Do you have questions for a Literary Agent? #agentchat #amwriting


I’ve been away for a while– traveling and recuperating,  but today I’m back with my  writer’s guest post series in this blog.

It is with great pleasure that I now present Andrea Pasion-Flores from the Jacaranda Literary Agency. She’s a joy to talk to, extremely kind and helpful, yet a thorough professional– a spirit that is reflected in her answers below:

1. You’re both an author and a literary agent. How did this happen, how do you balance the two roles, and how do they affect each other?

For Love and Kisses: Andrea Pasion-Flores

For Love and Kisses: Andrea Pasion-Flores

It’s difficult, but I try to make the time. I’m also a mom and a college teacher. But I find that my many roles feed on each other. My teaching (it helps that I teach literature) and my being a writer certainly help me spot a good story and allow me to help the writers in our list improve their writing.

2. As an agent, what are the sort of books are you looking for?

I’m looking for the distinct voice, fabulous narrative, mastery of language. It’s hard to describe. I guess I want to be blown away.

3. As a reader, who are your favorite authors, and why?

There are so many! At the moment Aravind Adiga, Junot Diaz, Mohsin Hamid, Chimamanda Adichie, Jhumpa Lahiri, Gilda Cordero-Fernando, Kerima Polotan, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Salman Rushdie, Jose Y. Dalisay, Sally Gardner, Zadie Smith come to mind… so many!

4. What was the last book you read as a reader, and not an agent?

Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner–fantastic, young adult dystopia. I want to buy all her books!

5. What book, published in recent times, do you think should be more recognized, and one that you think is overrated?

Haha. This is a trick question! I think Asian lit in general should be recognized. It’s sorely underrated and not as widely available. I think most of the independent presses, carried by the indie bookstores, are doing a lot of good stuff. Unfortunately, we’re all used to going to the mainstream bookstores to buy what’s pushed by mainstream media–especially the kind with the movie tie-ins. The answer to the second part of your question is hinted. But, having said that, the “overrated” have their markets–and they do serve an important purpose: they get people into the habit of reading! Besides, who doesn’t enjoy a quick read or two now and then? I certainly do. So I say the overrated books are great. I’d love to pick some out and push them myself.

6. As an author, what is the aspect of writing that interests you the most?

I like discovering where a story will take me, each story being different from the past stories I’ve written although in some sense the same. When I wrote the stories in my book, I didn’t quite realize how easily they fit into each other when I put them together years after they were written.

7. As an agent, what is the one concrete piece of advice you would give to an aspiring fiction writer?

The real writing happens in the revision. One of my creative writing teachers said this to me. The more painful the process, the easier it reads. The first draft shouldn’t be given to anyone, so don’t give them to me. If you let an agent read a first draft, and it’s not great, you’re not likely to be taken on.

8. Tell us something about your latest publication. Where can readers find the book?

Ken Spillman’s blurb reads thus:
“Andrea Pasion-Flores unpacks the black boxes of everyday disasters. Among the casualties are women burned by men and children bruised by the turbulence of relationships around them. Among futile love affairs, irretrievable marriages and unspoken loss, we are brought face to face with hungry ghosts and consuming frailties.”

It’s a collection of stories written over a 10-year period. That span of time yielded many other things for me aside from stories, such as a government job, three kids (two of them twins), etc. So it does feel like a slim volume, given the amount of time it took. However, there was also that feeling that I have to bring out the best of what I’ve written thus far so I do feel those are seven good ones (with varying length and styles to show a range). In Singapore, there are a few copies at the moment with Closet Full of Books.

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Andrea Pasion-Flores

Andrea Pasion-Flores

Andrea Pasion-Flores  is the former Executive Director of the National Book Development Board of the Philippines, where she was known for her pioneering work introducing high-impact literary events to the country. Andrea is also a copyright lawyer and teaches English at the University of the Philippines as a member of the faculty of the Department of English and Comparative Literature. She brings her experience in these fields into her role as an agent with the Jacaranda Literary Agency. She is also a Philippine contemporary author in English, and the author of bestselling book Have Baby Will Date, as well as her recently published short story collection: For Love and Kisses.

Dear reader, Have you read any of the authors Andrea mentions? Are you looking for a literary agent? Do you have any questions for Andrea Pasion-Flores? I’ll be randomly choosing one reader from the comments below, to receive a gift copy of Andrea’s book– so fire away!

 

Are You Really Dead When They Say You Are?


