Thursday, December 25, 2008

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Literary Lunch with Susan, Jamie, Heather

The only book we looked at during lunch was the chapbook sized pamphlet The Manly Art of Knitting, but because we had four writers in our company, it was (in retrospect) a meeting of the Screen Porch Literary Guild. Heather Finch was the guest of honor because she drove the farthest; you might know her from the People’s Food Co-op or from Water Street Coffee Joint. Currently Heather is living in Sturgis with her ma, who will not let her have a goat. We all advised her about creating a blog called Living in Sturgis, or something like that. Award-winning poet Susan Ramsey came by with Swedish Spritz cookies—she did not bring the camel shaped cookies, but only the round ones. She was knitting a scarf even as she ate, talked and read from the Manly Art of Knitting. She suggested that Heather Finch apply to the Notre Dame MFA creative writing program. Jamie Blake, aspiring young adult author brought three loaves of French bread to assure we had the anti-Atkins lunch. She admired Heather Finch’s sweater, which had two owls on it, one that said “whoooo” and the other said “whom.” Christopher was with us, of course, and Mike Campbell happened to show up. We ate French Onion Soup and some turkey tetrazini and bread and butter and then cookies and candy for dessert, and we drank coffee. Heather told us about her bad ex-boyfriend and said we should kick him if we see him and we will.

The cool grainy photo of Susan is from her MFA graduation party; the other one is ofJamie Blake and me.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Kalamazoo Art Hop

The first Friday of every month, downtown Kalamazoo has an Art Hop at which folks can view art and eat snacks and join in the fun of being downtown. The most popular Art Hop of the year is the December event, because folks like to buy Christmas gifts, and in December, the Kalamazoo Public Library invites writers to hang out at tables and try to sell signed copies of their books. In truth, few books move, and I was thinking I'd skip it, until I remembered that I should start marketing American Salvage. Though it is six months from publication, I should be alerting folks, just in case it might make a difference. So I told Marti Fritz at the library that so long as I get to sit by Andy Mozina and Elizabeth Kerlikowske, I would be there, December 5, 6 pm to 9 pm. So now I just have to figure out how to get busy Christmas shoppers excited about a book that won't exist for another six months. Any thoughts? Apparently, Elizabeth K. has organized up a kind of poetry reading also, that will be going on the Children's Room.

For more info about the library Art Hop event, go to this link:

If you want more information about the December Art Hop in general, or a complete schedule of fun and free snacks, you can get it through this link:

As self-promotion, I should mention that Kenyon Review (a few months back) conducted an interview with me, in which they talked about American Salvage and you can read that interview here.

Oh, and speaking of submitting work to magazines, I got this email the today, from Ploughshares, with the subject line "Your submission to Ploughshares." The email contained this message:

2008-12-01 17:43:39 (GMT -5:00)

This is especially interesting since I have nothing submitted to Ploughshares at this time.

This photo above is my niece Kellee on Halloween dressed as a ZOMBIE GARDENER.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

First Page Proofs

Norma VanRheenen read the page proofs for American Salvage and she found a couple of actual errors that I had not found in my reading--it's amazing how those errors hide from the author. So I read the page proofs as well and made more changes than I really ought to have made, maybe a hundred changes in word choice and other minor details. I changed the title of one of the stories from "The Solution to Ben's Problem" to "The Solution to Brian's Problem," because really there aren't people named Ben around here. According to my managing editor Kristin Harpster Lawrence, authors don't normally get copies of the second page proofs, but I asked her if she would send them to me so that maybe I could get Carla to read those, since she should be rested up from reading Rhoda Janzen's book. One gets so few books published in a lifetime that one hates to have an error in any of them.

This photo was taken at Steve and Shawn Wagner's House (Shawn Wagner is someone who appears in the acknowledgments page), and we had just been trap shooting. There were lots of mushrooms in their yard, and they were talking about eating some of them. But look what happened to Alice, I said.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Page Proofs

The page proofs have arrived for my collection, and I was given two weeks to proofread them. And now I have wasted five of those days grading papers and cleaning my office (I always have to clean my office before critical stages in the publishing process). Wayne State paid good money to copyedit my book, but they don't hire proofreaders, so I need to make sure I catch all mistakes at this stage. After several beers last month, Carla Vissers had agreed to proofread the book for me, but when I contacted her a few days ago, saying I had to have my book proofread by November 11, she told me too goll darned bad, that she was proofreading Rhoda Janzen's book, also due back to the publisher November 11. So, it's not enough that Rhoda is taller than me and slimmer, or that she has a PhD after her name or got a six figure advance, but now she has co-opted my proofreader. Why, if Rhoda weren't fabulous, I might think a bad thought about her. By coincidence, Rhoda and I have the same size feet, size twelve, which means Carla can't use that as an excuse for rejecting me and choosing Rhoda. This is a photograph of Carla.

