Hey, guys — could use…

Hey, guys -- could use some advice on a publicity postcard. This would be a roughly 4x6 card, suitable for handing out at WorldCon, my high school reunion, this South Asian lit festival I'm speaking at, etc. Normally this kind of thing would have a cover photo of the book, of course, which we don't have yet. I don't think we have a publicity budget yet either, or at least HarperCollins hasn't volunteered to pay for these. So I'm just going to go ahead and run up a batch on my own, which is fine. What I can't decide is what exactly to put on it. This is what I have so far -- include it all? Leave some of this out? Edit down the description (which I just chopped out of my abstract and is probably too academic, argh) to half the length? If it's too much information for one side, I can do it double-sided. Input, please...


Bodies in Motion
Mary Anne Mohanraj

A deftly intricate interweaving of voices and generations. These stories are gorgeous, sexy, often sad, but never simply so. They are, above all, stories of survival and Mohanraj tells them beautifully. A writer to watch!

-- Karen Joy Fowler, author of the New York Times-bestselling The Jane Austen Book Club

Bodies in Motion is a collection of interlinked stories, tracing the paths of two families from Sri Lanka in 1939 to present day America and Sri Lanka. Over the course of the book, we experience intimate moments in the lives of family members as they traverse difficult geographic, social, and emotional terrain. The stories examine the characters' attempts to reconcile the conflicting demands of social duty and individual desires. They also raise questions of identity, especially for immigrants and their first generation children, whose engagement with their own ethnic identities becomes politicized.

These personal stories play out against the backdrop of the Sri Lankan civil war, the ethnic troubles between the minority Tamils and the majority Sinhalese. The book examines the ways in which both ethnic and gendered political realities intrude on private lives. It also looks at the ways in which the stories which get told serve to reinforce powerful cultural structures, while the stories which are perceived as subversive are silenced, thereby putting individuals in the frustrating position of constantly relearning the lessons their parents and grandparents had painfully learned before them. In the end, these stories hope to illustrate the complexity of the ways in which people try to find happiness for themselves and for their loved ones, despite well-intentioned relatives, despite impulses toward safe conformity, despite war and chaos.

[small photo of me?]

HarperCollins, July 2005
$22.95
ISBN: 0060781181

11 thoughts on “Hey, guys — could use…”

  1. I vote for a more impressionistic overview–“Over the course of the book, we see x, who sends his younger daughter to Sri Lanka so she want date white boys like her older sister; we see y, who punishes her husband for his infidelities by serving him greasy curries; etc.”

    I also vote for the appearance of the word “sexual” or “erotic” somewhere in those paragraphs.

  2. I also think that mentioning specific characters would help to personalize it, to get the reader hooked and make them wonder what happens to this character.

  3. Karen Fowler’s description is beautiful. Yours leaves me a little overwhelmed. It suggests that you’re trying to sum up the entire immigrant experience – which seems doubtful. Why are these people interesting? Why are your books more than every other “being an immigrant is stressful and confusing”? I think we all (loosely speaking) know the basics: intergenerational strife, fitting in with peers, dating woes. Tell me why these characters (or your way of telling me about them) is unique. If you could elaborate on “It also looks at the ways in which the stories which get told serve to reinforce powerful cultural structures” in a less thesis-abstract language, that might hook me.

  4. (I agree with much of the other advice – make it more of a hook of some form and less academic)

    In addition I would think that you may want to use the card to hook people in a bit more about who you are. Sure, searching for Mary Anne on google will get them here – but why not link directly to your website on the card – something as simple as “www.mamohanraj.com” below you name would be a start.

    If you can summarize some of what you have done already that might be a good starting – perhaps something like “from the editor of … and author of …. comes her new collection of short stories tracing the paths of two Sri Lankan families across the 20th century” (or something like that).

    I would suggest opening with a paragraph or two perhaps – something that would leave the reader wanting more, the follow with a short explanation, Karen Joy Fowler’s quote, a closing call to action (for more see http://www.mamohanraj.com; “buy the book in July 2005 at your local bookstore or Amazon.com”; “go to http://www.mamohanraj.com to sign up for the mailing list and see when Mary Anne will be in your town” etc.

    Then the ISBN #, Price, publication date etc.

    (you might in lieue of the cover design the back card with something like “cover by …” or at least consider where you can add that text when the front will have the cover art.

    Hope this is useful – and good luck!
    (you may want to consider varying this by audience if you know that you will be handing them out to particular groups – especially dependant on whether or not the audience would already know you.

    Shannon

  5. Shannon, that was really helpful, thanks. I don’t know why it’s so difficult to think clearly about this stuff when it’s your own work. I could write up one of these for somebody else, no problem!

  6. This is better, I think? Thanks everyone, for your advice!

    ***

    Bodies in Motion
    Mary Anne Mohanraj
    http://www.mamohanraj.com

    From the author of Kathryn in the City and the editor of Aqua Erotica and The Best of Strange Horizons comes her new novel-in-stories, a linked collection tracing the paths of two Sri Lankan-American families over eighty years and two continents.


    A deftly intricate interweaving of voices and generations. These stories are gorgeous, sexy, often sad, but never simply so. They are, above all, stories of survival and Mohanraj tells them beautifully. A writer to watch!

