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What to read when: you're anti back-to-school
Denial is not just a river in Egypt
This is the free weekly edition of “Before and After the Book Deal.” If you value my efforts to make writing and publishing a more joyful, straightforward, and potentially lucrative endeavor for all who practice it, consider upgrading to a paid subscription. Thank you!
The why: Our unnamed narrator is a high school teacher who is low on energy and joy. His girlfriend, Missy, wants to take things to the next level, his screwball mother just launched an internet advice column, and he’s considering joining a rock band with his own students because he’s consistently finding young adults to be more interesting than the adult he’s supposed to be. But when a Golden-Globe winning actress moves to this teacher’s small town, everything is upended and exciting once again. To me, Understudies is a beautiful combination of Laura van den Berg’s surrealism, Rebecca Dinnerstein’s lovable misanthropes and A.M. Homes’ lost boys.
Bonus points: Understudies is a novella. I freaking love novellas and think they are the perfect form for now. (I suspect someone out there agrees with me because I’ve been seeing the standard 90K-word novel fall to 60K-words of late.)
Speaking of going back-to-school, I’m going to be teaching in Drexel’s low-res MFA program for the spring ‘23 semester! I’m excited by this opportunity and also flattered, because I don’t have an MFA myself. If you have BEFORE AND AFTER THE BOOK DEAL, you can learn more about this paradox in the chapter “Is there a world in which I can teach without an MFA?”
New Friday Office Hours Open Call for Artist Statements: Thank you to everyone who has been sending in their opening pages—there have been a lot of submissions so I appreciate your patience. For an upcoming Office Hours, I’d love to take a look at an artist statement. If you’re applying for a residency or grant this fall, and you’d benefit from having an extra set of eyes on your statement of purpose, please send it in the body of an email to thequerydoula (at) gmail (dot) com with “Substack” somewhere in the subject line. I will only respond if I’m going to use your submission, and only paid subscribers can submit. If you’d like to level up to a paid submission, please do—we’re having a great time looking at queries, book titles, opening pages and other writing material in the champagne room.
I made a list with Beyoncé and Jordan Peele! Vanity Fair has announced that the season of the Horse Girl is upon us, and I am absolutely enchanted to have my memoir, The Year of the Horses, included in this trend piece.
Mental health lecture: September 28th at 7pm ET, I’m joining forces with New York’s Bedford Riding Lanes and Endeavor Therapeutic Horsemanship to talk about the many benefits of nonverbal communication and horse contact. Books are available through Katonah Reading Room and tickets for the Bedford, NY event are available here.
Subscriber discount! Do your fall plans involve putting together a book proposal, or a book pitch for an agent? Head on over to my Domestika course on book proposal writing (which has a big section dedicated to getting around “platform” if you don’t really have one). My gift for subscribers: once you reach the course, please enter this special discount code: CMAUM-SUBSTACK
Leigh Stein wants you on BookTok: If you’ve been wondering whether or not to jump on the BookTok trend, book coach and author Leigh Stein is teaching a masterclass on it, which I might have to attend because I only use TikTok to watch @nicholas_flannery spoofing rich white lady dramas and @maybetamsin doing yummy mummy bits. You can sign up for Leigh’s September 12th class, here.
That’s all for now! I’m planning a new post on how to pull yourself out of a dark, deep hole and generate (and maintain) momentum in your current writing project. Coming soon-ish!
Thanks for being here,