The Good-Bye Man (round three coming up)

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marilyn peake
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Re: My father had nothing to do with making that ship disappear.

Post by marilyn peake » December 13th, 2009, 2:48 pm

Hi, Rose,

This is just my own opinion, and Nathan would be a much better judge than me. I like the new version as an opening very much, but in order for me to know if I'd want to read the entire book, I'd probably need to know more about the type of scientific research materials you mention. That would be the hook for me, the information I would need in order to decide if I'd want to read the entire book. When I realized in your earlier draft that you were probably talking about the Philadelphia Experiment and time travel, I was extremely fascinated by the book you were writing. In the newer version, I don't have a sense of what makes your book truly unique. But that might just be my own preference, and others may feel very differently.
Marilyn Peake

Novels: THE FISHERMAN’S SON TRILOGY and GODS IN THE MACHINE. Numerous short stories. Contributor to BOOK: THE SEQUEL. Editor of several additional books. Awards include Silver Award, 2007 ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards.

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Re: My father had nothing to do with making that ship disappear.

Post by Mira » December 13th, 2009, 11:31 pm

rose wrote:
I think most of us need feedback.
Oh, yes. If you have anything in process that you feel you need fresh eyes on let me know.

Thank you again for you help. I also see now that part of my problem as the co-author has been in finding the right POV after maintaining strict invisibility throughout the writing of the memoir.

I am honored that you like my writing. I can tell from yours that you know the craft very well. What's your genre? I thought mine was going be unpublished kidlit, but apparently it is going to be unpublished memoirs if I can't disguise the identity of the (single) biographer of T. Townsend Brown, as Nathan has said no real people should be identifiable in a memoir. It makes it difficult to tell true-life stories.

rose
Rose, sorry, I just saw this. Actually I don't know the craft that well - I'm pretty new and just discovering my genres...which I think are prescriptive non-fiction and humor...I think. :) But I enjoy giving feedback. It's fun. Hopefully helpful, too. If not, I trust people will ignore it. :)

In terms of real life people being identifiable, I think it depends. Is it memoir only, or also biography? If it's biography, I think that makes a difference. There are ways to get permission....

In terms of the newer version - yes. I like this approach and voice alot. I don't know the story in the same way that Marilyn does, but this is much easier to follow and I find it very interesting.

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Re: My father had nothing to do with making that ship disappear.

Post by pladuim » December 26th, 2009, 1:50 am

Hi Rose,

Well, the people you run into trying to do some research. Just wanted to stop and say HI.

Pladuim

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Re: My father had nothing to do with making that ship disappear.

Post by rose » September 15th, 2010, 8:26 pm

Thank you, Pladuim.

I'm posting this revised query just to maintain a version trail. For the record, I am not Linda Brown, the author of the memoir. I am her co-author. When we submit this query via e-mail, we will make sure to hyperlink the book titles to their Amazon or B&N pages.

Unstinting criticism is always welcome. (Like medicine, it may be hard to swallow, but it will be good for the end results.) Thank you.

rose
***************************************************************************

Dear Agent

When a biographer first approached me about telling my father's story, I replied that I did not want to delve into that past. I most particularly did not want to be drawn into the hype surrounding Thomas Townsend Brown's work which had been fomented by a chapter devoted to him in the sensationalized 1979 book, The Philadelphia Experiment, and revived almost twenty years later in The Day After Roswell. My wishes in this matter turned out to be irrelevant, however. Repercussions of long-ago events were already hurdling my way and within the a six-year span of time, I would end up as the unanticipated heroine of Defying Gravity: The Parallel Universe of Thomas Townsend Brown (2009) and host of The Quonset Hut, my own internet discussion forum devoted to setting straight the record of my life and my father's work. In the meantime, Dad's scientific contributions would continue to garner notice, being mentioned frequently in Secrets of Anti-Gravity Propulsion (2008) and occasionally in Hide and Seek, a 2009 history of the U.S. Navy's activities during the Cold War years.

I grew up accepting that my family's unusual lifestyle (leading to my attendance at 48 schools in twelve years) was the price we paid for Dad's important and often classified work. Indeed, I was proud to be his sometime personal secretary and dedicated lab assistant; at least until my senior year of high school when my romantic attentions were taken up by a classmate, the handsome and scandalous JD Barrett. Unfortunately, that relationship was doomed from the start by JD's overriding ambition to be the next James Bond. William Stephenson (the famous "Man Called Intrepid"), Ilya Tolstoy, and my own father, would all conspire to help him reach for his goal.