    — Karen Joy Fowler

    This book offers intimate moments in the lives of family members as they traverse difficult geographic, social, and emotional terrain. As you read it, you will meet these people:


    – Mangai, a sixteen-year-old girl who falls in love with her brother’s wife, in Sri Lanka of the 1940’s

    – Villa, who must face the consequences of his actions when his children are put in peril during the early troubles of the civil war

    – Kuyila, born and raised in America, who agrees to go to Sri Lanka for an arranged marriage in 1979

    – Himali, whose parents are killed in the fighting, and who turns to an old lover, now married, for aid

    These stories focus on individual decisions regarding sexuality and marriage, set against the backdrop of the Sri Lankan ethnic troubles, in which Tamil guerrilla fighters come into conflict with the majority Sinhalese government. These stories illustrate the complexity of the ways in which people try to find happiness for themselves and for their loved ones, despite well-intentioned relatives, despite impulses toward safe conformity, despite war and chaos and terror.

    Visit http://www.mamohanraj.com and sign up for Mary Anne’s newsletter to receive a reminder in July 2005, when the book will be available in your local bookstore and at Amazon.com.

    HarperCollins, July 2005
    ISBN: 0060781181
    price $22.95

  7. Kill the second person. I found the “you” and “we” distracting in both. Either make it in the background or rework the sentences to get rid of it, except in the final paragraph (your book store).

    As you read it, you will meet these people:

    I would either cut this or rework as something like the following:

    Some of the stories to enjoy:

    You could delete “despite” from all clauses but the first one in the second to last paragraph.

    I would vote for removing the editor of Aqua Erotica because it may turn off potential new readers who aren’t into erotica, but are into sensual stories [though if some of the stories are erotica, forget this advice].

    Otherwise, very good.

  8. Still feels like too much detail for a postcard.

    Lead with the KJF quote; that’s much stronger than Kathryn in the City. Your audience is more likely to recognize KJF than Kathryn. And leave in the “New York times bestselling” appelation; nice to get those words on your card!

    Language still too academic rather than lyrical: “as they traverse difficult geographic, social, and emotional terrain”; “illustrate the complexity of the ways in which people try to find happiness”.

    I also think some connective tissue between the characters would be nice — some sense of connection between them.

    So how about this:

    Bodies in Motion
    Mary Anne Mohanraj

    “A deftly intricate interweaving of voices and generations. These stories are gorgeous, sexy, often sad, but never simply so. They are, above all, stories of survival and Mohanraj tells them beautifully. A writer to watch!”
    — Karen Joy Fowler, author of the New York Times-bestselling The Jane Austen Book Club

    Mangai is sixteen and living in 1940s Sri Lanka when she falls in love with her brother’s wife. Villa must face the consequences of his own actions when the civil war endangers his children. [can we make this more vivid? it’s vague — e.g. Villa is haunted by his own revolutionary past when his children are captured by the Tamil Tigers]. Kuyila, born far from the war in America, decides to return to marry a boy she has never met [or whatever].

    Poignant, erotic, vivid, and terrible, _Bodies in Motion_ tells the stories of N families and M generations, from the {battlefields and bazaars?} of Sri Lanka to the {classrooms and streets?} of Chicago, through laughter and betrayal, silence and rebellion, exile and return.

    HarperCollins, July 2005

    ISBN: 0060781181

    price $22.95

    Mary Anne Mohanraj edited the acclaimed anthology Aqua Erotica and founded the Speculative Literature Foundation. Sign up for her newsletter at http://www.mamohanraj.com!

  9. Dude… whoever you are Benjamin Rosenbaum, I’m going to contract you to do my postcards down the line. Nicely done, very moving and really makes me want to read the collection.

  10. Call me crazy – but if I had to pick one book, the original description or Ben’s – I’d go with the original. This one seems TOO mainstream, like the average supermarket novel. I don’t read too many of those, but aren’t there intergenerational tales – of the South, generally? I know and you know that MaryAnne is too intelligent to give us Gone with the Wind, but that doesn’t come through in this description. Well – maybe she wants it to be GWTW in Sri Lanka, at least if that will help it sell… I think I’m getting the analogy wrong, but you know what I mean?

  11. “as they traverse difficult geographic, social, and emotional terrain” does seem overly academic, but “Poignant, erotic, vivid, and terrible… through laughter and betrayal, silence and rebellion, exile and return” strikes me as being way too florid… plus I really like the whole “despite… despite… despite” bit. There’s gotta be a middle ground. How about this?

    Bodies in Motion

    Mary Anne Mohanraj

    A deftly intricate interweaving of voices and generations. These stories are gorgeous, sexy, often sad, but never simply so. They are, above all, stories of survival and Mohanraj tells them beautifully. A writer to watch!

    — Karen Joy Fowler, author of the New York Times-bestselling The Jane Austen Book Club

    Mangai is sixteen in 1940s Sri Lanka when she falls in love with her brother’s wife. Villa must face the consequences of his own inaction when civil war endangers his children. Kuyila, born and raised in America, agrees to go to an unfamiliar homeland for an arranged marriage in 1979. [I’d like to work Minal in here as the final example, expanding the scope to the end of the century and across the ocean.]

    Focusing on individuals across four generations and two continents, these stories illustrate the complex ways in which people pursue happiness for themselves and for their loved ones, despite well-intentioned relatives, despite impulses toward safe conformity, despite war and chaos and terror.

    HarperCollins, July 2005

    ISBN: 0060781181

    price $22.95

    Mary Anne Mohanraj is the editor of Aqua Erotica and The Best of Strange Horizons and founder of the Speculative Literature Foundation. Sign up for her newsletter at http://www.mamohanraj.com!

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