Friday, November 20, 2009

Author Interview ~ Marci Alborghetti

Marci Alborghetti is the author of over ten books, including a Season in the South and How to Pray When You Think You Can’t. Alborghetti and her husband, Charlie, divide their time between New London, Connecticut, and Sausalito, California.

What new project is coming out that you would like to tell us about?

My new novel, The Christmas Glass, will be released in October. The story moves from Italy in WWII to America in the year 2000, following the lives of several families. Each family has come into possession of one piece of a
collection of hand-blown glass Christmas ornaments. The novel tells
their stories, how they come apart and sometimes come together.

Tell us about your journey to publication. How long had you been
writing before you got the call you had a contract, how you heard
and what went through your head.

The Christmas Glass is my 12th book, second novel. I've been writing all
my life, motivated by a five dollar gift certificate I won in fourth grade
for an essay on Halloween. The gift certificate was for a quirky bookstore,
and I can still remember spending an hour in that dark, little store making
my selections and driving my mother nuts. The Christmas Glass is published
by Guideposts Books and is my second book with them. But it was not an easy
contract to get, simply because while the first book did well, it was a different type of book. The Christmas Glass required a slight leap of faith for them, and when I got the call that I'd be getting a contract, I was as thrilled as I'd been with my very first contract. This book had been in my head for years.

Do you still experience self-doubts regarding your work?

Of course! Anyone who doesn't isn't really writing, they're reciting on

What mistakes have you made while seeking publication?

Seeking publication in the current environment is a nightmare. So, where
I might have been more choosy in the past, today I'm happy to get a
proposal in and a contract even if the terms are less than ideal. Mistakes I've
made in the past include assuming publishers know how to market; approaching
the wrong person, even if it was the right publisher; thinking that if I was
simply a good writer everything would fall into place; being too naive
about the business.

What's the best advice you¹ve heard on writing/publication?

Research publishers and make sure you have a possible match, in other
words, that they publish your kind of manuscript; and then, find someone you can
connect with there, or your work is likely to sit at the bottom of a

How do you craft a plot?

Usually based on one small idea. For example, the plot of The Christmas
Glass was formed around the idea of these 12 Christmas ornaments. I'd
been reading about the village in Germany where glass ornaments were made in
the late 19 century, and how they were made, and from thinking about that,
the plot came together.

Do you begin writing with a synopsis in hand, or do you write as
the ideas come to you?

No synopsis, but I'm hugely reliant on my outline, which becomes longer
and more detailed as ideas come to me before and while writing.

What's something you wish you¹d known earlier that might have
saved you some time/frustration in the publishing business?

It sounds cynical, but I'd have to say: don't believe the deal is done
untilyou're holding the signed contract in your hand. And even then keep your
eyes open. So much can go wrong in the process of getting published.
Several times I've been very close to a contract, and the editor I was
working with moved on or quit. Something as simple as that can scotch
the whole deal.

Is there a particularly difficult set back that you¹ve gone
through in your writing career you are willing to share?

Only one?!! Three years ago I was working closely with an international
publisher with a house in America on a book called One God, Three Faiths.
It explored what Christianity, Islam, and Judaism had in common based on
their scriptures: the New Testament, the Qur'an, the Torah. The book
was meant to be accessible to the average reader - not necessarily the
theological academic. The book was to be published in America, and then
later, probably Canada and Europe. After a year's worth of work with a
very small advance and praise and assurances all the way, they decided to pull
the book because it was too controversial. I was heartbroken!

How do you think reading the work of others helps you as a writer?

The only way to learn to write is to read. Everything. Good writing
teaches you how to write well. Bad writing teaches you how not to write.
Great writing makes you cry with envy and hope.

What piece of writing have you done that you¹re particularly proudof and why?

I'm extremely proud of The Christmas Glass because it is entertaining,
but also deals with the issue of family and what that means in an honest,
funny way. And I think it is a good read, which means a lot to me. I'm also
very proud of a book of short fiction, called The Jesus Women, which tells the
stories of 12 women who encountered Jesus. They speak to the reader in
their own voices and through their own perspectives. I love that book.

What is your best advice on maintaining a good editor-author

Be courteous, be respectful, be professional, and make it clear that you
expect the same treatment from them. If you like the person, let that
show, but never let down your professional guard.

How many drafts to you edit before submitting to your editor?

I edit as I go, so it's hard to say. I probably edit each chapter once,and
then the whole mss once.

We often hear how important it is to write a good query letter to
whet the appetite of an editor. What tips can you offer to help
other writer pen a good query?

To be honest, I've never had a book picked up off a query letter. I
think the quality of the proposal is more important, and of course, having
someone to send it to. I seldom send a proposal without having called or
contacted the editor and getting their OK.

Was there ever a time in your writing career you thought of

Ten minutes ago. Twenty minutes from now.

How much marketing/publicity do you do? Any advice in this area?

This is now most of the job. Seriously. The writing is the best part,
but if you are not prepared to strenuously promote your work, your chances of
success are nil to none. First, try to find a publisher who is willing
to diligently market your book. Good luck with that! If you have an
aggressive "marketing" publisher, simply ask what they want you to do and
do it. If not, do as much as you possibly can yourself. Set up book
signings, and not just at bookstores, but with any group or event that is a match
for your book. Go to fairs, festivals, churches, libraries, etc. Contact
newspapers and journals and see if they will announce/review your
publication. Reach out to every friend and acquaintance. Start an
e-newsletter. Consider every possible angle in promoting your book, and
then follow up on it.

Have you received a particularly memorable reader response?

Yes, that's the best part of this. Writing is a way to touch people, to
entertain them, to help, maybe to change their lives. This is why I do

My second book, Freedom From Fear; Overcoming Anxiety Through Faith, was
a sometimes funny, sometimes intense book of anecdotes on how people deal
with stess and anxiety, particularly through their relationship with God. As
a result of a book talk, I was asked to facilitate a group for people
living with anxiety and depression. One man who eventually came to the group
had not been able to leave his home and immediate neighborhood for months
because of a head injury that had all but destroyed his body and spirit.
He read the book, and we spoke, and he started attending the group. He is
now working with the Red Cross in emergency areas. When I think of him, I
feel like I could quit now and be happy.

Parting words?

But, of course, I don't quit.


Johnnie said...

My daughter received twelve ornaments from her husband's grandparents as a wedding present. They have a German heritage, but I don't know who exactly came to the States when. So your story intrigues me and I think it'll be a perfect Christmas gift for my daughter.

Edna said...

I love Christmas Books, enjoyed your interview.


Julie Garmon said...

Congratulations, Marci! Will tell Mom about this today. I'm thrilled for you.

Julie (Marion Bond West's daughter)