THE GOODBYE MAN, a 65,000 word memoir, tells the story of growing up in a most unusual family and of a love lost, and found, and lost again within the framework of a woman discovering more than she has ever before known about her father's multi-leveled career, and about her own persistence in seeing justice done to his reputation.

Linda Brown has been a devoted journal keeper for most of her life. Her co-author, Jan Lofton, has been a business consultant in the top secret world of defense contracting, a college professor, and a freelance author. THE GOOD-BYE MAN is their first book together.

We are looking for an agent who represents history, memoir, and woman's stories. Sample Pages and a TOC are attached. Thank you for your time and consideration.
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Re: My father had nothing to do with making that ship disappear.

Post by wilderness » September 16th, 2010, 1:43 am

Hello, Rose. I think there are too many references here to other books. I'm completely lost in them. Is your purpose simply to prove the need for an accurate portrayal of Thomas Townsend Brown? If so, 1) Start with what is actually in the memoir-- the "pitch portion". 2) You can add a sentence at the end indicating that all of the other books in the market are not accurate representations, but sum it up. 3) I would not use the other books as an explanation of why you and your co-author chose to write the memoir.

In the pitch portion, you need to be a little more specific than this:
I grew up accepting that my family's unusual lifestyle (leading to my attendance at 48 schools in twelve years) was the price we paid for Dad's important and often classified work. Indeed, I was proud to be his sometime personal secretary and dedicated lab assistant; at least until my senior year of high school when my romantic attentions were taken up by a classmate, the handsome and scandalous JD Barrett. Unfortunately, that relationship was doomed from the start by JD's overriding ambition to be the next James Bond. William Stephenson (the famous "Man Called Intrepid"), Ilya Tolstoy, and my own father, would all conspire to help him reach for his goal.
Start with where the memoir starts. Does it begin with Linda as a little girl? Explain clearly who her father is for those of us who don't know. Explain the Philadelphia Experiment for those of us who don't know. Follow the narrative of the novel.

Also use consistent POV. In the top portion you have 1st person from Linda's POV. But then in the second to last paragraph both authors are 3rd person. Since you are not the daughter, I would use 3rd person to refer to Linda and 1st person to refer to yourself. Or be consistent and only refer to Linda in 1st person.

Hope that helps.

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Re: My father had nothing to do with making that ship disappear.

Post by rose » September 16th, 2010, 5:30 am

That's very helpful, Wilderness. Really, really helpful! Thank you for taking time to reply. The tense issue is a minor problem, and will be easily fixed and I will split out the booklist, hyperlink the titles and include some of them in a footnote. But to answer some of your other questions:
**************
The memoir actually begins when the query begins, which is when Linda was first approached by the biographer. She tells her story in the non-linear form commonly used for memoirs with a stretch of reminiscent vignettes, broken up by more current events and each of the 42 chapters has its own arc. Her story consists of three interwoven narratives.

One is the narrative of how she learned that her Dad was involved in counterespionage operations, spy satellite design, and in the development of "black programs" that have been kept hidden from the American public. This happens in a six year span.

Another consists of her recollections of an unusual childhood, beginning with her toddler years on the remote Island of Kuai in what was then the Territory of Hawaii. She writes of sitting at the kitchen table with her folks a few years later, participating in planning the organization that would become the National Investigation Committee on Aerial Phenomena, one of the first UFO research organizations. She remembers being handed NICAP reports, and told to look for the ones that wobble, because those would be "ours." She shares recollections of meeting such people as Bill Lear (Lear Jet), Beau Kitselman (NSA cryptographer), Robert Sarbacher (guided missile expert), Curtis LeMay (USAF General and architect of the Strategic Air Command), William Stephenson (Churchill's Spymaster) and nuclear physicist, Edward Teller. This time frame runs from 1945 to 1966.

The third strand, the one we feel gives the book the best chance of breaking out of its natural readership of Conspiracy followers, Free Energy enthusiasts, Engineers and techies, is the personal and romantic one, which stretches from 1964 to the present time.

