Scientist’s Daughter, and I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy hearing from Sherman Alexie and Daemond Arrindell. Should be fun!
A sneak peek poem from my upcoming book, The Robot Scientist’s Daughter. This one has references to tropes of scientist’s daughters in sci-fi films, including Bladerunner and Killer Shrews. Hope you enjoy!
The Robot Scientist’s Daughter (in Films)
Is always beautiful in films, in a neat blonde updo
and fifties-style dress. She helps the hero escape,
she leads him off the island or planet, she gives him the code
to shut down all the robots before they take over the world.
The robot scientist’s daughter carefully holds on to secrets
about her father at the dinner table. She’s demure but knows
her way around a gun rack or a test tube. She sneaks out
to rescue prisoners after her father has a drink. The robot
scientist’s daughter must be there to humanize
the robot scientist; he is both a protagonist we identify with
and a villain we know must fall. If he had no daughter,
the camera would have no way to enter his laboratory
with a sympathetic eye. Sometimes the robot scientist’s daughter
pretends to be a robot herself, handing out food efficiently
without smudging her makeup. Sometimes she turns out to be a robot
all along implanted with heartwarming but false memories.
Sometimes she has a telepathic link to genetically-engineered dinosaurs. When she was a child, she had only robots to play
games with, mostly hide-and-seek and chess. This helped
and hurt her socialization. The robot scientist might be named Morbius, while his daughter is named Susan. She will be
the downfall, the island crumbling, scientist buried beneath rubble, killer shrews loosed on the world.
And now, for the first time ever, you can pre-order your signed copy of The Robot Scientist’s Daughter! If you do, you may get it before the release date AND get the added bonus of special swag!
Update at 10:30 AM Pacific 1/24: While we figure out why forms won’t work on my web site, I’ve gone back to using PayPal buttons instead of the fancy order form.
You can pre-order a signed copy from me via PayPal here:
If you would rather mail me a check, please e-mail me at jeannine.gailey at live.com and let me know your shipping address.
I’ve been pretty sick the last few days (I almost always get sick after going to the dentist – do you guys experience the same thing?) so while I’ve been trying to use my downtime for something productive.
Kelly Davio posted on poetry and money, and on a related note, I was thinking about how much money it makes sense to spend to help launch your poetry book. The equation is probably something like:
(how much money you have in your savings) + (how much you expect to make) – (what you need for actual life things) = money to spend on your book
Which usually doesn’t leave us with very much to spend, especially small press poets. A trip to AWP? Without university sponsorship, an AWP trip costs you at least $1500, including travel and hotel. Is it worth it to promote your book there? If a university offers you $500 for a reading, but it costs more than $500 to get there, is it worth it? If you spend, say, $50 or $200 on an online ad and you get sixty click-throughs but no sales, was it worth it? Your publisher might split the cost of an ad in Poets & Writers with you. Ah, the math of poetry!
One of the things I did was sign up for a Goodreads Giveaway, starting February 1, for The Robot Scientist’s Daughter.
I love Goodreads and like supporting it, and it’s a relatively inexpensive way to get your book into someone unexpected’s hands. You never know! Feel free to sign up!
I also sent several precious author copies to my talented cover artist in Japan, one to a writer who was nice enough to read and comment on the manuscript for me, and the folks that gave me blurbs, as well as one or two reviewers who had requested them. Since most publishers only put 10 author copies in the contract, that means I’m pretty much out already. Which means every paper copy I send out now costs me money. I have friends who have sent out hundreds of their own copies to friends, reviewers, libraries. The problem is, those friends have often been disappointed by the return-on-investment (or ROI) of those giveaways.
The most expensive thing I’ve ever done to sell books was, hands-down, traveling for readings. How do you know which readings to arrange, to accept invitations to? I also have friends who spent tens of thousands of dollars of their own money to support them as they traveled around the country to support their books. They did sell books, but enough to support the travel? The lucky ones broke even.
This is just Lesson #102, I’ll put up some more entries in this series, like which things have made the most sense to spend money on, and which have not. Also, you can’t count on magic, but it does sometimes happen! I am hoping and praying for some magic to happen this time around.
What about you? Do you have any economic advice for book launches or for poets in general? Any recommendations for creating magic? Leave in the comments!
First, thanks very much to Mythic Delirium for featuring one of my poems in their new issue. They’re one of my fave speculative publications!