The Evolution of Death

The Evolution of Death

What is the one certainty of life? Death, right? But it is the least discussed of topics. People call you morbid, negative, depressed if you talk about it.

To me, since we’ve all got to face it some day, what’s the harm in touching on it once in a while?

I recently came across an article that talks about the moment of death, and what fascinated me was that the scientific community is still uncertain about the exact moment of death:

 “Most of us would agree that King Tut and the other mummified ancient Egyptians are dead, and that you and I are alive. Somewhere in between these two states lies the moment of death. But where is that? The old standby — and not such a bad standard — is the stopping of the heart. But the stopping of a heart is anything but irreversible. We’ve seen hearts start up again on their own inside the body, outside the body, even in someone else’s body. Christian Barnard was the first to show us that a heart could stop in one body and be fired up in another.

As I went on to read it, I was intrigued by the concept of life residing in various parts of the human body, not just in the brain or heart: (Warning: this gets a little gory)

“What’s alive and what’s dead breaks down when we get above the cellular level,” Sorenson says. “Pathologists don’t feel comfortable that a brain is dead until the cell walls break down. True cell death is a daylong process.”

…Cell death is far removed from brain death. As shown, brain death can be declared when only a few brain cells have actually died. Cells in the remainder of the body are alive and kicking. Brain-dead patients being sustained as beating-heart cadavers are still supplying most of their body’s cells with blood and thus oxygen, so total cell death is nowhere in sight. Cell death begins in earnest when the heart stops beating and the lungs cease to breathe. No longer being pumped through the body, the blood will drain from the blood vessels at the top of the body and collect in the lower part. The upper body will become pale, the lower body turning much darker, looking bruised. This is livor mortis.

Even at this point, however, most cells are still not dead. After the heart stops, brain cells will die in a few minutes. Muscle cells can hold on for several hours, and skin and bone cells can stay alive for days. Cells switch from aerobic (with oxygen) respiration to anaerobic (without oxygen) when the blood stops circulating. A by-product of anaerobic respiration is lactic acid, which is what makes your arm muscles hurt during arm wrestling or your legs hurt during a hard run. When you are alive, your blood flow clears out the acid, but in a dead person the body stiffens. This is rigor mortis. Rigor mortis usually begins about three hours after the heart stops and lasts thirty-six hours. Eventually all of the cells die. After rigor mortis come initial decay, putrefaction, black putrefaction, and butyric fermentation. Somewhere in these processes — taking as long as a year, depending on the conditions and the weather — is a moment of death. Where that is may be impossible to determine.

To get a better picture of what I’m talking about, read the article– because it talks not just about the moment of death, but the question of selfhood, and how important human beings really are, are we the ultimate in evolution?

Do you ever wonder about death? Do we think more about death as we grow older? What is death, really? What is the moment of death? Are you really dead when they say you are?

Overwhelmed By Beauty?

Overwhelmed By Beauty?


Travel has always been one of my passions.

But now, at the end of my first (of many, hopefully) Italian trips, I feel a little overwhelmed.

Too much beauty: in art, in nature, in people.

This here is my third attempt at blogging from my phone, this time on the train from Rome to Milan. Love that my phone lets me not only click pictures and edit them, but also make collages– all from a train doing 240 km an hour.

I’d been to various parts of Asia so far, and loved it— but my first European trip has left me breathless and craving for more. Here are a few clicks from the Rome Museum ( which do only moderate justice to the sheer grace and grandeur of everything I saw)

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Have you ever felt overwhelmed by any country you’ve been to?

Are Mistakes Such Terrible Things?


I’m taking a break from my blog, and in the time I’m away, Kate McManus has kindly offered to write me a post. This blog talks about questions surrounding life and writing, and I think the questions she asks in this post fit in neatly with my take on writing, life, and everything else in between.

Take it away, Kate!

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“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honourable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing”

George Bernard Shaw

Mistakes in Writing

Mistakes in Writing

We don’t like them and twist ourselves inside out to avoid them. But are mistakes such terrible things ? It goes back to early conditioning in childhood. We are told there is a right and a wrong way to approach a task. It’s a simple framework our society provides to keep us from the stress and chaos of having to make our own decisions before we have developed that capacity. It’s something we need to outgrow and as we mature, come to appreciate that everything is multifaceted and can be both wrong and right at the same time.

