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A Critical Look
Tender Cuts, by Jayne Martin 
"This book reminds us that the symbols we render onto the world are only as durable as the world itself. It is an emblem of love, corruption, entropy, and intimacy delineated in 38 vignettes, whose unflinching study of human experience, particularly in the depths of regret, lost love, and dashed hopes, comes naturally to an author with over twenty years’ experience writing movies-for-television." (Vine Leaves Press)
Ashley McGreary, reviewing for SmokeLong Quarterly
Gray is the New Black, by Dorothy Rice
"This book is a coming of age memoir for those of us who took a little longer than others to write it all down. ... Rice discusses being a daughter, sister, mother, grandmother and wife with an unflinchingly honest and unquestionably relatable pen. Although I’m more than a decade her junior, I saw myself on the page over and over—often painfully so. But although Rice is merciless in her examination of her life, she is never whiney, self-pitying, or cruel. Rice details her pain with such a wry humor that her memoir was impossible to put down." (Otis Books)
Lara Lillibridge, reviewing for Mom Egg Review
Scenes from the Heartland, by Donna Baier Stein
"Donna Baier Stein, in these nine stories, has created a mosaic of life during the twenties, thirties, and early forties. They were not easy years for most of the country, for those in the middle they were particularly hard. We have read about these times, but Stein gives her people dimension and emotions, and looks behind the faces into their thoughts and memories. ... If you want to feel, not simply know, but feel what it was like to live in the heart of America in the early years of the 20th century, read these stories." (Serving House Books)
Townshend Walker, reviewing for the New York Journal of Books
Pain, by Zeruya Shalev (trans. by Sondra Silverstone)
"A lot in Israeli writer Zeruya Shalev’s fifth novel to be translated into English, Pain, is familiar territory. A married woman, finding herself bored with married life, seeks something better. ... In the end, Pain is not merely about an affair or a mid-life crisis. Shalev instead takes a story of love and obsession under a microscope, prods its mechanics, and shows us something completely different from what we expected... The result is a highly original novel that asks tough questions about the moral duties we have to those we hurt." (Other Press)
Eric Nguyen, reviewing for Necessary Fiction
Book Giveaway!

Weaving together the present moment of Kira's life following the loss of her baby and her mother with the hazy memories of a young girl who falls in love during World War II, The Wild Impossibility by Cheryl A. Ossola is a gripping and poetic exploration of love, loss, and grief. Ossola's characters--Kira and her doting husband Dan, teenaged Maddalena and her forbidden lover Akira--take control of the narrative, immersing the reader fully in their dramas. Vivid descriptions of settings like a Japanese internment camp or a bedroom in Kira's mother's house complete the experience. The sentences in this book are beautiful; I wish I could've savored them more, but there was too much suspense in this story for me to slow down for long.

If you're a subscriber of Magnify who opened this email, you'll be automatically entered into a raffle to win a copy of this book! To make sure you're eligible for next month's giveaway of A Skinned Bird by Chelsea Biondolillo, subscribe to Magnify!
An Inside Look
I could not be happier with the media coverage Besotted received over the past 10 months. Everyone says it takes hustle to promote a small press book, and this month I want to shed some light on what that hustle actually looked like for me. Below I explain how many of the reviews, interviews, readings, and other media came together. For even more support around book publicity, check out the information below on the latest Amplify retreat, "Promote Your Book With Confidence." 
Personal Networks
Don't be afraid to talk about your book, well before it comes out, to everyone you know, especially if the people you know are even tangentially connected to the publishing industry. After hearing about Besotted on Facebook, my eighth grade English teacher reached out on my behalf to some of his connections. This is how I ended up on the Writers on Writing podcast and signing books at a Barnes & Noble in New Hampshire last year, and how I was invited to the Newburyport Literary Festival in April of this year. I also sent advance copies of the book to a former college professor who is now the editor-in-chief of Cleaver Magazine, a writer I know who writes for Lit Reactor, and several friends who work at Powell's Books. I called Jabberwocky Books where I worked briefly 17 years ago and asked about setting up a reading. 
The Power of a Publicist
In the June issue of Magnify I shared my decision to hire publicist Lori Hettler after my own attempts to get coverage for the book didn't go as far as I'd hoped. Lori's efforts sending out copies of the book, pitching interviews and conversations, and submitting new writing I created at her prompting yielded coverage for Besotted in After the Pause, This Book Will Change Your Life, Independent Book Review, The Big Smoke, Heavy Feather Review, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, The Other Stories Podcast, Necessary Fiction, This Podcast Will Change Your Life, Cease, Cows, The Bronzeville Bee, The Spellbinding Shelf, and Monkey Bicycle
Social Media as a Networking Tool
Obviously social media is a huge platform you can use to share news about your book. It's also a great place to connect with other writers who use their platforms to promote other people. My coverage in Entropy Magazine, Steph Post's Author Spotlight, and Read Her Like an Open Book all came as a direct result of me responding to other people's posts. This is also how I initially connected with Peg Alford Pursell who runs Why There Are Words, a fantastic reading series where I read in Sausalito, New York, and Portland. 
Don't Wait to be Invited
Besotted launched last year just before AWP came to Portland. A perfect opportunity for me to promote the book! Except neither of my panels were accepted and I didn't get invited to any off-site readings. So, I planned my own, bringing two different groups of readers together at The Stacks Coffeeshop and Another Read Through bookstore. I took the same direct approach to booking a reading at Powell's, emailing the event coordinator months in advance and asking for a date. The worst anyone can ever say is no, right? 
Local Authors Draw Local Readers
My readings in Dallas and Austin both happened because I connected with other writers—Kimberly King Parsons in Dallas and Mo Daviau and Josh Denslow in Austin—who had connections in those cities. While I didn't have enough of a network to do a reading on my own in either city, by seeking out writers to partner with I was able to reach new readers.
Promote Your Work With Confidence
March 27-29, 2020

