David Henry Sterry

Author, book doctor, raker of muck

David Henry Sterry

Month: February 2015

Spermatazoa & Me: My Terribly English Father Explains Sex Terribly to Me

My dad describes, as only a tightly wound Englishman can, how to have sex.

 

The Book Doctors Ask Pitchapalooza Winner Paula Fertig: How Did You Get a 2-Book Deal for Your Debut Novel?

The Book Doctors first met Judith Fertig when she won our Kansas City Pitchapalooza (think American Idol for Books). She was commanding without being overbearing, powerful but warm, a total pro. And her pitch was really good. When we consulted with her, one of the things we did was help her figure out what genre her book fit in. It’s rather shocking how many of our clients don’t know exactly where their book wants to sit on the bookshelf. One we helped her get that sorted out, she got a great agent, who helped her edit her book, then got her a two-book deal with Penguin. And since we’re doing an Online Pitchapalooza with National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) right now, we’d thought we’d pick her brain to see how she did it. (To read on Huffington Post click here.)
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The Book Doctors: So, how did you get started in the book business?

Judith Fertig: Like most English majors, I wrote an early novel, unpublished, that remains in the proverbial desk drawer. When I was living and working in London, England, I realized that absence makes the heart grow fonder and I wanted to write a Midwestern cookbook when I got back home. It took a few years, and a couple of restaurant recipe “starter” cookbooks, but then I wrote Pure Prairie in 1995. After that, I wrote Prairie Home Cooking in 1999, which was nominated for the James Beard Award, became a bestseller, and earned me the title of “heartland cookbook icon” conferred by Saveur Magazine.

TBD: Who are some of your inspirations?

JF: I love cookbooks that tell a story. I still miss the late Laurie Colwin, a novelist who also wrote a column for the equally late Gourmet, which turned into two cookbooks, Home Cooking and More Home Cooking. I am an avid mystery reader, especially those with depth from Louise Penny and Jacqueline Winspear.

TBD: How did you come up with the idea for The Cake Therapist?

JF: I started out with Neely, a young pastry chef whose New York life is melting down like buttercream frosting on a hot day. She goes back to her Midwestern hometown and opens the bakery she’s been dreaming about. And then I had a vision of Neely opening the door of her bakery after working all day and unleashing that bakery air into the cold. In my mind, the bakery air refracted into a baker’s rainbow that only she can see and taste: pomegranate red, orange, lemon yellow, pistachio green, blueberry, indigo plum, violet blackberry, spice and vanilla.

TBD: How was it making the transition from non-fiction to a novel?

JF: Very interesting. I had to learn to write in scenes rather than in recipes with headnotes and sidebars. I had to develop an ear for believable and interesting dialogue. I had to learn how to go back and forth in time,  to put the flashback chapters in chronological order rather than in theme order, which was too confusing for the reader. Non-fiction also requires more planning–you make an appointment to interview someone or buy groceries to test a recipe. With fiction, I learned it was just as important to allow for the unplanned, the plot twist that was just waiting if you gave yourself enough time to lose yourself in the writing. I was also working on a cookbook (Bake Happy, Running Press, May 2015) sort of at the same time as The Cake Therapist. So I would get an idea for a flavor pairing or wonder if strawberries with rosewater really tasted like a summer’s day, then go into the kitchen and test it out in cakes, cookies, tarts, etc.. My taste-tester friends and family were very happy there for a while.

TBD: How did you get your book deal?

JF: It all happened much faster than I thought. I won a 1-minute Pitchapalooza contest when The Book Doctors  in Kansas City in spring 2012. After my winner’s conference with her, I knew my book was not a mystery as I had thought, but commercial women’s fiction. After my manuscript went through my writers group, right before Thanksgiving in 2013, I sent pitch letters (with a great cake photo) to agents who I thought might like my work. A friend had recommended I read Beatriz Williams’ One Hundred Summers because her plot goes back and forth in time like mine does. And I loved that book. Her agent liked my pitch and hooked me up with Stefanie Lieberman at Janklow & Nesbit. Stefanie sent the manuscript out to readers and I worked on the tweaks to the manuscript over the December holidays. She sent it out in early January, and we had a pre-empt offer for two books from Kate Seaver shortly afterward.  The second book in the series, The Memory of Lemon, will be out in 2016.

TBD: What was it like working with your editor?