“Why did I do that? I knew it wasn’t going to work out” A friend once exclaimed to me after going on a holiday- which produced another destructive romantic fling.To heal deep patterns in our life, it’s sometimes necessary to repeat them in order to gain the clarity and consciousness which will manifest permanent change. Most of our patterns are built unconsciously over time and so require this deep level of commitment to awareness of the triggers which produce the mistakes or errors of judgement. In this case, a repetitive mistake can become a healing tool, a portal to new life

To fully access our creative imagination, we have to let go of the right/wrong, rational /linear paradigm. Writing is one big mistake to which we apply the remedy of editing so that it can make sense to our readers. As Ernest Hemingway perspicaciously once said “The first draft of anything is shit.” Struggling for perfection in the early stages of writing is sadomasochistic and ultimately unproductive. Let the mistakes flow! Can you imagine the first draft of James Joyce “Ulysses” ?

Mistakes when you travel can produce fortunate adventures; It’s the mistake which makes your journey unique. That time when you wandered away from the planned route and discovered a completely different part of a city. Mistakes are a large part of the road less travelled.

Is life itself a mistake? Cosmologists now advise us us about the serendipitous evolution of human life; it’s inherent impossibility and fragility which evolved into the dominant life force on the planet.What a happy accident for all of us on planet earth!

Kate McManus travel blogger

Kate McManus

Kate is a blogger, writer, astrologer and healer, who travels around Australia doing house sitting. As an animal lover, she enjoys the companionship of all kinds of pets as she explores different parts of the country. Kate applies an understanding of the Astrological Archetypes to her life and travels. In between house sits, she likes to visit her family and two grandchildren in Canberra.

You can visit her blog at http://www.lightravellerkate.wordpress.com and Facebook page “The Conscious Cosmic Traveller “

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So, what’s your reaction when you realize you’ve made a mistake? How do you treat someone who’s made a mistake– a friend, a partner, a spoude, a sibling, a child, a parent? Is there a mistake you’re glad you made?

Ever have fun simply walking the streets?


I’ve been to quite a few countries but have never had as much fun walking the streets as here in Milan.

The people seem to walk in poetry, the street cleaners are dandified, old men and women take pride in their clothes and walk with a spring in their step, kids are a joy, no tantrums, even the dogs seem content, no unseemly dragging– yesterday I saw a Doberman stroll off leash tongue lolling out in the D’uomo piazza.

Been taking pictures in my head, not many on the phone– but here are a few random clicks….and this my first attempt at blogging from my phone.

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Would You write for free?


I recently read this article, about writers being asked to write for free.

People who would consider it a bizarre breach of conduct to expect anyone to give them a haircut or a can of soda at no cost will ask you, with a straight face and a clear conscience, whether you wouldn’t be willing to write an essay or draw an illustration for them for nothing. They often start by telling you how much they admire your work, although not enough, evidently, to pay one cent for it. “Unfortunately we don’t have the budget to offer compensation to our contributors…” is how the pertinent line usually starts. But just as often, they simply omit any mention of payment.

This is partly a side effect of our information economy, in which “paying for things” is a quaint, discredited old 20th-century custom, like calling people after having sex with them….Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again.

I empathize.

I’ve been asked, more number of times than I care to remember, to write for free. Till date, I haven’t written non-fiction for free. Fiction, though, is another matter. Some of my published stories were included in anthologies for free– some of them for charity (which I loved) and some just like that (which I went along with, because these are lit-zines with not much money). A few were paid for, but at a much lower rate than what my clients pay for my non-fiction articles. Apparently, there are very few markets for literary short stories, and most of them don’t pay much, and are notoriously tough to break into.

So far, I’m okay with it, because, I really write fiction as a passion, the way I keep aquariums or garden. Only, I’m much, much more passionate about fiction, both reading and writing, than I ever will be about my fish or plants. So, I’ve never considered making a living by writing fiction any more than I’ve thought of earning money by rearing fish or plants– I’m not saying that’s ideal, just that it hasn’t bothered me so far.

So, should I insist on getting paid for my fiction? (Naive question, some would say.)

As an author, have you written fiction for free? If yes, why? If no, why not? And if you’ve been paid, was it enough to pay your bills?

As a reader, do you ever wonder about whether the people whose work you enjoy get paid? Why, in your opinion, is there a stereotype of a starving artist or writer, but a surgeon, accountant or plumber is never expected to work for free?