Second, you know, I haven’t been taking on new manuscript editing projects for a little while now, and that is because I was developing this idea with Kelly Davio of a tag-team approach to poetry manuscript editing. So now I am proud to announce the grand opening of Gailey and Davio Writers’ Services. One of the big limitations of a single-person edit is that, well, obviously, you are only getting one person’s feedback and point of view, so we thought it would be great to combine our talents and give people the opportunity to get two sets of editors’ eyes on your manuscripts! Not only was Kelly Davio the former managing editor of The LA Review and the current editor of Tahoma Review, she has laser-sharp focus on things like formatting and grammar errors from her many years of teaching. So wish us luck with our new endeavor, and if you’ve got a poetry manuscript ready to make the rounds, contact us!
This week I started running a 101 fever (which could be run-of-the-mill flu or related to the tooth problems) so they’ve got me in tomorrow morning at the “specialty” downtown dentists (who are really hard to get into and a 45-minute drive each way) and hope they can move forward with a plan to fix my crazy tooth! I’m not used to having to take so much downtime for dental work, but I was cheered by watching the episode of 30 Rock where Liz Lemon gets a root canal on Valentine’s Day, and on the pain medication, imagines the dental assistants are her ex-boyfriends and a palm tree is Bon Jovi. Think good thoughts for me! Our briefly sunny skies are giving way to colder drizzle once again, which is, of course, normal for January in Seattle. But it was nice to have a little break.
So, here in January, it’s three months before the official launch of The Robot Scientist’s Daughter, and I keep thinking of things I should be doing/need to be doing/didn’t get to do last week because of the dental emergency stuff. This is my fourth book, so you’d think I’d have this all down, but as you know, things change from year to year and day to day. So the way you have to prepare for a book launch each time is different. E-galleys, for instance, are new this time around—even Publisher’s Weekly takes them now. Another new thing I’m trying is that I’ve put my PR release as a PDF on my book page here.
I’m taking you with me on this journey of things to do at three months, in case some of this might be of interest to those of you launching books in the near future:
- First, I checked in with my publisher to make sure we weren’t duplicating places we were sending review copies, e-galleys, and PR releases. Since Mayapple Press is a smaller press, I don’t have unlimited review copies, and we want to make sure the places we’re sending are good target markets for this particular book. I’m trying harder with this book to make more of a local impact with local media, too.
- Second, I haven’t booked quite enough readings yet, so I still need to do that. Inquiries should go out soon to bookstores and libraries and reading series I’d like to connect with. I still haven’t been able to tell how much travel I’ll be up to, but I want to at least hit Port Townsend, Washington and Portland, Oregon on the tour. I already have planned readings on Bainbridge Island and in Seattle. Other possible tour cities include Cincinnati (where most of my family lives), Knoxville (where the book is set,) and New York City (dream!)
- Third, I sent out some queries to “dream” media folks that might be interested in the book. A lot of times they don’t like you to send attachments, such as e-galleys, but you can try writing them a nice note and see if they would like a review copy or a PR kit.
- Fourth: I’ve already ordered book postcards for the announcement and I can start addressing and writing those any time now, though they probably won’t go out any earlier than two weeks before the book’s release. I have a Facebook page for the book and I need to start updating it as advance reviews pop up, for instance.
There’s lots more I could be doing. Of course, this is all on top of literally visiting three different dentists and endodontists last week, and more this week. Super fun! But the problem is, you have to do the work, even if other things get in the way. I just remember doing last year’s Seattle AWP barely recovered from pneumonia and with a scarf wrapped around my broken elbow. There’s hardly ever a big literary event I’ve done that I haven’t had something else health-wise going on alongside it, come to think of it. I was diagnosed with my neural lesions just as I started working as Redmond’s Poet Laureate. Hilarious joke, universe.
We small press authors can all wish for the “win:” A Publisher’s Weekly starred review, a mention in Oprah Magazine, a book club pick, but the odds are not in our favor. Every time a small press book, especially a poetry book, gets some big media attention, I applaud, because they are up against bigger presses with more money and dedicated PR people. I care a lot about this book, and I want to do what I can to ensure it gets into the hands of people that might care about it too. A small press author can choose how much or how little work they do for each book launch; I wanted to give you a picture of what I’m trying to do this time around to give The Robot Scientist’s Daughter the best chance possible.
If you have good suggestions, I’d love to see the in the comments! I’m sure I’m missing some things. I’ve had like less than three nights with more than four hours of sleep in the last week because of dental pain (I know some of you guys know what I’m talking about), and that means my brain is not at its highest functionality. And of course, if you’re a reviewer or a blogger interested in an e-galley advance copy of The Robot Scientist’s Daughter, let me know.
Dreamsplaining! You want it!
Thanks to Reb Livingston, who examines the meaning of a couple of my dreams for the beginning of the year up at her “Dreamsplaining” column at Queen Mob’s Teahouse. I also wrote one of the dreams into a little poem, “On Dying in a Dream,” which you can read there.