Linda's husband of 42 years resents her commitment to the biography project, and they are in the midst of a marital crisis when JD, who was reported dead in 1987, shows up in her life once again. He now appears to hold an influential position in the NSA/NRO arena, and he is determined to see the biographer has the time and place background information he needs for his book. Without his participation, DEFYING GRAVITY would never have gotten off the ground. (I know that's a groaner, but I couldn't resist it)

Linda finds that her feelings for him have not changed over the years. They spend a brief amount of time together and his work takes him away before she can ascertain his feelings for her. The memoir ends at this point, but one is left with the feeling that JD is going to return, somehow, somewhere. After all, as he himself said, everybody has an agenda. And in his case, usually more than one.
*************

Whew. I can't wait to see if I can boil all of that down to one page tomorrow. But at least now I have a good start on my story synopsis. Woo-hoo. I'm a happy midnight oil-burner!

thanks again,
rose
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Re: My father had nothing to do with making that ship disappear.

Post by Quill » September 16th, 2010, 10:29 am

I'm jumping in late, but this sounds like a very interesting project. I do hope you include some juicy details for the uninitiated (as to the subject matter), such as what you wrote in your last post here, just to make it clear what this unique book is about. Looking forward to your next version of the query.

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Re: My father had nothing to do with making that ship disappear.

Post by wilderness » September 16th, 2010, 1:34 pm

Hi Rose,

I think your most recent post explains the story so much better than your actual query. You will need to explicitly state that the story begins with Linda meeting you (the biographer). Otherwise, it is confusing why you are telling us this. Or you could just leave that part out of the query and concentrate on the 3 main narratives that you explained above. The latter approach is probably the best and most clear. You could either use one paragraph for each of the narratives, or intertwine them.

I really recommend staying away from a list of other books, at least as the main portion of the query. Currently, you are presuming that your reader will know your references, but I don't think they will.

Good luck!

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Re: My father had nothing to do with making that ship disappear.

Post by rose » September 16th, 2010, 2:49 pm

Oh boy, two thumbs sorta up so far!

Wilderness, the reason I am loathe to give up the books entirely is that they demonstrate that we have an extant platform which is important to publishers of non-fiction. I will work on finding another way to work that in, however. And, as I have said, we will hyperlink each reference to make it easy for readers to familiarize themselves with the titles if they do not recognize them.

Quill, Wilderness, and anyone else who may interested in the technical aspects of the subject, The Unspeakable Lightness of Boeing (http://www.themissingtimes.com/Boeing.html) provides a fairly well-balanced overview of what was known, and what was conjectured about Townsend's work in regards to the B2 bomber.

And now, back to the query process...
rose (growing balder with every hair-pulling version)
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Re: My father had nothing to do with making that ship disappear.

Post by rose » September 20th, 2010, 11:47 am

Thank you again, Quill and Wilderness. I think we are far closer to having a completed query than we have ever been.
rose
*************************************************

Dear Agent

Once Linda Brown agrees to help a biographer document the life of her late father, fabled physicist Thomas Townsend Brown[1], she discovers that her Dad was involved in counterespionage, spy satellite design, and in a host of other "black programs" still hidden from the American public. THE GOODBYE MAN is her 65,000 word memoir of that six-year research effort, interspersed with recollections of an unusual childhood ranging from family homesteading adventures in the (then) Territory of Hawaii to the kitchen table planning for the National Investigation Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP), the first significant UFO research organization.

Although calm and collected in the presence of such famous people as William Stephenson (Churchill's WWII Spymaster), Ilya Tolstoy (Leo's grandson), Curtis LeMay (USAF General and architect of the Strategic Air Command), and nuclear physicist, Edward Teller, Linda's poise is rocked when, in her senior year of high school, she falls for JD Barrett, her handsome and slightly scandalous classmate whose overriding ambition is to become a real life James Bond. Impressed with the Russian-speaking, crossword puzzle solving young rebel, Linda's father and his associates conspire to help him reach for that goal. After JD disappears into the netherworld of the CIA, Linda vows that she will never again date a man whose career might come under her father's sphere of influence.

