Unlike Brad Pitt in Se7en, I was expecting the box. (Same size, a bit heavier.) Because it arrived earlier than anticipated, it still took me by surprise. Unlike Morgan Freeman, I didn’t slice it open with a switchblade. I used hedge shears. (Because I knew where they were and was too impatient to search for scissors. Or perhaps I wanted to outdo David Fincher in creepiness.) And inside the box? (Spoiler Alert!) Not pretty Gwyneth Paltrow’s head, but beautiful copies of Calvin’s Head. I didn’t cry like Brad Pitt, but my allergies did act up a little.
Once again, a case of excellent timing. I’d just returned from a five-day writers’ retreat held in upstate New York by my publisher Bold Strokes Books. (I’ll write about that in a minute.) I spent an afternoon with my sister at Saratoga Racetrack (and I do mean spent!) as well as a day with my folks, before driving back up to New Hampshire. The next morning the box arrived, direct from the printer in Michigan. Of course, I immediately posted a photo on Facebook, Twitter, etc. The show of support was awe-inspiring (I’ve lived abroad too long to say awesome.) Then the questions began to pour in: When? Where? How do I get my hands on a copy? Will you sign it? So as not to bore everyone with numerous posts, I’ll try to cover all bases.
Calvin’s Head is available for Pre-Order via the Bold Strokes Books website (click HERE.) They ship September 1st – two weeks earlier than the official release date of 15 September. It’s been available for Pre-Order via Amazon for a few months, and for European friends and readers that option may mean a lower shipping cost. Or if there’s still a bookstore open nearby, ask them to order it for you. In fact, that’s a great option since it brings a debut author/book to their attention.
(In Amsterdam I have excellent contact with American Book Center, Vrolijk, and The English Bookshop – so take your pick. In New York and other major US cities, you know your options better than me. But I’ll also mention Gay’s the Word, a great LGBT bookshop in London. I’m planning events in lots of these places in coming months. You’ll find updated info on the Events Page as soon as arrangements are finalized.)
Reviews and Random Notes
A few words about Reviews. If you like the book, it can be helpful to say a few words (you see what I did there?) on Goodreads or Amazon. Nothing too long or involved. Just write what you feel. But consider saving the mean stuff to tell me in person. The look on my face might be worth what you paid for the book. Or as the MasterCard commercials suggest: Priceless.
Bold Strokes publishes Paperback Originals only, not Hardcover. E-book versions will also be available via Bold Strokes and other sites, though not for Pre-Order (so it seems.) I’ll happily sign anyone’s book, purchased anywhere, at any time, whenever or wherever we meet. Do us both a favor and don’t ask for free copies. Authors receive a very limited number, I’ve discovered. After that, we pay for them like anyone else. Bloggers, reviewers, booksellers, etc. may request an ARC from Bold Strokes Books via NetGalley. That’s everything I can think of for now. But feel free to ask anything in the comments section below.
More Than Wine and Literature
So. Where was I before I became so profoundly distracted by the contents of a box? Oh, yes. The writers’ retreat in upstate New York, little more than a half-hour from where I grew up, where I spent summers helping out on my grandfather’s farm, not unlike the farm country around the Easton Mountain Retreat, or the beautiful property ten minutes away where Bold Strokes Books has its headquarters.
Some might view it as a retreat to my past, but I saw it more as a forward march into the future. Before I began Calvin’s Head, I thought of writer retreats as fancy resorts in the countryside, chilling out, sipping wine, and exchanging ideas about literature. I didn’t imagine much work got done in such settings. (The gorgeous Yaddo Retreat for Artists being a prime example, also not far from where I grew up.) I couldn’t have been more misguided.
My literary enlightenment dawned in the summer of 2012 when I began work on the second draft of my book, first while dog-sitting in the Catskills, followed by longer stays in the White Mountains (where I write this now.) Was it the fresh mountain air, the walks along lakes or through forests that released my creative energies in ways never imagined? I didn’t know. But the country boy who became a city slicker rediscovered his country roots in a new context. The proof positive arrived today in that brown cardboard box.
A Literary Family
The Bold Strokes Books retreat (or BSB Camp) brought together forty writers, editors, proofreaders, and some partners. Five days of classes, critiques, and breakout sessions, with plenty of time to read, write, edit, hike, bike, or simply get to know one another. I’d met a handful of BSB authors at the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival in May and felt part of the LGBT literary community. But at Easton Mountain I discovered the Bold Strokes Family, as it’s so often called, with warm, funny, and talented author/publisher Radclyffe at the head of the table.
As we celebrated the Tenth Anniversary of Bold Strokes Books on the final evening, it was clear this sense of a literary family was an important aspect of her vision, a vision that has grown from strength to strength. I felt proud to be a part of it. As proud as I felt when I opened a box full of books with my name on the cover.