Dentists! So many!
This week has been full of dental drama. I saw a specialty endodontist yesterday and today I’m going to a specialty dental care place that has an OR, blood transfusions, and all kinds of crazy pain medications for people (like me) who are allergic to novocaine, vicodin, etc. I’m a little nervous – this is my third dental interaction this week – and I’m hoping they will come up with a good solution for my exposed nerve complicated by the TMJ and bleeding disorder. I got a lecture from the endodontist on why I should never have gone to a “regular” dentist in the first place with all my health issues. I frankly didn’t know anything about it, no one had ever mentioned a place for freaks like me before now, but apparently, it’s where I belong. So off I go.
Poet, hobbled by her inability to open her jaw or smile very widely, nevertheless takes a quick art walk
But in the middle of my dental drama was the premiere of our poetry-art collaborative show at METHOD Gallery in Pioneer Square, called TEXTure. I made a brief foray out there and saw the poems in large print on the wall next to the art that inspired them, and then the poems that art had inspired. It was really fun to hear people talk about my work without knowing I was right behind them. It was hugely crowded which I think means it was a success! I also dipped for about fifteen seconds into fave hipster gallery Roq La Rue, which had a group show going on, and managed to squeeze in between people long enough to get a quick snap and then leave. Here are a couple of shots of the snowman piece by Carol Milne with me (not smiling, but not because I’m not happy – it just hurt!) and the artist, a picture of the poems on the wall, and I wish I had better shots of the rest but it was so crowded – the neon piece inspired by Sherman Alexie’s work was really something you should see in person, and the neon artists Lia Hall & Cedar Mannan are sweet AND talented. Maybe I’ll get to work with them someday too!
I couldn’t get a good shot of the neon piece, so this is a picture from the METHOD gallery site. But seriously, go see it. The exhibition is up for a month, with a poetry reading and poet/artists’ discussion and reception on January 29.
And here’s a quick shot from the group show “Incantation” at Roq La Rue. The mermaid is by Chie Yoshii, and the other is by Redd Walitzki. I literally had to take this shot between the crowded shoulders of others, you could barely move in there!
The cliche says that if you want to make God laugh, make plans. Well, I had a ton of plans for this week, which have all been postponed thanks to a small-filling-gone-awry which has left me scrambling to find an endodontist to do some emergency surgery and the left side of my face swelled up, like I’ve been in a boxing match, and the left side of my face in excruciating pain. At 41, I am facing my first ever root canal, and I can’t say I’m excited about that. For the last couple of days, my brain, often an organ I rely upon to get me through hard times, has been literally scrambled by pain. I can’t take many pain medications except Tylenol due to allergies (for the big dogs of dental work pain – Vicodin, Codeine, and morphine) and the bleeding disorder (which nixes NSAIDS and aspirin.) I have an exposed nerve/root and I have to say it is not at all comfortable.
So I’ve been making my apologies to everyone, drinking soup and eating jello, watching throwback movies (Ladyhawke, anyone? Still a fun conceit, but I was distracted by an absolutely terrible synth-driven score) and trying not to think how this is going to make me late on some of my writing projects. Because life is full of surprise disruptions. Trying to handle them with grace is part of the journey.
In bigger, non-personal news, today the news reports a terrorist attack on a French humor newspaper, because there’s nothing, apparently, that intolerant people hate more than humor. (Think North Korea and the Interview, which falls under this category as well.) These are disruptions of a larger sort. How do we survive in a world that seems sometimes poised to destroy us? Well, we have to continue to be brave enough to laugh.
On that note, watching MST3K late last night (sleeping is not possible lately, so this is a good way to pass the small hours of the morning) I noticed a game-show skit with a call out to the cold war and a shout-out to the subject of my upcoming book, Oak Ridge. The darkest joke, which I think I’ll make a little poem out of, involves one of the answers to the question “What are the two biggest lies about nuclear war?” “We can win a nuclear war” and “The survivors are the lucky ones.” (Bonus depressing fact from this skit: the most radioactive and deadly movie set? Look up “cancer controversy and John Wayne’s The Conquerors.”) On that note, I’m off to ice my face and groan some more! Enjoy the clip!
Hello and Happy 2015!
I woke up in 2015 and decided it was time for me to be more daring, more participatory. The last few years I feel like I’ve been sort of sick, tired, hibernating, waiting for a signal to go back out and get into life fully again. But I think the signal is maybe just feeling ready to try again. I’ve signed up to learn Tai Chi as part of my physical therapy for the neural lesion motor skill problems, I’m starting an internship in a new field (yes, at 41, I’m interning, thank you very much, don’t make fun!) I’m ready to go out and work and socialize and (dare I say it?) try to make this next book of poetry, my fourth and the closest to my heart, really make an impact, if I can. Step out of the comfort zone, seize the day, all those kinds of platitudes. Most mostly, try to engage in life as actively as possible.