Update: Norma VanRheenen has agreed to proofread my book. Whew! That was a close one.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

American Salvage Cover

Wayne State University Press just sent me the cover art for my book, and I am thrilled with how it came out. It's sexy and smart and mysterious. I have a good number of writer friends who have been unhappy with the covers of their book, and so I do feel fortunate. This is a book I can enjoy looking at and enjoy selling. The photograph is by Mary Whalen, and the gal in the photo is Frances, her daughter. The guy is Mary's nephew, and the car is a Charger, like the one in Dukes of Hazard TV show. The book feels much more real now that we have a cover, and I look forward to seeing it next year. I'll let you all know about the book release parties---one in Detroit and one in Kalamazoo. Meanwhile I'll keep you posted about the ins and outs of the rest of the publication/promotion process on this blog. Cheers! BJC

Saturday, September 20, 2008

All Stories Published

I can now say that all the stories in my forthcoming collection American Salvage are published or scheduled for publication in literary magazines. Here's the list as it appears on the back page of my book

Gratefully acknowledged are the magazines in which these stories originally appeared: “The Trespasser” appeared in Witness; “The Yard Man,” “The Inventor, 1972,” and “Fuel for the Millennium” appeared in The Southern Review; “World of Gas” appeared in The Heartlands Today; “The Solutions to Ben’s Problem” appeared in Diagram; “Family Reunion” appeared in Mid-American Review; and was originally read aloud and broadcast on a WBEZ Program, Stories on Stage; “Winter Life” and “Falling” appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review; "Bringing Belle Home" appeared in ACM; "King Cole's American Salvage" appeared in Pleiades; "The Burn" appeared in Controlled Burn; “Storm Warning” appeared in Orchid: A Literary Review; “Boar Taint” appeared in The Kenyon Review.

In my last collection, one of the very best stories "The Perfect Lawn" was rejected by pretty much every magazine on the planet, and so this time it's nice to have all of my darlings placed somewhere.

There was a little awkward moment a week ago, when I had two unpublished stories left, and I was sending them to several places. When Carol Finke at Controlled Burn accepted "King Cole's American Salvage," I sent a note to Pleiades withdrawing it, but then two days later (before my letter arrived) I got a call from Phong Nguyen at Pleiades accepting it. Yow! So I sent "The Burn" to Controlled Burn and asked if I could switch with them, give them "The Burn," and the editor sent me a note back saying, yeah, we like "The Burn" better anyway. So, all the stories are nestled snugly into pages. Good night.

p.s. Chris took this photo of a bee's face with his new macro lens on his digital camera.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Mission Accomplished: Copyediting

Heidi sent the manuscript to Wayne State University Press (WSUP) in much better condition than she received it a month and a half ago. I feel as thought I got something that few writers ever get anymore, excellent editing. This book will be much better as a result of her mucking around in the manuscript. Perhaps the book will even win prizes as a result. The book is dedicated to Christopher, though he doesn't know it yet (unless he reads this blog). We just celebrated our twenty-first wedding anniversary on Thursday, and I realize that he makes me the best writer I can be, simply by tolerating my eccentricities, and by giving me health insurance so I don't have to get a full-time job. Oh, and his good humor and clever conversation and the way he can't keep his hands off me. He'd probably like it if I worked full-time and put us in a higher standard of living, but he doesn't tell me so, and he doesn't ever make me feel bad about my chosen way of life. Christopher was photographing people's eyes the other day, and this is a photo he took of his own.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Pineapple Head

Okay, I'm in the editing phase, so I'm going over the manuscript with a fine-toothed comb (note I did use the hyphen in the two-word adjective... I'm on a grammatical roll, here), but I couldn't resist sending the press one more photo... The gal in the grass skirt is Holly Schwartz at an island party at my house a few years ago. I sent it because the Wayne State folks asked me for my own opinion about the photos I'd already sent them... they asked which ones I liked best. I felt overwhelmed with gratitude, and so immediately mucked up the phone lines with more, irrelevant photos.

