Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Publishing wing-dings and the Christian literati

Last night I went to an informal wing-ding that some friends host every year during the Religious Book Trade Exhibit trade show here in the Chicago area. It's attended by various publishing professionals, with book publishers and magazine editors, authors and agents, publicists and reviewers, from near and far. It's always a good time to schmooze and mingle, to connect and catch up with friends, hear industry tidbits, plug and promote books, maybe pitch a book idea to someone.

I chatted with one of our authors, Father Albert Haase, who will be signing his new book Coming Home to Your True Self: Leaving the Emptiness of False Attractions at RBTE today. He gave us an enthusiastic endorsement for Mary Poplin's forthcoming Finding Calcutta about what she learned from her time with Mother Teresa. Haase had served as a spiritual director for Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity for some years, and was delighted with Poplin's book. Fr. Albert asked me what to expect at his booksigning and what to do.

"It's pretty simple," I said. "People will line up, and you greet them and sign your book and give it to them."

"How much do I engage them?" he asked. "How long do I talk to them?"

"Depends on the line. If there are just a few people, you can take longer to talk with them and tell them about your book. But if there are a lot of people waiting in line, then you should probably move them along a little faster."

"Ah, just like confession!"

Ellen and I brought our kids, as we do every year, and it was fun to see Elijah hugging and dancing with editors and publishers. I'm sure every industry has its confabs and gatherings, but there's something particularly invigorating about being in a crowded living room with a bunch of book geeks, all talking about a great new book or a newly discovered author that knocks their socks off. I love being part of this world.

This isn't about the wing-ding, but this is an excuse to link to a few publishing-related items. If you have an idea for a book, first go to
The Rejecter's blog to see why editors and agents reject proposals. And just for the heck of it, here's an amusing video that one of my editor friends forwarded me recently. It's from Dennis Cass, the author of Head Case, about marketing realities surrounding the release of the paperback edition of his book.


Dianne said...

Hm, that book by Fr. Haase looks excellent - adding to my vacation pile. I always enjoy reading your blog ;)

Helen said...

Elijah was a lot of fun!

Earl Grey Tea said...

The book on "Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity" has stirred my interest. I would try to read this book to get the other side of the story.

My personal research of her missionary work and all that I have heard from people has contributed to forge my mind to the fact: Theresa was an obstacle to modern science in her attempt to promote magic. Even though the facts are credible, I would refrain from classifying people as good and bad and refrain from direct obloquy of her reputation.

Of what I’ve heard, it intrigues me that, in the midst of national affliction how she could condone the activities of British Empire. For a human activist of her standing, by remaining apolitical and showing reluctance to join the Indian non-violent freedom struggle against the empire, she displayed an insouciant attitude towards a noble cause; probably she may not have grasped the gravity of the situation. Instead it is documented that she took refuge under the British and held a neutral position to forward her catholic agenda- did she entice people into Catholic Church? Mahatma Gandhi chided her publicly for her conversion activity under British patronage. Why did she not take umbrage at the evil deeds of the British Raj?

The case at hand is missionary hospital in Calcutta (founded in circa 1920’s), which she used to and still operates by her followers, is outdated and offers the most rudimentary conveniences to the acutely sick. With the millions donated to her charity, if she had, lets suppose flexed her financial strengths and set up a world class hospital in Calcutta, then people could have received state of art medical help; but by doing this did she feel her need in Calcutta would come to a closure? Did she fear scientific medicine might overshadow her professed belief in the effectiveness of prayers and magic?

Unfortunately my words might sound odious but her behavior in the above mentioned instances has been appalling; but apart from this and couple more instances she has managed to leave an indelible impression on peoples mind. Though, she may still remain a controversial figure in east and a venerable figure in the west, however, time and people with pens and power will write her story.

To many, I fear her works may be conceived as “a person who lived a life outlined by somebody, and faithfully served him in an ancillary capacity”.