The Champagne Corks Popped

Libby Sommer with The Usual Story book

THE USUAL STORY has been released into the world. The champagne corks popped in celebration. Will THE USUAL STORY fly off the shelves in book stores all over Australia and around the world? Will it rocket up the charts on Amazon? Fingers crossed.

champagne cork popping

Here’s the book blurb:

“Tango is a dance of passion. It draws partners into an intimate relationship. Sofia loves to tango but, as she dances, she is confronted by society’s infatuation with the young and the beautiful.

In the painful aftermath of a brief affair, Sofia seeks to find out what she actually knows about herself and the past. She looks for answers in dark corners and begins to see the elusiveness of understanding and memory – the psychological space where recollection and loss collide.

If you liked THE CRYSTAL BALLROOM, you’ll love THE USUAL STORY, a delicately fragmented story of memory, intrigue and passion.”

 

a grey-suited man and a woman in a red fringed dress, red shoes and fishnet stockings, are in a tango stance, her leg wrapped around him.

Available from Ginninderra Press; also print and ebook editions from Amazon, Book Depository and other online booksellers.

Hope you enjoy it.

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Cover Reveal

a grey-suited man and a woman in a red fringed dress, red shoes and fishnet stockings, are in a tango stance, her leg wrapped around him.

Woohoo. Here’s the cover of ‘The Usual Story’ – a delicately fragmented story of memory, intrigue and passion. The book will be released on 25 July. Much excitement.

The cover image shows the fabulous legs of tango dancers and teachers Mimi and Teddy from ‘A Little Buenos Aires‘.  Mimi and Teddy, who run regular tango workshops and milongas, very kindly let me use their photo.

“Tango is a dance of passion. It draws partners into an intimate relationship. Sofia loves to tango but, as she dances, she is confronted by society’s infatuation with the young and the beautiful.”

Pre-release copies available from publisher Ginninderra Press or you can order a copy from your favourite bricks and mortar bookseller, online retailers or on Kindle, etc.

I’m so excited about ‘The Usual Story‘, a prequel to ‘The Crystal Ballroom.  And thrilled my books are out in the world where people can read them.

If you’d like to write a review of the book on Amazon or Goodreads it would be fantastic.

Counting down to launch.

ThreeBookCovers3

 

 

Publication Update

a man and woman dancing tango

On Tuesday I posted the corrected final proofs of THE USUAL STORY back to publisher Ginninderra Press.  Am now in the home stretch for July release of the book, a prequel to THE CRYSTAL BALLROOM.  Have finalised the blurb for back cover and obtained copyright approval for front cover image.

The primary goal of proofing is to serve as a tool for customer verification that the entire job is accurate. Prepress proofing (also known as off-press proofing[4]) is a cost-effective way of providing a visual copy without the expense of creating a press proof.[5] If errors are found during the printing process on press, correcting them can prove very costly to one or both parties involved. – Wikipedia

I’ve been working on the back cover Book Blurb for the last couple of months – rewritten it maybe 300 times. But I think it reads well now, so well I hope readers won’t be disappointed when they read the book itself. Hopefully the story lives up to its promise.

Like THE CRYSTAL BALLROOM, THE USUAL STORY is written in stand-alone discreet chapters. Versions of several of the chapters were first published as short stories in literary journals. I connected the stories by using segments as linking devices: the main character’s telling of the aftermath of a painful affair, her search for understanding of what went before, and the tango. It’s not an easy thing to do. My proof reader said the manuscript reads like a novel, rather than as a collection of linked stories. Am very happy to hear that. Another term for the structure of the book is novel-in-stories.

‘While the short story pauses to explore an illuminated moment, and the novel chugs toward a grand conclusion, the novel in stories moves in spirals and loops, a corkscrewing joy rode.’ – Danielle Trussoni

So corrected final proofs are now with  Ginninderra Press in Adelaide, a small but prestigious publisher.

The next step towards a July release of THE USUAL STORY –  a delicately fragmented story of memory, intrigue and passion –  is the uploading of the files to the printer.

An exciting time.

 

From acceptance to publication

 

tango-dancing-couple-dance-style-67238.jpeg

Over the weekend I finished correcting first proofs of THE USUAL STORY, a prequel to THE CRYSTAL BALLROOM and posted them back to Ginninderra Press in Adelaide. Final proofs next. We’re on track for a July release. An exciting time.

red and black book cover The Crystal Ballroom

This is my third book, so I’m getting used to the publication process. After acceptance of the manuscript by Ginninderra Press in July 2017, eight months later I received first proofs. These I’ve read and corrected.