Back to the editing, let me warn you that things can go wrong with the electronic editing. For example, Heidi sent me the manuscript at night, and the next day I spent most of the day working on it, saving it every half hour or so. Before going to bed I opened up a bunch of other files, pushing that file down the list of files on my quickie file opening menu. The following day I got up, ready to get to work, and the file was nowhere to be found. I looked for an hour, then dared not spend any more time searching. I started over.

However, what goes right with the electronic editing is more profound. I feel comfortable making the changes that need to be made, that should be made. And even at this late date, I have found two incorrect elements in the book. In one scene I have a piece of 3/4 inch plywood and in the next I refer to it as 1/4 inch plywood. Hard to believe, unless you know that originally the passage referred to cutting a hole in the floor but I changed it to cutting a hole in the wall. Still. Unforgivable.

Okay, back to work.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Manuscript Back for Final Visit

Tonight my copy editor Heidi Bell returned my manuscript to me for final perusal. In anticipation of the arrival of my darling manuscript, I cleaned my office, even got down on my hands and knees and sucked up the spiders under my table. I have to say I’ve had some worrisome nights while Heidi had my manuscript. I even dreamed about the wood floor in my dojo.

More than a year ago, I organized the building of a wood floor for my dojo. With help from dojo friends, I ordered the wood and other materials, then supervised the construction of the floor, which went beautifully, and then I screwed up the finishing of the floor so it’s gouged and unattractive. It’s fine and perfectly functional for a dojo floor, but it’s not a perfect floor. I’ve felt bad about that floor, and so I’ve been scared about the final editing of my book, thinking I could screw it up the way I did the floor. After all, I don’t want a functional book--I want a beautiful book, a flawless book.

So it meant a lot to me that Heidi wrote, “Don't be scared, Bon. It's in really, really good shape.” I had made the most changes to the newest story, so I was glad to read Heidi's note that said, “I especially love what you did with ‘King Cole's American Salvage.’ It is beautifully streamlined and yet nothing is missing.” Heidi’s had a rough week while working on my manuscript; she spent three days at the Mayo Clinic where her husband had surgery on his throat, and then she got home to find her hours were cut at her job. As soon as my darling Christopher gets home I will open a bottle of wine and we will drink to Heidi. Tomorrow I will wake up early and open the manuscript file.

The photograph above is a tiny copy of one that the folks at Wayne State U. Press are giving the designers to consider, along with Mary Whalen’s photo of the guy and gal and car, and the photo one called Burl’s Beans. Erin Dorbin took this photo in the laundromat in Galesburg, Michigan.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Copy-edited Manuscript Back to Copy Editor

Today I sent my manuscript back to my copyeditor Heidi for “editorial clean-up.” It should feel good to get rid of it, but so far I just feel nervous. I hope I did a good job going through it. I hope I made good decisions. Heidi will take a look at it and then I will get one more opportunity to have a go at it, to make sure we’ve got it just right. In my other books, I've only had the opportunity to have one back-and-forth with the copyeditor, so I'm grateful to Wayne State for indulging me. I think the finished product will be stronger. This photo is my cousin Mimi holding a blueberry pie she made. I sent it to the Wayne State folks as a cover idea, but probably it's not a crisp enough photo. Still, I enjoy any excuse to share it.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Calling a Spade a Spade

My copyeditor, Heidi, made a suggestion that has got me thinking. I have a character digging with something I refer to as a "round end shovel," the garden variety shovel that I used to call a spade until about ten years ago. My brother Mike also calls it a "round end shovel." Heidi suggested the more proper variant "round ended shovel," but that doesn't sound natural. So I've been going around asking everyone I run into what they call the shovel in question, and most of them call it a "spade." According to all dictionary and encyclopedic definitions, that is wrong. A spade is a flat-ended implement across the board, and then there is something called a "garden spade." The farm and garden stores here in Kalamazoo and on-line call the rounded shovel a "round point shovel." Here's the passage in question.

"He was standing in mud, resting, with both hands on his round-end shovel, when he saw the big orange snake, its body as thick as his step-son’s arms, folded on the rocks."

