The ARC of History is Long: A Book Timeline

From the time I first started calling myself a writer, I wished I could see into the future, to see a version of myself who had finished a manuscript. Even as I worked on my first novel, I felt little certainty about if or when I’d finish. Then, when it was done and I sought an agent, I wondered how long it would take to find one. With my agent’s help, a publisher picked it up, and I wondered about the steps of the process that would make it a book.

Writers talk about all this, sure, but not with any specificity. And I didn’t have anyone to ask.

I still don’t really understand how these things work in general — everyone’s experience, of course, is different. But I know what I’ve done and what’s happened to my book. Here is the timeline of FAMOUS MEN WHO NEVER LIVED, from start to …well, not finish. Till now.

Writing:

June 2015: I begin writing FAMOUS MEN WHO NEVER LIVED

March 2016: I complete a full draft

That summer: I revise the whole book

Querying Agents:

September 2016: I start sending the manuscript to agents

January 2017: as New Year’s resolution, I follow up with those agents who haven’t yet rejected the book outright, including (spoiler) Stacia Decker of DCL, who is my agent now

1/5/17: Stacia requests the full

1/16/17: she emails to ask if we can talk on the phone. (I was in Trader Joe’s in the checkout line when I read this email on my phone. I still feel good every time I’m there.)

1/17/17: we have The Call; Stacia offers representation

1/24/17: we sign contract

Querying Editors:

2/3/17: pre-submission revision and review of pitch letter complete. Book is officially on sub

Mid-February 2017: phone conversations with prospective TV/film subrights agents. I decide to work with Sean Daily at Hotchkiss and Associates

March and April 2017: Rejections! Stacia sends me email updates with batches of editors’ emails pasted in verbatim. These emails are invariably nice but not helpful. There seem to be near misses

5/4/17: Stacia emails to say she’s heard from Tony Perez at Tin House Books and that he is “devouring” the book. Sounds promising!

5/12/17: Tony is interested and wants a phone call

5/15/17: I talk to Tony on the phone. He tells me what he likes about the book and what he thinks needs work. He sells me on Tin House as a publisher

5/18/17: Tin House makes official offer

Contract Negotiation:

5/22/17: all parties come to an agreement about the contract’s terms

6/15/17: final contract is finally drawn up and I sign it

One excruciating week later: TH countersigns

End of June 2017: I get the first half of the advance

July 2017: sale announced on Publisher’s Marketplace

Edits, Copyedits and Proofreading:

Summer 2017: Tony reads through the book a few times

9/7/17: Tony sends Edit Letter suggesting restructure

September-December 2017: back and forth with revisions

1/15/18: my contractual delivery date. I send final revised MS

March 2018: the book goes to the copyeditor, Anne Horowitz

5/29/18: I receive copyedits from Anne

6/18/18: I turn in changes based on copyedits

10/3/18: Tony tells me proofreading corrections are on their way!

That’s all so far!

Buy the book now

 

Been Fighting Since

My short story “Been Fighting Since” won second place in phoebe’s 2018 fiction contest! Karan Mahajan, author of The Association of Small Bombs, selected it.

“Been Fighting Since” is about twins, child soldiers, the old/new city of Berlin and the mysterious liminal state of blackout drinking. But really, it’s about whether it’s ever possible for someone who hasn’t experienced trauma to talk about it with someone who has. Even if she loves him. Especially if she loves him.

Last year, the story was longlisted for the Berlin Writing Prize. Now, it’s got a home online, in phoebe 47.2. Here’s how it starts.

 

Myriam drinks coffee with the ghost of Joseph’s twin as dusk falls on the Love Parade passing through downtown Berlin in a storm of techno noise. From where they sit, she can hear the amplified relentless bass and the roar of an intoxicated crowd on Strasse des 17. Juni. Earlier, she swallowed one little MDMA with the word “sky” printed on it; she knows that the drug must still be in her system because of what she’s seeing now. She sips her espresso.

Across the table from her, Joseph’s brother swings his legs. He is barefoot, wearing red shorts and a clean white tank-top. His name is Agun and he appears to be about eight years old. According to Joseph, he’s been missing – presumed dead – for two decades.

“Where is he?” Agun asks. His voice is deeper than one might expect, and he speaks English with the same incongruously posh accent that Joseph picked up in provisional schools at the refugee camps of his youth.

“I think he’s with our friends.”

“Joseph can climb higher in the thorn tree than anyone,” Agun tells her. “He always climbs when Baba calls us. Only I will come. It makes me angry.”

 

 

Read the rest — and all the other good stuff from the issue — now! For free!

The Writers’ Room of Boston knows how to throw a party

The Writers’ Room of Boston Fellowship named me as Finalist for 2018-2019. At the WROB reading and celebration last month, I got the chance to meet lots of the other Fellows and hear about their exciting projects! (And I ate lots of free cheese! And when I left my notebook and library book at the party, someone brought them down for me. So overall, 10/10.)

I hope to get some work done there in the future.

Check out my bio on their website.

 

Playing OPOSSUM

OPOSSUM’s beautifully-designed Fall 2017 issue is now out in print (and vinyl!) and available for sale. The issue includes “The Beard,” my short story about loneliness, culling produce, and the unpredictable repercussions of getting a visible tattoo.

Put it on the turntable and give it a spin.

Pushcart Prize Special Mention

I heard from a stranger that the Pushcart folks had given my short story about killer killer whales, “Pods,” a Special Mention in the The Pushcart Prize XLI anthology. Turns out the rumors are true — see the photographic evidence provided by my mom! (I’m listed under my old name, which is how the story appeared.)

Thanks to Pinckney Benedict for nominating me, to Fjords Review for printing the story, and to the anthology for including me in such good company!

And RIP Tilikum.

 

The near future Near Future

FAMOUS MEN WHO NEVER LIVED, my debut novel, will be published next year. It’s literary sci-fi/alternate history that explores New York City, immigration issues, and how people deal with loss.  (I’ll tag this post with one of my favorite disorienting NYC pictures.)

I’m delighted to be working with Tin House Books to bring this book to readers!

 

Identity crisis

I got married so I changed my name! (Did you know this is a complicated and ridiculous process? It is!)

I don’t mean to confuse anybody. My parents gave me a perfectly good surname, of which I’m fond. I published my first stories as K Brattin, and I won a fellowship as her.

But, personally and professionally, I’m stoked to be K Chess now.