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The Good, The Bad...

As some of you are aware, I recently visited New York City to meet with editors. We take the trip periodically to talk with editors and find out what they're lookiing for and what they're not. It's always informative and I've found editors to be most gracious with their time. I had some preconceived notions as to what I might be hearing about how the economy is affecting the publishing industry and I was rather surprised by what I heard.

Yes, the economy is having an effect. However, surprisingly few houses are being told to cut the number of books they publsh. They are scrutinizing their submissions even more carefully than before. And there have been layoffs. The layoffs have caused shuffling of positions so editors who remain may find that they are now being told to focus on diffferent genres than a month or two earlier.

The good news for authors is that the industry is alive and still wants to see what you've written. The good news for agents and editors is that a savvy author will go over their manuscript even more carefully now, knowing that it has to be in perfect shape for submission.

A postscript to the trip: There was snow and lots of it! As a San Diego girl, I loved seeing the city covered in white. A few editors looked at me as though I was a few chapters shy of a complete book when I mentioned the beauty of it. I guess by March New Yorkers have seen about all the snow they care to.

Comments and/​or questions? alana@​lennieliterary.com


Alana: 'The Help' (Amy Einhorn/​Penguin, 2009)
by Kathryn Stockett

I read 'Gone With the Wind' when I was in high school and it was one of those books that you spent the entire week-end in your p.j.'s, blissfully devouring. This is the very same sort of book. I didn't want to put it down. It's a fictional account of a group of maids in the South and their courage in demanding their rights.

Michael: 'Damnation Falls' (Minotaur/​St. Martins Press, 2008)
by Edward Wright

Knowing I enjoy reading non-genre, leaning-toward-literary mysteries, Editor Daniela Rapp gave me a copy of DAMNATION FALLS during a recent visit to New York. The editing by Ms. Rapp is excellent, of course.

Under the search "Tennessee and 'Civil War'" Wikipedia starts, "To a large extent, the American Civil War was fought in cities and farms of Tennessee; only Virginia saw more battles. Tennessee was the last of the Southern states to secede from the Union...A large number of important battles occurred in Tennessee....Although the state became a part of the Confederacy, pockets of strong, pro-Union sentiments remained throughout the war, particularly in the mountains in East Tennessee."

Set in contemporary times in a small hillside town of Pilgrim's Rest in the east Tennessee Appalachian Mountains, DAMNATION FALLS revolves around the Civil War era politics. Sufficiently isolated from the larger population centers of the State, they were mostly ignored by the largely Confederate citizenry. This forms the backdrop for several murders, all seemingly related to the recently defeated Governor, Sonny McMahan, and tied to the rumored local events of the Civil War.

Randall Wilkes, the narrator and long-time best friend of the Governor, moves back to the hillside town where they both were raised to nurse his wounds following a boom and dishonorable bust journalistic career in Chicago. He and Sonnny become immediately immersed in the fast moving action.

The book has an assortment of well-developed characters, including the Governor's estranged father, and a mixture of the old and the current day Appalachian. I look forward to reading the next mystery by Edward Wright.


"Stardust" by Willy Nelson

First listened to this in a honky tonk bar up in the mountains near San diego and it was the perfect setting for these tunes.