In the meantime we have been discussing the cover image. Ginninderra Press is a small but prestigious publisher and I’m able to have a say in cover design. This doesn’t happen with a larger publisher. I am also in communication with GP about a quote to put on the front cover to attract sales and a blurb for the back cover.

Blurbs are very difficult to write. I had a chat with my good friend the talented author Susanne Gervay today about my blurb. She did a brainstorming session with me and I think we’ve got a few lines together that will make people want to read the book.

first proofs, The Usual Story by Libby Sommer

Actually, first draft of the blurb is:

‘Tango is the dance of passion, forcing partners into an intimate relationship. Sofia loves the tango, but at the dances she comes face to face with the truth of her aging in today’s culture that has very little use for anything that is not young.’

What do you think? I would LOVE some feedback on this blurb. Please give me your response in the comments section. I’m not a good big-picture-person like my friend Susanne. I’m more into observing small details, which is good for prose and poetry but not for writing pitches and blurbs.

I asked Les Murray, Nobel Prize nominee for Literature, who is also Literary Editor of Quadrant magazine, if he would read THE USUAL STORY and write a couple of lines for the back cover. He said yes. Wow! I’m so delighted. He knows my work well having published many of my short stories and poems. So first proofs have also been posted to him.

So that’s front and back cover. And then there’s a dedication page to be added, acknowledgements, etc.  Versions of three of the chapters in THE USUAL STORY were first published in Quadrant so this needs to be acknowledged.

Then comes final proofs. Professional proof readers are very expensive so I’m hoping my eldest son with the PhD will proof read for me this time. TBA.

Then comes Cover Release with a big beat up on social media. I post regularly on Instagram and Facebook and less regularly on Twitter and Pinterest. I think the cover looks terrific. It’s not all finalised yet. I asked two tango dancers I know for copyright clearance on one of their images that shows the two of them dancing the tango. It’s one of the photos they use to promote their classes at A Little Buenos Aires. They said yes, as long as I acknowledge copyright ownership. So that’s great. It’s an eye-catching pic and would look good beside THE CRYSTAL BALLROOM in book stores.

Next step is pre-release copies announcement. Social media again.

Then details of the release date of THE USUAL STORY. Champagne and balloons and a lot of brouhaha when the book is finally available to the public.

I am not planning to have a book launch. Unfortunately, I am a very shy person and hate being the centre of attention. I had a launch for my first book and it was very successful. However, I was so anxious I thought I was having a heart attack. So not doing that again. A shame because book launches are a good way to sell books. Because this book also features a lot of tango dancing, I am thinking I could have a soft launch at a milonga or tango dance. Just a slice of chocolate cake and a glass of champagne at half time. Or not.

The older woman in fiction

men and women dancing

My new book, The Usual Story (Ginninderra Press) is due for release mid 2018. Like The Crystal Ballroom, The Usual Story is set in the dance world and will add to a small pool of literature that addresses the issue of the older woman in fiction.

‘In this unusual book Libby Sommer puts women’s psyches under the microscope – their hopes and dreams, fears and foibles – yet always with a deft touch and a sympathetic ear.‘ –  The Crystal Ballroom review, Women’s Ink! magazine , November 2017

two tango dancers in red black and white

The Usual Story touches on the stages of a woman’s life:  childhood, adolescence, marriage, motherhood and grand-motherhood. It’s created from asides, snapshots, glimpses, encounters and memories. The numbered sections provide a container for the chaos as we meet this woman in mid-life change. How will she come to terms with the truth of her aging in a culture that has very little use for anything that is not young?

Set partly in a seaside suburb of Sydney the story is played out against a response to nature, using the poetry of the Australian seascape to celebrate the beauty of this country. The presence of the sea throughout suggests the enigma at the heart of all life processes, the fact that certain things can’t be captured in words, can only be hinted and gestured at.

Together with many other developed countries, Australia’s population is ageing. Over the course of the 20th century, the proportion of people aged 65 and over has tripled. The baby boomer generation form a prominent part of Australia’s population, and as most fiction readers are women over forty the book will reach a group of people who are increasing in number but who are often ignored in literature. Most novels, if they have a heroine at all, depict her as young and beautiful, whereas middle-aged women, the majority of the readership, have no role models.

Although publication of The Usual Story is still more than six months away, we are looking at ideas for the cover. It will probably have a similar look to The Crystal Ballroom, perhaps in red, black and white with a dance theme. The publisher will make the final decision.

