Archive for the ‘author event’ category

Our New Author


We had a delightful lunch with our newest author, Steve Wiegenstein, last Wednesday, so I thought I’d share a few photos of the moment directly preceding Steve signing the contract. This is Steve with his lovely family (and Kristy grinning on the right–she’s just as excited as I am about Steve’s first novel and future as an author):


I’ll follow up soon on how you can follow Steve on Facebook, Twitter, and his blog.


Donald Ray Pollock & The Devil All The Time at Subterranean Books


I have a soft spot for Donald Ray Pollock. As a new (completely unknown) publisher, I asked Fred Venturini, our debut author, to make a list of his dream team of early readers to see who we could approach for writing a blurb for the back cover. He came up with seven names and I set about to find contact information for each of the authors. I wrote and rewrote (multiple times) an e-mail just to initiate contact, give a bit of background about BSP and about Fred and ask whether or not the author would be willing to accept an ARC from us and, if he liked it, consider blurbing it.

Then, nervously, I hit send.

Right away, I got a note back from Don saying that Fred’s book sounded right up his alley and that he’d be happy to give it a read. (I eventually was contacted by four of the seven authors, two blurbed the book, one said it was a little too far outside his traditional genre, and one was a little late on replying but has been a big supporter of BSP and Fred ever since publication.) The others I never heard from. After the ARCS were ready, I sent the book out to the readers and in no time at all Don had read it, written a fantastic blurb, and had given BSP and Fred an adrenaline rush from which we haven’t quite recovered. (And talk about adrenaline, have you seen our new trailer for The Samaritan? Check it out here:

So…when I heard that Don’s new book was coming out and that he would be reading at Subterranean Books in St. Louis, I knew I had to be there. And I was not disappointed. (By the way, the folks at Sub Books are awesome.)

Don is friendly and gracious (even when a fan girl–a.k.a., me–barges through the door and starts blathering on and on about how much we loved his book and how excited we were to meet him and thank him in person for giving BSP and Fred a chance, yada yada yada…) in a quiet, unassuming way. His soft, southern drawl is pitch perfect for reading the tight, spare and yet rich, descriptive sentences that characterize his writing. Sentences like these that set the stage for book:

Willard eased himself down on the high side of the log and motioned for his son to kneel beside him in the dead, soggy leaves. Unless he had whiskey running through his veins, Willard came to the clearing every morning and evening to talk to God. Arvin didn’t know which was worse, the drinking or the praying. As far back as he could remember, it seemed that his father had fought the Devil all the time.

Don read several passages, each one shedding a little light on one of the narrative threads woven through the book. The Devil All The Time is populated by characters who are sad and pathetic, misguided and deluded, or even downright evil, but he somehow imbues them with flashes of humanity that makes the reader care about even the worst of them.

As an admiring reader (and as a fan of the guy as a plain ol’ person), I think part of his ability to make the reader care about these hard-luck cases is the down-to-earth sense of humility that comes through in his writing. He’s not judging his characters; he’s simply telling their stories. He never lets his authorial voice intrude, never tells the reader, “Hey, watch out for this guy, he’s a son of a bitch.” Instead, we see each flawed character struggle with love and hate, fear and longing, and we come to understand something about their motivations, how they came to be so fuc*ed up. We get to know these people on their own terms. And once you know someone, it’s not so easy to dismiss them.

Don’s work isn’t easy, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun. Pick up a copy of The Devil All The Time and see for yourself.  As Willard says, “They’s a lot of no-good sonofabitches out there,” and all we can do is hope that Donald Ray Pollock keeps writing their stories.

An Oral Tradition


On Saturday, the three BSP co-founders (Kristy, Jason, and I) joined Fred Venturini and three other writers for Noir at the Bar at Meshuggah Cafe on the Loop.

The concept is that local writers read their most noir-ish short stories or novel excerpts. I have to say, I was pleased by the attendance–there were about 30 people crowded into the tiny Meshuggah loft. It’s encouraging to think that so many people would choose a reading on a Saturday night over the myriad of other events available on weekends.

Live performances are something for which musicians have a distinct advantage over writers. A live concert is an experience, an instant memory shared with hundreds or thousands of fellow fans. The place is shaking with excitement.

But what I realized on Saturday is that live reading is a unique animal of its own. A good reader–and many of the readers were good–bring new life to a story. It’s like the days of yore when people sat around campfires and told epic stories all night. Every reading in 2011 is a proud echo of that tradition, of stories passed from one to the other, generation to generation.

With beer, of course.

Thanks to Subterranean Books for sponsoring the event. It was a great night, and great to see Fred entertain the masses (can I say “masses” about 30 people? I think that’s fair).