Do you think an author should give away free stories like musicians give away free music? Is writing for free ‘good promotion’? Have at it in the comments– I need your opinion here! One randomly selected commenter will receive a copy of Tom Benson’s short story collection Smoke and Mirrors …which brings me to my regular monthly feature:

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BLOGS I RECOMMEND: GIFTS TO FRIENDS

As part of my pledge in my A to Z Reflections post, and Supporting Indie authors I’ll be buying and then gifting books by Indie authors to all my three Recommended Blog Friends today the 16th of June, just like I did on the 16th of May. The idea is to simply pick up books I like, by Indie authors I like, and give them away to folks I like, each month.

These are the three bloggers I recommend today, and I’m gifting them tokens of my appreciation…books that I like!

Blogs you must read!

Blogs I Recommend

         MICHELLE STANLEY:  I can’t say enough about how supportive and kind Michelle is, and also an amazing writer. She is just the reader I can think of for One Beautiful Child, superbly crafted stories by Annalisa Crawford, my blog friend from Amlokiblogs.

              GARY PENNINCK : a dear soul and kind friend, who, while berating the A to Z Challenge has given it more publicity and love than many who have participated in it.  I’m gifting him a copy of The Path Through the Eye of Another by Davey Northcott , a supporter of this blog. Gary is just the sort of guy who would enjoy a lyrical book, full of emotions and a passion to survive, and a ‘good fight for what is right’ kind of story.

             M. L. SWIFT:  a good blog friend, a wonderful writer, and terrific blogger. He has recently come back to blogging after a short hiatus. To him a I gift Smoke and Mirrors a collection of delicious short stories by Tom Benson, another of my supportive blog friends, and a prolific, versatile author.

To all three of you, thank you for your support and I hope you have tons of visitors on your blogs this coming year. I don’t expect you to do anything with the book other than enjoy it, and if you want to support Indie Authors, too, buy a copy for your friends or family!

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Dear reader, what are your thoughts on the questions above? Do you know any of the bloggers I recommend?

By Buying from Amazon, are you Supporting a Bully?


Amazon and Hachette

Amazon and Hachette

If you read or write books, you might be aware of the Amazon Hachette debacle. If you aren’t, this will give you the gist of what Amazon and Hachette are negotiating this very moment.

If you’re an author or reader, (the majority audience of this blog) you’ve all dealt with Amazon in one way or the other.

On the one hand:

Amazon is a behemoth that has leased you your ebooks and is fully able to lay its claim on them any time it so chooses. It could also selectively delete books from your device, without notice.

The New York Times is calling Amazon a Monopsony, the mirror image of Monopoly.

On the other hand:

Amazon has enlarged the book revenue pie for everyone by generating real e-book revenue with the Kindle digital reader, as well as with “the world’s first viable mass-market self-publishing platform,” which has enabled “thousands of new authors to make a living from their writing for the first time in their lives.” (Original article here )

Some independent authors selling via Amazon are celebrating and then,  there are people who’re saying this:

“Unlike almost every other CEO of a publicly-traded company, Bezos does not consider his most important constituency to be shareholders, followed by the board of directors. Bezos knows that if customers are happy, everything else tends to fall into line in the long run…

..Bezos doesn’t ignore profit margins, he just takes them out of the hides of everyone except customers. He pays terrible wages, especially to low-end employees, strong-arms suppliers and business partners to lower prices, and invests in technologies and tactics that will reduce costs, often by firing more people…I would never want to work at Amazon. But I have to admit I like buying from the company.”

This is where my questions come in.

Do you buy books on Amazon?  If Amazon is fighting to lower ebook prices should it win your support as a reader? Do you sell books on Amazon? Are you concerned that the fate of the Hachette authors may one day be yours? Is Amazon becoming too powerful by selling everything from books to electronics to diapers? Do You ever feel that by buying from Amazon, you’re supporting a bully– but that Amazon is simply too good to resist? Have at it in the comments!

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And here are today’s Bloggers I recommend visiting!

As part of helping spread the love in my community, I recommend three bloggers on each post, and today’s bloggers are:

Mishika Jenkins or Harliqueen: She’s a writer, and talks a lot about her writing process, in a way that always makes me go aha, and smile!

Vidya Sury: She’s a ray of sunshine, wherever she goes. Her blogs are for you if you look for positivity and conviction in your blog explorations.

Heather M Gardner: If you’re going to make one new blog friend this June, let it be her– a more supportive and kind blog friend is hard to find.