Archive - August 2010

1
Teach For America Replaces The Peace Corps For College Grads
2
How To Sell Your Book!
3
A Writer Writes: Madame Victoire
4
Getting Rejected Ain't So Bad
5
Maureen Orth In Current Issue of VF
6
From Kings Highway To Colombia by Ron Schwarz (Colombia 1961-63)
7
Taking Criticism: Are You Man (or Woman) Enough To Be A Writer?
8
So You've Written A Book. Congratulations! Now Go Hire Yourself An Editor
9
E-books And Your Books
10
Who Was The Most Disliked Staffer in D.C.? More Candidates!

Teach For America Replaces The Peace Corps For College Grads

You might have seen the Washington Post article on Teach for America, how it has become the ‘hot’ program for college graduates. 4,500 Teach for America recruits were trained this summer. Smart kids are attracted to this program for lots of reasons, one simply being the salary and the opportunity to study for advanced degrees. This month, Teach for America won a $50 million federal grant that will help the program nearly double in the next four years. Teach for America was founded in 1990 by a Princeton graduate who hoped to expose future leaders to the problems of education. The program resembles the Peace Corps: two years in low-income urban and rural public schools. Applications are up by a third, but only about 12% are accepted. The new college grads make  $49,000 this year, and possibly more if they participate in a voluntary performance pay program. That’s better than the . . .

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How To Sell Your Book!

Anyone who decides to write a book soon realizes that the job requires three separate but equal skills: 1) You have to think of what to write; 2) You have to write the book; 3) You have to then go out and sell your book. # 3 is particularly true of anyone who self-publishes a novel or memoir. What writers soon realize is that no one wants to read their book! What writers have to realize is that just because you have written a book that doesn’t necessarily mean an audience is waiting to read it. There are famous stories of how successful authors were approached by new would-be writers and they’d say: “I’ll get you published, as long as I don’t have to read it.” That happened to William Faulkner, by the way. Sherwood Anderson got him published but didn’t read Faulkner’s first book. So don’t feel bad if no one reads . . .

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A Writer Writes: Madame Victoire

Leita Kaldi Davis worked for the United Nations and UNESCO, for Tufts’ Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and Harvard University. She worked with Roma (Gypsies) for fifteen years, and at the age of 55 became a Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal. She then went, for five years, to work for the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Haiti. She retired in Florida in 2002 and wrote a memoir of Senegal, Roller Skating in the Desert. Today, she  is working on a memoir of Haiti. Here is a essay she wrote about working in Haiti entitled, “Madame Victoire. • Madame Victoire by Leita Kaldi Davis (Senegal 1993-96) At the Hopital Albert Schweitzer in Deschapelles where I worked from 1997 to 2002, every day I saw death bump up against life, perhaps most dramatically with Madame Victoire.  Pastor Jasmin told me about our Security Chief, Ivon Isme’s wife, Victoire, who had been ill for a long time.  . . .

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Getting Rejected Ain't So Bad

The  publishing world is full of rejected books that went onto find a home and great success. Joe Heller’s Catch 22 was turned down 50 times by mainstream publishers. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was rejected by 121 publishers (the record!) and now has sold over 4 million copies. Also, remember, bad books also make best sellers. Take Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code. It has sold millions. It is unreadable to anyone who reads English. Look at the Love Story by Erich Segal. Another huge bestseller. It’s a sappy, teenage love story written by a classics professor at Harvard. Segal wrote it as a movie script and the studio made into the first novelization ever done.  Remember The Bridges of Madison Country by Robert James Waller? It sold 50 million copies worldwide. Has anyone ever attempted to read James Patterson and the novels that are manufactured by his publishing factory? Then there is Nicholas Sparks who wrote . . .

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Maureen Orth In Current Issue of VF

The September issue of Vanity Fair carries a long article by Maureen Orth, special correspondent to the magazine, on designer Oleg Cassini. Journalist Orth has written articles for VF on Conrad Black, Michael Jackson, and Denise Rich, among others. Maureen says that she was ‘stunned’ by the “expanding cast of characters” she discovered while reporting “Cassini Royale.” Everyone is linked to the designer from financier Bernie Cornfeld to Geroge W. Bush. Maureen, in her other life, is the founder of the Marina Orth Foundation, a non-profit that serves underprivileged schools in Colombia. At the request of the secretary of education of Medellin, where Maureen was a PCV, she has developed a pilot program in English and Information Technology with teachers and students at the Marina Orth Rural School, a school of 350 students from kindergarten through high school. This program makes the Marina Orth school the first public bilingual school in the nation. It is . . .