I have until Monday at noon to make this decision and all the rest, at which time I will send the manuscript back to my copyeditor, Heidi. My Darling Christopher says I'm overthinking it... but that is just the sort of gal I am. And now that I've pasted that sentence in, I'm wondering if there are altogether too many commas going on.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Copy Editor Sends Corrected Pages

My copy editor said it took her 28 hours to go through my manuscript, and it is probably the closest reading my collection will ever get. Lucky for me my copy editor is Heidi Bell, who is excellent and professional and warm besides. I’ve never had a problem working with an editor, but people have told me that often there is trouble between creative writers and their editors. I have a little more than a week to look over Heidi’s suggested changes.

For my other two books, the editors sent me corrected paper pages in the mail, which I looked over and marked up at my desk. This time, Heidi asked if we could do it all on the computer, and that seemed fine with me. Heidi made the changes and suggestions using MS Word’s track changes, with notes in blue and red. Comments I make in response to those changes show up in hot pink. On my first look-through, Heidi appears to be right in nearly every case.

I have incorrectly used “though” for “although” and “back yard” for “backyard” repeatedly. A dozen times, Heidi moved a sentence or two up or down a paragraph, and a dozen times she said, “This doesn’t make sense to me,” and said exactly why.

Kristin Harpster Lawrence is the Editorial, Design, and Production Manager at Wayne State, said that they put a lot of resources into editing their books, and she isn't kidding. Over the next couple of weeks, Heidi will have another go at the manuscript, and then I will read it one final time, and on August 22, Heidi will send the final version to WSUP. Kristin said that would be a good time for me to take a vacation. When I return, the manuscript will be page proofs.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Thanks, Dan Wickett at EWN!

Dan Wickett conjured the Emerging Writers Network out of thin air in 2002, and since then he's been a powerful force for good in the writing world. He has generously reviewed both of my published books, and he has since reviewed two of the stories that will appear in my new collection American Salvage. Last year he reviewed "Winter Life" as it appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review. In June he reviewed the new issue of Kenyon Review (cover depicted above). Here's what he says:

The issue also has a story, "Boar Taint," by another EWN favorite, Bonnie Jo Campbell! I have to say, if there was one person that would write a story that starts out "The boar hog was advertisted on a card at the grocery ..." and I had to guess who wrote it, Bonnie Jo Campbell would have been on my short list. And not surprisingly, the story doesn't disappoint - Campbell may be one of the best writers around at blending stories about people who work or spend a large amount of time outdoors with their internal lives - their thoughts, beliefs, etc. She has given us in Jill, her protagonist, another in a long line of BJC independent females to enjoy reading about.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Art for story collection "American Salvage"

(Scroll down to earlier entry to see photos)

My third book, my second story collection will be coming out in the Spring from Wayne State University Press (Yea!) Maya Rhodes, the fabulous assistant design and production manager invited me to send ideas I had for cover art by Michigan artists (with the understanding that the decisions on design are theirs) so I sent her the photos below. I put them on this site because I wanted to share them with all of you. Please forgive the low resolution of the beautiful originals, but I still have dial-up internet service. I'm describing them in order of appearance below. I'm not a design person, but it was fun to think about cover art for a while.

1. Daguerreotype of corn by Charlie Schreiner, Saugatuck Artist, boyfriend of my friend Lisa Lenzo. He's pretty famous in the Daguerreotype community.

2. Mary Whelan took this photo of her daughter Frances and her nephew leaning against his Dukes of Hazard car. The photo is large format. She has other versions of the photo in which the girl's face is not blurred.

3. "Burl in the Beans" is by Kalamazoo photographer Jeff Mitchell

4. "Walking Man" is by Dylan Seuss-Brakeman. He leaned out of a car window in a blizzard and snapped this. Cool, eh?

5. This photo in green with train tracks is by Erin Dorbin, a Kalamazoo photographer. I took it from her Flickr site. I hope she doesn't mind.

6. This photo of four guys is by my dad, Rick Campbell, who worked as a news photographer for 52 years. The characters are Tracy Call, Mike Campbell, Tim Bowling, and Tom Campbell. It was the seventies, wasn't it?!

7. My dad took this photo of a wild woman at a bonfire, and it really looks like a book cover, don't you think?

8. This photo is Kellee, my niece. Susan Ramsey says she looks too good, almost Hollywood good. It's true that she's beautiful. My husband Christopher Magson took this photo.

9. Chris also took this photo of my mom outside the greenhouse she was constructing for her pawpaws saplings. She looks very proud.