JF: Kate Seaver at Berkley (Penguin Random House) was very enthusiastic from the start. She went over and over the book, guiding me to tweak scenes, lose the prologue, amp up a character. I think writers have to be open to some change, and she was very skillful at helping me get to the heart of the main character and the story.  This past November, I was able to go to New York and meet Kate, the Berkley/Penguin team, and Stefanie; I highly recommend doing that. It’s so much better to work with people when you can put a name with a face.

TBD: What do you plan to do to promote and market the book?

JF: Because I want this to become a very successful series, I’m really stepping up my efforts on the first book. Berkley/Penguin already has a strong marketing and public relations presence, but I also know that “who you know” and persistence can also make a difference. That led me to hire additional PR and marketing assistance from Tandem Literary, who will work closely with Berkley/Penguin. I’ve made, decorated, and sent boxes and boxes of “cake therapy” cupcakes to possible blurb writers as well as book reviewers at major magazines. You always learn something unexpectedly new with every book and I’ve learned how to overnight cupcakes successfully (a 6-pack clear plastic cupcake container, frozen cupcakes, and a snug box).  I’ve finally gotten my web site going, www.judithfertig.com. In the past few weeks, I’ve been doing more social media, mainly Twitter and Facebook. And planning the first event at my local independent bookstore, Rainy Day Books. That’s the first stop on the author tour. I will be blogging and guest blogging. As much as possible, I will also bring little treats to events so readers can “taste” what The Cake Therapist is all about.

TBD: How did having an expertise in cake help you write your novel?

JF: I grew up in Cincinnati, a great mom-and-pop bakery town. All of our family’s special occasion cakes, fantasies of frosting, came from The Wyoming Pastry Shop. For me, cake symbolized something good happening; its elusive flavor made me want to figure out how to make it myself. I’ve spent my cookbook career starting with an idea for a main dish or a dessert and then figuring out how to get there. It was the same process for the novel–minus the mess in the kitchen!

TBD:  You are working within two niches: food & woman’s fiction. What are some of the challenges and advantages to this?

JF: The Cake Therapist turned out to be women’s commercial fiction, although I thought it was going to be a mystery. That was one of the surprises along the way. But there is a mystery within the novel, like a secret filling. I started out writing cookbooks that had a storytelling quality and now I’m writing fiction that has recipe elements. The challenge for me was getting the plot going, but I went to the Iowa Summer Writers Workshop and had a basic plot by the end of the session. The advantage for me from a non-fiction background is that I think in a multi-sensory way and try to get this on the page so readers can see, hear (with sort of a playlist), touch, smell, and especially taste their way through The Cake Therapist.

TBD: What advice do you have for writers?

JF: Adjust your book as you go along. You may start writing and a new character can appear or a plot twist present itself or something equally surprising can occur when you’re into it. AND join a good writers group. Feedback is so important.

Novelist and cookbook author Judith Fertig, who was described by Saveur Magazine as a “heartland cookbook icon,” debuts a new novel, The Cake Therapist (Berkley/Penguin, 2015).  Bake Happy (Running Press, 2015), a also comes out this year.  Her other books include In Heartland:  The Cookbook (Andrews McMeel, 2011) and Prairie Home Cooking (Harvard Common Press, 2000), which was nominated for James Beard and IACP cookbook awards.  Fertig’s food and lifestyle writing has appeared in Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Better Homes & Gardens, Saveur, Country Homes and Interiors (London), The New York Times, and The London Sunday Times. She is a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier, The Kansas City Barbeque Society, The Kansas City Novel Group, and IACP.

Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry are co-founders of The Book Doctors, a company that has helped countless authors get their books published. They are also co-authors of The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published: How To Write It, Sell It, and Market It… Successfully (Workman, 2010). They are also book editors, and between them they have authored 25 books, and appeared on National Public Radio, the London Times, and the front cover of the Sunday New York Times Book Review.

Cracking The Breaking-Up Code

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My Daughter Is A Slacker & I’m Sick & Tired of It

My daughter is a slacker. She lays around doing nothing while I work my ass off, so she can have cable, pink Uggs & American Girl dolls.  I’m sick and tired of it, so I decided to lay down the law and teach her a lesson about hard work, sweat & sacrifice.  Everything that makes America great!