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From Kings Highway To Colombia by Ron Schwarz (Colombia 1961-63)

Ron Schwarz (Colombia 1961-63) is an anthropologist who has been writing his Peace Corps story, Kennedy’s Orphans. Several years ago we met via the Internet when he took an on-line writing I was giving on ‘writing your Peace Corps memoir.’ This opening chapter was recently published in the Brooklyn Eagle. • From Kings Highway to Colombia By Ron Schwarz (Colombia 1961–63) BROOKLYN – June 8, 1961 . . . my mother answered the call. I’m playing tennis with Dickie Cowan on center court at Forest Hills where the U.S. Open was staged until 1978. It was not an officially sanctioned match and our access to the grounds was due neither to club membership, nor a USLTA ranking. Rather, it was an ancillary benefit of our first paid job after graduating from Colgate and Harvard … painting seat numbers on the wooden stadium benches. Match over and outside the stadium, Dickie, . . .

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Taking Criticism: Are You Man (or Woman) Enough To Be A Writer?

Years ago when I was an undergraduate in the Writers Institute at Saint Louis University I had a wonderful creative writing professor who taught me what publishing and the world of literature was all about. He told us then–and there were twenty-five of us would-be novelists in this freshman class–that what we write would be judged by him, not against the person in the next desk, but against the whole cannon of literature. “You want to write and be read?” he said. “Well this is your competition, these are the great writers of the world. They are the standards I use to evaluate your prose.” And then he pointed to a bookshelf of the greatest books in the world. Well, I never did very well against the Great Writers of Western Civilization, but occasionally he would nod approvingly over a sentence of mine, or the way I used a metaphor, and . . .

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So You've Written A Book. Congratulations! Now Go Hire Yourself An Editor

When Faulkner finished A Fable ( his 17th book) he brought it to New York and to his editor Bennett Cerf at Random House. Cerf read the novel and put Faulkner in an office and told him to rewrite it. When Thomas Wolfe was writing his novels in his New York apartment, his famous editor, Maxwell Perkins, knocked on the door, came in, took the manuscript away from Wolfe and told him, “you’re done now, Tom” and went off and edited Wolfe’s pages into a publishable book. The reason for a publisher is the editing talent that they bring to a manuscript. These editing skills are not generally available to most self-published writers. Yes, a few RPCV writers have gone out of their way and hired editors, mostly for copy editing, not line editing, or editing for content. These are three different types of editing: 1) content; 2) line editing; 3) copy editing. It is rare that you . . .

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E-books And Your Books

You might have read in the New York Times  last week (Thursday, August 12, 2010) how Pete Hamill is publishing his next book They Are Us, about immigration in the United States but not in print. No, his publisher is going  straight-to an e-book. In the same day’s Times, this in the business section, had an article on Barnes & Noble, how they are retooling to stay relevant as e-books take off. According to the Association of American Publishers in the first five months of 2009, e-books made up 2.9 percent of trade book sales. In the same period of 2010, sales of e-books, which generally cost less than hardcovers, grew to 8.5 percent. All of this is because of the new Apple iPad, Amazon Kindle, and the Nook devices. What does this mean? Well, Carolyn Reidy, the chief executive of Simon & Schuster, says that e-books make up about . . .

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Who Was The Most Disliked Staffer in D.C.? More Candidates!

While I was limiting the selection of the most disliked person at the Peace Corps to just the first few years, RPCVs who came along later to the agency have other candidates and many singled out Lloyd Pearson, who, according to them 1) brought all the lawyers from USAID into the agency; 2) kept Jody Olson nailed to her chair so the only RPCV on senior staff couldn’t visit PCVs; and (3) then used his Peace Corps position (I think he was chief of staff) to get a great job for himself at…USAID! He isn’t the first person to use the Peace Corps as the shining star on a resume and get ahead in Washington, nor will he be the last. Remember Barbara Zartman? She was the deputy director, then Acting Director of the Peace Corps with the departure of Elaine Chao, and took advantage of her few remaining days as a Bush political appointee by immediately . . .

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