The Left Bank Books Reading


Last Thursday, Blank Slate Press held its first big two-author reading and signing. It was a standing-room-only event–over 60 people attended! For those of you who weren’t able to make it, below are the videos of the two authors reading from their novels.



Are any BSP blog readers attending Jonathan Franzen’s talk and reading from Freedom on Monday? Just like BSP’s two authors, Franzen is from the St. Louis area.

BSP Announces our Flagship Authors


Here’s our “official” press release:

Blank Slate Press Announces Flagship Authors
Anene Tressler-Hauschultz and Fred Venturini Selected by Editorial Review Board

ST LOUIS, Missouri, July 6, 2010—After an open application process and three-month search for authors in the greater Saint Louis area, Blank Slate Press is pleased to announce Anene Tressler-Hauschultz and Fred Venturini as its flagship authors. Founded in February by three  St. Louis residents with experience with writing and publishing, Kristina Blank Makansi, Jason Makansi, and Jamey Stegmaier, the Blank Slate Press’ goal is to “discover, nurture, publish, and promote” new voices from among the many talented writers in our area. The selection process was aided by an Editorial Review Board comprised of nine diverse area readers

Ms. Tressler-Hauschultz’s novel is a character-driven work focusing on a St. Louis priest and hospital counselor whose already beleaguered life begins to unravel after he is tapped to minister to a small South American circus bequeathed to an order of aging nuns in St. Louis. Ms. Tressler-Hauschultz, is an award-winning fiction and poetry writer whose work has appeared in Best of Writers at Work anthology, The Distillery, Treasure House, Currents, River Blossom and Word Wright’s. While at UMSL, she won the English Department’s  annual prizes for fiction and for poetry and she has studied with Richard Bausch at Johns Hopkins, Nicholas Delbanco at Breadloaf, Claire Messud at Sewanee, Lorrie Moore at Vermont Studio Center, and Robert Olmstead at Rappahannnock. She also attended two workshops at the University of Iowa’s summer program and spent a month at Wellspring House in Massachusetts.  Most recently, she has taken two semester-long poetry classes with David Clewell, poet laureate of Missouri. She holds undergraduate degrees in Communications and Nursing from Saint Louis University, Masters Degrees from Washington University and the University of Missouri, St. Louis, and she teaches scriptwriting and media writing as an adjunct professor in the School of Communications at Webster University.

Mr.  Venturini’s novel examines the dark side of human nature as it follows a bright but outcast young man who, after he discovers he can regrow limbs and organs, becomes the star of The Samaritan,  a television reality show on which injured or dying patients literally win a piece of him. Mr. Venturini, received a B.S. in English from MacMurray College in 2002, and an MFA from Lindenwood University in 2009. He has 19 short stories published or due to be published. From tightly woven horror and unmitigated creepiness, to literary fiction, Fred’s gift for pacing and clarity—and for getting under your skin—is beyond powerful. Best-selling novelist Chuck Palahniuk called “Gasoline,” one of Mr. Venturini’s short stories, “solid gold fantastic.” Fatally Yours, a book review blog, called his story “Detail,” included in Death Panel, a collection of short stories published by Comet Press, “My absolute favorite of the collection …. Precise and perfect, this short story had me by the short hairs,” while another reviewer described it as “where CSI meets Car and Driver.”

“Although Anene and Fred were the clear choices of everyone on the Editorial Review Board, we were delighted at both the number and quality of the author applications we received,” said Kristina Blank Makansi, Blank Slate Press’ CEO. “Now, we are excited to work with both Anene and Fred and to promote and showcase two of the talented writers from our region.”

About Blank Slate Press

Blank Slate Press is a newly formed literary arts incubator and publishing company focusing exclusively on discovering, nurturing, publishing and promoting authors from the greater Saint Louis region. Blank Slate Press acts as a partner to its selected authors and works with them to build the author’s brand, adhere to milestones to complete their work, and create and implement an innovative, customized marketing plan for the author and his/her work. Blank Slate Press brings the latest technologies and social networking ideas to bear on the writing, publishing, delivery and promotion of literary works, and seeks to apply a venture capitalist sensibility to publishing. For more information on how to help Blank Slate Press support area writers, please visit,

Book Trailers


Book trailers, as opposed to the well-known movie trailers, are a relatively new phenomenon. A few blogs have been tracking them and compiled the best of the best. Click here and here to review them.

But, for authors, the best one has to be book launch 2.0 which was the proud winner of the 2010 Moby Award for Best Performance by an Author (

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Book Trailers“, posted with vodpod

%d bloggers like this: