If you have a question for my agent or would like to request a blurb from me for your book (see other FAQ below about blurbs), please contact my agent Jennifer Gates at firstname.lastname@example.org, 212-765-6900. If you would like to schedule me to read at your bookstore or literary festival, please contact my publicist at Free Press, Carisa Hays: email@example.com / 212-632-4993. For other speaking engagements, please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The best way to contact me personally is via email: email@example.com although please know that it might take me a long time to answer. You can also send me snail mail at: Mira Bartok, P.O. Box 273, Athol, MA 01331. I don’t check my P.O. Box that often, just so you know. I will try to be better but I say that every year so there’s no reason you should believe me.
Unless you are a really close friend I’m sorry to say that I don’t read anything before it has been accepted for publication. If you do have a publisher (and not a vanity press) and your editor wants to send your galley to my agent that is fine. Her address is: Jennifer Gates, Zachary Shuster and Harmsworth, 1776 Broadway # 1405, New York, NY 10019-2002. But keep in mind that I have a TBI (traumatic brain injury), which means that I read very, very slowly and can only read books if I am not in the middle of some big project or on book tour. Therefore, I need to receive your advanced review copy at least two months in advance. And although my book is about my mother who was mentally ill, I am actually not a huge fan of survivor memoirs about mental illness. I prefer unusual literary memoirs (like Nick Flynn’s Another Bullshit Night in Suck City), illustrated memoirs (like Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home), but most of all I love quirky novels, speculative fiction, graphic novels, fantasy YA novels and anything oddly beautiful with a dark sense of humor.
First, I highly suggest listening to my good friend, famous children’s book author Jane Yolen’s advice: “BIC, HOP: Butt in chair, heart on page.” In other words: Just show up and do it. And while you shouldn’t bleed all over the page, don’t forget that you have both a brain AND a heart. Also—read great literature in a muscular way. Pay attention. Be willing to sacrifice a lot. Don’t whine. Have all kinds of readers read your work. Read out loud and read to others. Words are music—let them sing. And for god sakes, get a dog or cat, dance, be out in nature and read lots of poetry.
A perfect day of creating looks like this: I get up and read then I walk in the woods with my dog. If I’m up for it, I practice the violin (although I just bought a ukulele so that might trump the fiddle for now). Then I work on whatever project is calling me. I tend to write the best in the morning and do the best visual art later in the day.
As for inspiration, I am very image-driven. I usually start writing or drawing from an image I can’t seem to get out of my mindfrom dreams, films, real life, whatever. And sometimes a line comes to me and whatever I am writing springs from that. I also keep lists of delicious words and move them around to make surreal sentences so that my brain stays alert. I do the same with pictures, creating collages from found images, just to jump-start something new.
It has affected everything I do, especially my writing process. Most significantly, it deeply impacts how I manage my days. Although I look and sound ‘normal,’ I struggle with various cognitive issues and mental fatigue. The hardest thing for me is social interactions. Because of my TBI, if I have dinner with friends or do some kind of big public event, game over. I won’t write the next day. Maybe I won’t write for a couple days because I’m too fatigued. And driving even twenty minutes could be dangerous if I’m fatigued. Phone calls exhaust me too. So while I am a social animal, when I’m working on a big project I become pretty reclusive. I don’t like that but it’s just the way it has to be. My accident took away my ability to have a day job and still be able to work hard on creative projects. Right now, all I can do are my creative projects and hope that I can make a living from them. So far so good.
I love book groups but I don’t visit them that often. It takes a lot out of me to travel even a short distance and to be around a group of people is very tiring for someone with TBI.
I am usually about two months behind on email. It’s a bit daunting for me to get back to everyone who writes but I do the best I can. Thanks for your patience in advance. I know. I need an assistant. I’m working on that.
Well, I sat down for four years and wrote a book. I worked really, really hard and had no expectations, other than I wanted to write a beautiful and unusual manuscript. Before that, I took some workshops, went back to school for a while, and found some key people whose opinions I respected. I submitted work to literary magazines and eventually found my amazing agent. And she found my fantastic editors. But the work didn’t stop there. I had to be willing to get involved with social media and promote my book before and after publication. And just having a website isn’t enough. How will readers find you if you are one site among millions?
In other words, you need to do the work, you need to create community, and once you find a publisher you need to be willing to do even more work promoting your book, even if it means joining Facebook or Goodreads or twitter. Also, you should immediately get a subscription to Poets & Writers magazine if you don’t already have one. One more thingdon’t look at editors and agents as your enemies. There are still people in publishing who fall in love with books. Write a great book so that these people will fall in love with you and consequently, champion your work.
I only respond to people who send a little message along with their friend request or if we have mutual friends. So if you just add me as a friend without saying who you are, I won’t respond. But if you do, sure! I love to connect with my readers. You can also follow me on twitter.
It depends what it is and what is going on in my schedule. You can contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have a couple projects started. Time will tell which one takes over for the next couple yearsthe secret nonfiction one or the illustrated YA novel series. I am also editing and illustrating an anthology of fabulist stories about beasts and working off and on a couple radio documentaries for North of Radio, the new venture I started with my husband, musician and producer Doug Plavin. Stay tuned...