Posted tagged ‘Fred Venturini’

Book Trailers

08/04/2011

Much has been written about book trailers and I’m not sure they help, hinder, or don’t matter at all when it comes to book sales. What purpose do they really serve? Should they “tell the story” or just evoke the mood created by the storyteller? If they don’t drive sales are they a waste of time/energy/resources that could be better spent doing other sorts of promotions?

Whatever the verdict, BSP’s debut novels now both have book trailers. The trailer for our first book, The Samaritan by Fred Venturini was created by me (Kristina) and our fellow publisher Nancy, of Stonebrook Publishing. The trailer for our second book, Dancing with Gravity by Anene Tressler, was created by Anene and her husband Jim.

Give them a watch and let us know what you think. Check them out here:

The Samaritan Book Trailer

 

Dancing with Gravity Book Trailer

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

07/21/2011

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: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7V7sIYki_Eo&feature=related.)

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.

Sincerity Means Never Judging The Book Before It’s Been Cooked

12/22/2010

Here’s a review Regina Till, a fellow writer and friend, sent me after reading an ARC of The Samaritan. It is not only extremely gratifying, but it made me laugh out loud–especially since she’s eaten my cooking and lived to tell.  I’m delighted to present it in full:

Do you share this conundrum now and then, when a friend says something like, “I can’t wait for you to see my…taste my…meet my….”  (I.E. Hair style?  World class chili?  New boyfriend?) You pray there will at least be something there to which you can offer a positive comment or two.  (I.e. Green is your color!   Is that ketchup I taste?   His moustache looks so real …) Before you’ve even smelled the chili,  you’re warming up for ketchup?

A friend of mine started her own publishing company.  It features writers from the greater St. Louis region.   She and her partners leaped in with a concrete investment of money, time and know-how, and a faith that if you build it (offer excellent fiction) people (readers/investors) will come.  Their philosophy transpired out of their experience; that talent exists right here in river city and surrounds,  and with it a large pool of authors who don’t get the opportunity to be read, or the recognition they deserve, for a variety of reasons.  In addition to the pure talent of available authors, they ascribed to that time-tested (and largely cast aside in the rest of the publishing world) art of editor/author symbiosis that would nurture good into better.   It all sounded fine to me, even as I was a little doubtful that the result could challenge the stacks of unread books I have sitting next to my overflowing bookshelves.  It was that skeptic in me who prepared for a worst-case scenario. How would I kindly encourage if I honestly thought the result was at best a nice try, at worse, a one-chapter read and a painful glaze-over through the rest?   In the meantime, the chili was on the stove.

So when she announced last summer that her company, Blank Slate Press, had two new authors, and then more recently that the books were done, and the first author’s book was ready for release, I gave her the easy (for me) truth.  Congratulations!  And I meant it.  That, in itself, was an accomplishment.  Blank Slate Press fulfilled a promise to writers if nothing else.  And in only a little more than a year, no less!   That’s good news.   If the actual books proved to be only so-so, well, there is honor in trying.

But of course, the time came.  “I’ll give you an early copy, let me know, honestly, what you think,” she said.  Immediately my mind ran a treadmill of worn out platitudes and phrases.  (Fascinating premise.  The cover is eye catching!  Good use of semi-colons.)  But more importantly, how would I  (or should I even) let her down if, after reading, all I thought she was doing was feeding a delusion?  Beg off with the truth, that I am only one reader?  That I am a cranky one on top of it?  That I am, after all, no critic?

And then I read the book.  The Samaritan, by Fred Venturini.

Forget the platitudes, the semi-colons, my miss-guided B.S.  This book rocks, and I mean that literally.  It agitated my nerve, shocked my senses, punched holes in my understanding.  If you read books (maybe especially if you haven’t picked up a book of fiction in years), on the first of February you can get a copy and read for it yourself .  I urge you to do so.   With one caution:  If you’re squeamish or reticent about brutal or graphic descriptions of violence, (it is raw and explicit), then you may want to pass on this.  For everyone else, there is much more in this book than that disclaimer does justice.