What’s your “platform” and how can you grow it? When should you ask for blurbs and how do you do it? How do you create a marketing plan? Whether you are anticipating the launch of your first book or your fifth, this retreatwill give you the skills and knowledge you need to send your book out into the world.
Amplify Retreats are held at Heaven & Earth Retreats in Banks, Oregon, 40-minutes outside of Portland. Cost for the retreat ranges from $500-$750, depending on room selection. This price includes all meals, snacks, and wine. We are offering one full fellowship to a BIPOC writer. 
Deadline to Apply: February 12
Learn more and apply
This year, Magnify will provide a forum for other authors, publishers, publicists, and other literary community members to share their perspectives on indie publishing. Columns can be personal reflections, interviews, lists, or guides. Read more on my blog about what I'm looking for and how to submit!
Community Builder Spotlight: Erika Dreifus
"Erika epitomizes literary citizenship. Her well-researched newsletter, Practicing Writer, is an indispensable and longstanding resource, and has steered me and countless others toward numerous opportunities, job/literary/otherwise and insights over the years. One of the most generous and principled writers I know, her integrity and thoroughness is unparalleled, and I particularly appreciate her spotlight interviews with debut authors, and her commitment to providing no-fee lists. The Practicing Writer remains one of the first places I direct my students as they embark on the submissions process. Her subscription comes with no consumer cost, yet the benefits we reap are priceless. We are so lucky to have her in our literary corner, cheering us on and tossing out buoy after buoy as we navigate the often murky waters toward publication."
Thank you to author Sara Lippman for submitting this description of Erika's work as a community builder! Know of a literary community builder you'd like to see highlighted in Magnify? Nominate them here
Another Look
As the world is truly on fire in ways that it wasn't even a few weeks ago, and as winter weather and clothes weigh us down, I have a review of a lighter book that will feel good to read this time of year: Macdeath by Cindy Brown, out from Henery Press. This is the first in an easy and enjoyable mystery series that while light, still makes a serious point about society. This book takes place in a theater (unusual and fun!) and is full of literary references, which is always something I appreciate. It's also worth mentioning how fun it is to have a book center around Shakespeare's Scottish play with all those specific quotes and references and, of course, the curse, which contributes some humorous moments to the story. Her protagonist is not quite as formidable as I generally hope for, but she's realistic and likely gets stronger as the series continues. Her not-so-steely personality is also part of the comedy of the book. Brown does a good job clueing the reader in, if they don't know much about Macbeth, but I'm sure the more you know, the more fun this is. And Brown obviously knows a lot, and had fun with it in this.
Each month, Another Read Through owner Elisa Saphier will choose a small press book released a year or more ago for our Another Look column. Based in Portland, Oregon, Another Read Through ships, so if you want to order any of the books featured in Magnify, follow the links to order them from Elisa
Thanks so much for reading Magnify! If you have a review of a recent small press book you'd like to see included in our Critical Look, or questions about life as a small press author, feel free to contact me. See you next month! 

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