So, with the background music of The Mountain Goats (melancholy yet addictive!) yesterday I sent out two poetry packets, a book query for a completely different kind of book than I’d ever imagined writing that combines my love of poetry with my background in technical and marketing writing, wrote and sent out two magazine queries, wrote a new poem, and practiced writing pitch letters (which I still do not feel confident about – this is part of what I want to learn how to do!) I even got on my little exercise bike and rode farther than I’d ever been able to ride in the last few years. Today, to make up for yesterday’s manic productivity, I spent two hours getting an eye exam (nothing major found, yay!) and then four more hours not able to focus my eyes or read because of those darned dilation drops. On the plus side, I’ll be getting a very snazzy pair of “progressive readers” which are, you know, a sign of my progression…into middle age. But you know what? I feel pretty happy about where I am, who I’m with and where I’m going these days. Maybe I’m being unreasonably optimistic, but I hope not.
So, in the spirit of daring and new years and everything, I wanted to let you know about two new things – a new poem “Introduction to Junk Science or, Everything You Learned About Science Was a Lie” in the second ever issue of Tahoma Review (which is very fun readings) and an upcoming art and poetry collaboration show with Sherman Alexia, Daemond Arrindell, Carol Milne, Maura Donegan, Lia Hall and Cedar Mannan in association with the METHOD art gallery in Pioneer Square. It’s January 29th at 6 PM at the Seattle Central Library with a reception at the METHOD gallery afterwards, and I’d love to see you there for such a unique event! I’ve always loved working with visual artists and kudos to Mary Coss of METHOD for putting us all together.
A few thoughts and thank-you’s before the year’s end…
Thanks to IthacaLit for publishing my little essay in their Winter issue on “Lights in the Darkness and Literary Fits.”
Thanks to Donna Miscolta for listing my newest book The Robot Scientist’s Daughter in her “Books to Read in 2015!” (Also some other great books on her list, so check it out!)
I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for a better year. See you later, 2014! I’m cleaning out closets (an end-of-the-year ritual for us, much easier than making resolutions) and took a box of shoes and clothing to the donation center. I boxed up another box to take to a consignment store (good-bye, high heels! Sigh! Wobbly balance and bad ankles = no high heels.) I’m ready with my vision board and calender (see previous post.) I’m ready to be a better version of myself in 2015, and I’m hoping the year will bring better health, better energy, and more writing luck for all of us!
I think this poem, the very last one in my current apocalyptic book manuscript, applies equally to the end of the world and the end of the year. Poem first appeared in Redactions.
Epilogue – Or, A Story for After
I want to tell you a story about how we survived the end of the world. Crouched around a dying fire, I illustrate with shadow puppets the old, beat-up van, the velocity of water and sky, the unnamable odds against us. What really sells it? The way the ending goes on forever, moon ebbing closer to the mysterious dark, its craggy face calling out, the skies scattered with falling stars. The way objects are nearer than they appear. You next to me, and I remind you – here is where we used to be, here is where we are. I draw a line in the dirt with a fork and draw a picture – a house made of a square and a triangle, a single daisy in the yard, and two smiling stick figures. This is what we dreamed of, the day we awaited has arrived. There are no more shotguns or dusty trails lined with diseased corpses. A ship arrives on top of a mountain, heralded by doves; an airplane lands on another planet, seatmates dazed by the lack of gravity. We might teach the dragons to dance, learn the alchemy of soil again, rebuild libraries with tales of fantastic voyage. All I need right now is you, the simple weight of your hand, the warmth of your breath, and this last cup of coffee to tell me – we are miraculous.
I am feeling mildly optimistic about 2015. 2014 had some struggles – a broken bone, another case of pneumonia, a bit of a discouragement bender and a lot of bad news on the television – but it was better than the year before it, I think, in terms of life lived and health. In the tradition of the “vision board,” the sort of tradition I don’t really mentally hold to but enjoy due to my child-like entertainment levels with arts and crafts, here’s my 2015 Vision. (Hint: it’s happier! And has more business in it!) I have a new book to launch next year, a new business, and I’m starting next year out with some new practical steps towards a new kind of career (to be revealed later.) To that end, I just ordered a 2015 wall calender to schedule readings, events, work, and fun! Anyway, here’s to a better, happier, and healthier 2015 to us all! Happy New Year!