The Samaritan is about loss and regret and regeneration (you read that right) and how hope slides into the crevices of our darkest spaces and moves us on, despite.  It’s about a guy named Dale, whose talents take a backseat to his humanity, and his friend, whose buried humanity regenerates along with Dale’s actual body parts.  It’s about the illusion of healing, and the ways we can, and sometimes do, sabotage the best we have to offer.  It’s about coming up for air every time, just because.  It’s also relentlessly fast-paced, with a meter in each sentence and phrase that comes at you like a line drive, scoring strikes along the way that keep you asking why?  What more?

“…they were one person back then, one voice meant to draw you into trouble, hypnotic as strippers and capable of the same broken promises.”

“It was an endearing reaction to behold, seeing the light beaming through the seams of his ego.”

“Funny how hatred of something causes sign-building, but a passion to defend something just causes anger.”

“I cradled his head and started bawling, a cry that no bite could control, the kind of blazing sorrow that puts a bellows squeeze on lungs.”

It’s a man’s book; (a book about men and the boy’s voice inside that spurs them on), that women will feel true.   And while the premise is fantastical, the yearning to make a difference in this world, to shout “I was here” that seeps from the flesh and dreams of these characters, is something I think most of us feel at one time or another no matter our gender, our background or our specific desires.

Bravo to the author, Fred Venturini.  And to Kristy Blank Makansi and BSP, this reader is sincere; I’ll be glad to recommend this book to anyone. Just don’t ask me about your chili recipe.

All I can say is THANK YOU to Reggie, who I knew would tell me the truth–no matter what. To read a chapter of The Samaritan for yourself, click on over to http://scr.bi/i0k4N0.  Pre-ordering ability is coming soon.

Vote on Cover Concepts for BSP’s First Title

10/15/2010

We’re gearing up to release our very first title: The Samaritan by Fred Venturini. We’ve been working with designers to come up with cover art that is at once arresting–i.e. that will make you pick the book up–and that conveys the feel, tone, mood, and essence of the book. This is no easy task because The Samaritan is one helluva book! And, because each of us here at Blank Slate Press has a favorite concept (arrgh!), we’re depending on you to help us decide. We started with 14 concepts and have had members of our Editorial Board weigh in with their picks. Now, we’ve narrowed it down to five. So, here’s what we’d like you to do:

1. vote on the cover that STANDS OUT the most, i.e., the one that you’d be most likely to pick up when browsing at a bookstore
2. read the short synopsis below
3. revisit the covers and vote again if you’ve changed your mind.
4. REMEMBER…these are just concepts…based on which concept wins, we’ll still tweak and fiddle a bit more…and who knows? We may even have another brilliant brainstorm of an idea that we all love so much there’s no question it will have to win.

PLUS – if you go to www.blankslatepress.com and sign up for our newsletter, you’ll be entered to win a signed hardback copy of The Samaritan. You can also read an excerpt from the book here.

(CLICK A COVER TO SEE A LARGER VERSION)

The Samaritan – A  Synopsis
Dale Sampson is a nobody. A small town geek who lives in the shadow of his best friend, the high school baseball star, it takes him years to even gather the courage to actually talk to a girl. It doesn’t go well. Then, just when he thinks there’s a glimmer of hope for his love life, he loses everything.

When Dale runs into the twin sister of the girl he loved and lost, he finds his calling–he will become a samaritan. Determined to rescue her from a violent marriage, and redeem himself in the process, he decides to use the only “weapon” he has–besides a toaster. Although his “weapon” leads him to fame and fortune as the star of a blockbuster TV reality show, he learns that being The Samaritan is a heartbreaking affair. Especially when the one person you want to save doesn’t want saving.

The Samaritan is a searing and often brutally funny look at the dark side of human nature. It lays bare the raw emotions and disappointments of small town life and best friends, of school bullies and first loves, of ruthless profiteers and self-aggrandizing promoters—and of having everything you know about human worth and frailty questioned under the harsh klieg lights of fame.

Now…If you need/want to change your vote, go back up and vote again.

Anene & Fred Write

07/13/2010

We’re delighted that both of our authors, Anene Tressler-Hauschultz and Fred Venturini, are hard at work creating awesome literary works. And we’re also delighted that they’re going to share insights into the writing process through their new blogs. Anene and Fred–while both extremely talented writers–have, shall we say, different styles. Take a look for yourself:

Fred’s blog (lits of pubs and an excerpt from The Samaritan are up. The first blog post is percolating in Fred’s brain)

Anene’s blog (first post is up)

Did I mention we’re delighted?


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