 

This Dog Does Not Want to Play Ball

Starring Moe

The Book Doctors NaNoWriMo Pitchapalooza Winner Gets 3-Book Deal with Random House

The Book Doctors are proud to announce 2013 National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) winner Stacy McAnulty got a 3-book deal from Random House for The Dino Files, in which a nine-year-old dino expert has adventures at the Dinosaur Education Center of Wyoming, run by his paleontologist grandparents.

stacy-bio-200The 2015 Book Doctors NaNoWriMo Pitchapalooza is accepting pitches from now until March 6. Just send your pitch to: nanowrimo@thebookdoctors.com. PLEASE DO NOT ATTACH YOUR PITCH, JUST EMBED IT IN THE EMAIL. All pitches must be received by 11:59PM PST on March 6, 2015. The 25 random pitches will be posted on March 15, 2015. Winners will be announced on March 31, 2015. Anyone can vote for fan favorite, so get your social media engine running as soon as the pitches go up!

Like last year, we’re offering free 20-minute consultations (worth $100) to anyone who buys a copy of The Essential Guide To Getting Your Book Published. Just attach a copy of your sales receipt to your email and we’ll set up your consultation.

It’s been a great year for Pitchapalooza winners. Cathy Camper and Raul Gonzalez III were our Pitchapalooza winners from world-famous Powell’s bookstore in Portland, Oregon. Their middle grade graphic novel, Lowriders in Space, is the first in a two-book deal with Chronicle Books. Cari Noga was the NaNoWriMo Pitchapalooza winner in 2011. Her novel, Sparrow Migrations, was a semifinalist in the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest, the spring 2013 winner of the ForeWord Firsts contest sponsored by ForeWord Reviews, and was named a literary fiction category semi-finalist in the Kindle Book Review’s 2014 Kindle Book Awards. She recently received an offer from Lake Union Publishing, an imprint of Amazon Publishing. Then there’s Pitchapalooza winner and NaNoWriMo veteran, Gennifer Albin. After she won Pitchapalooza, one of New York’s top agents sold her dystopian novel in a three-book, six-figure deal. Her third book, Unraveled, just came out this past fall. And these are just a very few of our many success stories!

Are you feeling a little unsure about exactly how to craft your pitch? We’ve got 10 Tips for Pitching:

  1. A great pitch is like a poem.  Every word counts.
    2. Make us fall in love with your hero.  Whether you’re writing a novel or memoir, you have to make us root for your flawed but lovable hero.
    3. Make us hate your villain.  Show us someone unique and dastardly whom we can’t wait to hiss at.
    4. Just because your kids love to hear your story at bedtime doesn’t mean you’re automatically qualified to get a publishing deal. So make sure not to include this information in your pitch.
    5. If you have any particular expertise that relates to your novel, tell us. Establishing your credentials will help us trust you.
    6. Your pitch is your audition to show us what a brilliant writer you are, it has to be the very best of your writing.
    7.Don’t make your pitch a book report.  Make it sing and soar and amaze.
    8. A pitch is like a movie trailer.  You start with an incredibly exciting/funny/sexy/romantic/etc. close-up with intense specificity, then you pull back to show the big picture and tell us the themes and broad strokes that build to a climax.
    9. Leave us with a cliffhanger.  The ideal reaction to a pitch is, “Oh my God, what happens next?”
    10. Show us what’s unique, exciting, valuable, awesome, unexpected, about your project, and why it’s comfortable, familiar and proven.

 

A Beautiful Thought on Friendship

A beautiful thought on friendship

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I ON YOUTH: YOUNG PEOPLE TALK ABOUT UGLY BABIES, BRITTANY, LINDSAY & TOM CRUISE HAVING GAY SEX

Being young is the coolest thing there is. First installment from show about what today’s youth is thinking about.

David Henry Sterry’s “Chicken” Hypnotic, Rollicking Story: Don’t Peek Until You’ve Got a Clear Schedule

“I picked up CHICKEN on a Sunday morning. The plan was to browse and come back later if it was interesting. I was still reading at lunch. I was done by dinner. Sterry’s prose has a hypnotic, jazzy spontaneity. He makes everything feel immediate, writing disturbing episodes with lots of honesty and no sentimentality. His ear for vernacular and impish sense of humor keeps the story rollicking along. Pick it up—but don’t peek until you’ve got a clear schedule.” – David Busis

Find Chicken at your local independent bookstore:  Indiebound Amazon

“I walk all the way up Hollywood Boulevard to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre: past tourists snapping shots; wannabe starlets sparkling by in miniskirts with head shots in their hands and moondust in their eyes; rowdy cowboys drinking with drunken Indians; black businessmen bustling by briskly in crisp suits; ladies who do not lunch with nylons rolled up below the knee pushing shopping carts full of everything they own; Mustangs rubbing up against muscular Mercedes and Hell’s Angels hogs. It’s a sick twisted Wonderland, and I’m Alice.”

chicken 10 year 10-10-13This is the chronicle of a young man walking the razor-sharp line between painful innocence and the allure of the abyss. David Sterry was a wide-eyed son of 1970s suburbia, but within a week of enrolling at Immaculate Heart College, he was lured into the dark underbelly of the Hollywood flesh trade. Chicken has become a coming-of-age classic, and has been translated into ten languages. This ten-year anniversary edition has shocking new material.

“Sterry writes with comic brio … [he] honed a vibrant outrageous writing style and turned out this studiously wild souvenir of a checkered past.” – Janet Maslin, The New York Times

“This is a stunning book. Sterry’s prose fizzes like a firework. Every page crackles… A very easy, exciting book to read – as laconic as Dashiell Hammett, as viscerally hallucinogenic as Hunter S Thompson. Sex, violence, drugs, love, hate, and great writing all within a single wrapper. What more could you possibly ask for? -Maurince Newman, Irish Times

“A beautiful book… a real work of literature.” – Vanessa Feltz, BBC

“Insightful and funny… captures Hollywood beautifully” – Larry Mantle, Air Talk, NPR

“Jawdropping… A carefully crafted piece of work…” -Benedicte Page, Book News, UK

“A 1-night read. Should be mandatory reading for parents and kids.” -Bert Lee, Talk of the Town

“Alternately sexy and terrifying, hysterical and weird, David Henry Sterry’s Chicken is a hot walk on the wild side of Hollywood’s fleshy underbelly. With lush prose and a flawless ear for the rhythms of the street, Sterry lays out a life lived on the edge in a coming-of-age classic that’s colorful, riveting, and strangely beautiful. David Henry Sterry is the real thing.” –Jerry Stahl, author of Permanent Midnight

“Compulsively readable, visceral, and very funny. The author, a winningly honest companion, has taken us right into his head, moment-by-moment: rarely has the mentality of sex been so scrupulously observed and reproduced on paper. Granted, he had some amazingly bizarre experiences to draw upon; but as V. S. Pritchett observed, in memoirs you get no pints for living, the art is all that counts-and David Henry Sterry clearly possesses the storyteller’s art.” – Phillip Lopate, author of Portrait of My Body – Phillip Lopate, author of Portrait of My Body

“Like an X-rated Boogie Nights narrated by a teenage Alice in Wonderland. Sterry’s anecdotes… expose Hollywood at its seamiest, a desperate city of smut and glitz. I read the book from cover to cover in one night, finally arriving at the black and white photo of the softly smiling former chicken turned memoirist.” -Places Magazine

“Snappy and acutely observational writing… It’s a book filled with wit, some moments of slapstick, and of some severe poignancy… a flair for descriptive language… The human ability to be kind ultimately reveals itself, in a book which is dark, yet always upbeat and irreverent. A really good, and enlightening, read.” – Ian Beetlestone, Leeds Guide

“Brutally illuminating and remarkably compassionate… a walk on the wild side which is alternatively exhilirating and horrifying, outrageous and tragic… Essential reading.” – Big Issue

“Visceral, frank and compulsive reading.’ –City Life, Manchester

“Sparkling prose… a triumph of the will.” -Buzz Magazine

“Pick of the Week.” -Independent

“Impossible to put down, even, no, especially when, the sky is falling…Vulnerable, tough, innocent and wise… A fast-paced jazzy writing style… a great read.” -Hallmemoirs

“Full of truth, horror, and riotous humor.” -The Latest Books

“His memoir is a super-readable roller coaster — the story of a young man who sees more of the sexual world in one year than most people ever do.” – Dr. Carol Queen, Spectator Magazine

“Terrifically readable… Sterry’s an adventurer who happens to feel and think deeply. He’s written a thoroughly absorbing story sensitively and with great compassion… A page-turner… This is a strange story told easily and well.” – Eileen Berdon, Erotica.com

“Love to see this book turned into a movie, Julianne Moore might like to play Sterry’s mum…” – by Iain Sharp The Sunday Star-Times, Auckland, New Zealand).

I Is with You: Leroy Satchel Paige Mini-Documentary


My mini-documentary of my childhood hero, a great American legend who was a combination Mark Twain/Richard Prior & Michael Jordan: Leroy Satchel Paige, born July 7, 1901, then again in 1903, 1904, and finally in 1909. 

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When I was seven I fell under the spell of Leroy Satchel Paige. I don’t remember who he was playing for, or who he was pitching against, I only remember Satchel – ridiculously old, impossibly leanlanky, and sooooooo slooooooow as he jangles in from the bullpen with the bases loaded and two out.

As the crowd whips itself into a frothy frenzy, I’m hypnotized by this magical man, this cross between Ichabod Crane and Rip Van Winkle.  Those long, loping, can’t start the game without me strides are comical, but they’re also majestic: King and Jester, Warrior and Clown, an ageless wonder of the world.

How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?

Well, by the time the Ol’ Satch actually reaches the mound and warms up, the whole stadium erupting all around him, the poor dumbfounded flummox of batter looks like a balloon with the air all leaked out of it.

Sure enough, Satch goes into his syncopated, whirly bird, interpretive dance, scatty jazzy be-bop of a wind-up, swinging out that long lean leg and easy as you please, his arm whipshotting a teeny tiny pea homeward, the whippersnapper batter freezes like a duck on a winter pond.

“STEEEEEE-RIKE!!!” screams the ump, as strike one caresses the paint on the outside of home plate lightly like a long lost lover.

Let the ball flow our of your hand like water. 

“WAAAAAAAAHHHH!” the crowd wails.

“STEEEEEE-RIKE!!!” screams the ump as strike two strokes the inside of home.

“OHHHHHHHHHHHH!” goes the crowd.

Just take the ball and throw it, home plate don’t move.

Same wind-up, same whipshotting right arm, only this time the ball floats slow, slower, slowest, the snailiest change of pace I’ve ever seen: Uncle Tommy.

Uncle Tommy’s slow, but he gets there.

The hapless whippersnapper waves feeble before the ball even gets there, his Louisville Slugger transformed into an overcooked 33 ounce piece of linguini.

“WOO-HOOOOOO!” the crowd screams in full-throated roar, raining down thunderbolts of joy on Ol’ Satch as he saunters off with a doff of his cap.

We don’t stop playing because we get old, we get old because we stop playing.

Black and white, sons of Klansmen, and ancestors of slaves, all raised their voices as one with me, and I understood in a way I could not express at the time that Satchel had made us all color blind.  And happy.   From that minute on, he was my hero.

As I got older I discovered Satchel’s humor.

Age is a question of mind over matter, if you don’t mind, it don’t matter.

And his brilliance: Nolan Ryan holds the record for no-hitters with an extraordinary 7.  Satch threw 55. Cy Young: 511 wins, Satchel, 1,934.  Shut out the Red Sox for three innings.  When he was 60.  Or somewhere thereabouts.  I memorized Satch’s 6 rules for staying young.

Avoid eating fried meats, they angry up the blood.

If your stomach disputes you, pacify it with cool thoughts.

Keep the juices flowing by jangling gently  as you move.

Go very light on the vices such as carrying on in society, the social ramble ain’t restful.

Avoid the running at all times.

And of course, don’t look back, something might be gaining on you.

Baseball has turned me from a 2nd class citizen into a 2nd class immortal. 

When I got to college and studied Socrates, I laughed when I read in his writing: “The wise man knows he knows nothing”, because it sounded exactly like Satch’s,

I don’t know anything.

And as I got older, I understood his humanity.

I is with you.

When I found out he was the highest paid athlete in America in 1945, I started to think about what it must have been like to be the Tiger Woods of your day, but not get to compete in any PGA events because you’re black.  To have to watch from the sidelines as the best white players get riches and glory, while you’re denied your rightful place on the center stage of America.  But they didn’t have Air Satchels back then.  The NO COLORED ALLOWED sign was still hanging over the door.

I marvel at this man I idolized as a boy, and how he triumphed with such grace, humor, and dignity over decades of bigotry and intolerance.

Ain’t no man can avoid being born average, but there ain’t no man got to be common.

But nothing will ever match that tingly feeling of the six year-old boy moonstruck by that great artist of the diamond.

Satchel, I is with you.

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