So then comes reviews for the back cover. Any suggestions for reviewers?

Header image Pinterest:  Beryl Cook – Dancing the Black Bottom

 

 

Path to Publication

Libby Sommer holding a copy of The Crystal Ballroom in book store

Interviewer: I would like you to tell me about your Path to Publication from first idea to finished book. I’d like to know your inspirations and how The Crystal Ballroom became more than an idea. I also want to know about your writing process. Do you sit at a desk 9-5 or at a cafe during snatched lunches? Did you write the book in a spurt of three months … how long did it take from start to finish? Did you have cold readers, send it to an agent or to a publisher? Were you accepted straight away? How many rewrites and drafts?

Me:  I usually write stories about places and people that I know well. I take real events and characters but change things around and shake them all about and make things up. So, for The Crystal Ballroom, I had been dancing Argentine tango, rock and roll, jive, swing, Latin American and ballroom dancing for many many years. I used to dance five nights a week. I’d drive all over Sydney for technique classes and to dance at different venues. The place, ‘The Crystal Ballroom’, is a fiction but this dance hall becomes a character in the novel. I was inspired by the people I met at the dances and the politics of the ‘dance scene’.

I don’t sit at a desk 9-5 but I am extremely disciplined with my writing. I write 7 days a week. I treat my manuscript like an old friend, someone I need to stay in touch with regularly. I also exercise 7 days a week. So my routine is to go to a cafe before the gym with a print out of the previous day’s work. I edit from this hard copy and write the next scene. After the gym I walk home, type out the revisions, print out, go to another cafe in the afternoon. Repeat the process. I only work in the AM on a Sunday 🙂

It took me 4 years to write The Crystal Ballroom. The chapters are self-contained, so I was able to send some of the discreet episodes out to Quadrant magazine for publication.

I belong to a weekly feedback writing group where we critique each others’ work. So I write to that weekly deadline. In the early years, when I’d finish a manuscript I’d pay an editor or mentor to read it and give me feedback. I’d also ask a couple of friends to read it and give feedback. I never send a manuscript to an agent or a publisher that hasn’t been reworked 20 to 100 times – that includes the rewriting along the way.

My Year With Sammy was my first published book. It was accepted straight away by Ginninderra Press, a small but prestigious publisher (thought-provoking books for inquiring readers). It was my fifth book length manuscript. I had sent the previous books to agents and large publishers. All my confidence had been knocked out of me by all the rejections leading up to the fifth manuscript. Now though, I have Ginninderra Press who seem to like my work. They also published The Crystal Ballroom this year. The Usual Story will be published by Ginninderra Press next year.

It’s an extremely difficult road to publication and some people decide to self-publish rather than continue to be rejected. But other people are able to write a best-seller, an airport book that sells lots of copies, so big publishers like their work very much. Unfortunately, or fortunately, my books are classified as literary fiction, so a very small market. Big publishers are not interested in books that do not conform to the norm. Not enough money in it for them.

I am very grateful to have my small but prestigious publisher.

One-Page Review of The Crystal Ballroom

author holding copy of The Crystal Ballroom

 

I was delighted to see a one-page review of my novel ‘The Crystal Ballroom‘ in October Quadrant magazine (available now in newsagents or on-line).

Penelope Nelson writes:

‘Have you ever heard Latin American music coming from an upper room over a shop, and lingered briefly at the sign about dancing classes? Perhaps you have seen people–a man in built-up shoes or a woman with a surfeit of silver bangles–heading for an old town hall after dark. The world of ballroom dancing and tango lessons has its own etiquette and hierarchies. Libby Sommer’s new fiction ‘The Crystal Ballroom’ lifts the lid on the delights and pitfalls of this fascinating sub-culture …

‘Sommer has great skill in creating atmosphere. The music, the swirling scents of aftershave and sweat, the decor of ballrooms, flats, motels and shared tents are powerfully evoked …

‘Some of the best passages in the book express the joy of dancing:

We’re practising walking the length of the hall. Alberto says that in Buenos Aires students of tango spend two years just learning to walk properly.  “Extend forward,” he says, “step forward, only placing the weight on the extended leg at the last moment, toes pointed, sides of the feet staying connected on the floor.” Then backwards with a straight leg, torso pulled up, chest up and out, and with a partner again, always there’s that special connection with a partner.

Hopefully, this wonderful review by Penelope Nelson will give sales of the book a boost. ‘The Crystal Ballroom’ is available directly from Gininnderra Press, in bookstores, and online.

red and black The Crystal Ballroom book cover