At the time her story begins, she has been happily married for 35 years. Husband George, long used to having her full attention, develops a burning resentment of her devotion to the biography project. The two of them are in the midst of a marital crisis when JD (who was reported dead in 1987) shows up again. He now appears to hold an influential position in the "Alphabet" arena, and is determined to see that the biographer has the background information he needs in order to write an accurate book. Although Linda finds that her feelings for him have not changed, JD's work takes him away again before she can ascertain his feelings for her. However, it seems that JD is certain to return, somehow, somewhere. After all, as he himself said, everybody has an agenda. And in his profession, usually more than one.

Author Linda Brown has been a devoted journal keeper for most of her life. Co-author, Jan Lofton, has been a business consultant in the top secret world of defense contracting, a college professor, and a freelance writer.

THE GOOD-BYE MAN is our first book together. We are looking for an agent who represents history, memoir, and woman's stories. Yada-yada (Whatever the submission requirements ask for) is enclosed

Thank you for your time and consideration.




[1] Now Published as Defying Gravity: The Parallel Universe of Thomas Townsend Brown[/color]. Townsend Brown’s work is also mentioned in these available books: The Philadelphia Experiment, The Day After Roswell, Secrets of Anti-Gravity Propulsion and Hide and Seek, a history of Naval espionage during the Cold War. A community of researchers devoted to investigating the life and work of Townsend Brown can be found online at The Quonset Hut, a discussion forum hosted by Linda Brown.
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Re: My father had nothing to do with making that ship disappear.

Post by wilderness » September 20th, 2010, 9:02 pm

rose wrote: Dear Agent

Once Linda Brown agrees to help a biographer document the life of her late father, fabled physicist Thomas Townsend Brown[1], she discovers that her Dad was involved in counterespionage, spy satellite design, and in a host of other "black programs" still hidden from the American public. THE GOODBYE MAN is her 65,000 word memoir of that six-year research effort, interspersed with recollections of an unusual childhood ranging from family homesteading adventures in the (then)(I don't think the parentheses are necessary, but it's okay) Territory of Hawaii to the kitchen table planning for the National Investigation Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP), the first significant UFO research organization. Great, so much clearer than before. You've explained the structure of memoir and given us a general idea of who Thomas Townsend Brown is, in case we don't know.

Although calm and collected in the presence of such famous people as William Stephenson (Churchill's WWII Spymaster), Ilya Tolstoy (Leo's grandson), Curtis LeMay (USAF General and architect of the Strategic Air Command), and nuclear physicist, Edward Teller, Linda's poise is rocked when, in her senior year of high school, she falls for JD Barrett, her handsome and slightly scandalous classmate whose overriding ambition is to become a real life James Bond. This sentence is a bit of mouthful, maybe split it into two. Impressed with the Russian-speaking, crossword puzzle solving young rebel, Linda's father and his associates conspire to help him reach for that goal. After JD disappears into the netherworld of the CIA, Linda vows that she will never again date a man whose career might come under her father's sphere of influence.

At the time her story begins, she has been happily married for 35 years. Husband George, long used to having her full attention, develops a burning resentment of her devotion to the biography project. The two of them are in the midst of a marital crisis when JD (who was reported dead in 1987) shows up again. He now appears to hold an influential position in the "Alphabet" arena (I haven't heard the term "Alphabet" arena, do you just mean government departments with acronyms?), and is determined to see that the biographer has the background information he (she?) needs in order to write an accurate book. Although Linda finds that her feelings for him have not changed, JD's work takes him away again before she can ascertain his feelings for her. However, it seems that JD is certain to return, somehow, somewhere. After all, as he himself said, everybody has an agenda. And in his profession, usually more than one. Not sure about these last couple of lines. Can you nail down a more cohesive conflict? Like what might his agenda be and what is Linda potentially going to do about it? Hopefully she has an active choice, something that makes her more participant and less passive observer.


Author Linda Brown has been a devoted journal keeper for most of her life. Co-author, Jan Lofton, has been a business consultant in the top secret world of defense contracting, a college professor, and a freelance writer.

THE GOOD-BYE MAN is our first book together. We are looking for an agent who represents history, memoir, and woman's stories. Presumably you've already researched the agent and whether they do represent the latter. Yada-yada (Whatever the submission requirements ask for) is enclosed

Thank you for your time and consideration.

[1] Now Published as Defying Gravity: The Parallel Universe of Thomas Townsend Brown[/color]. Townsend Brown’s work is also mentioned in these available books: The Philadelphia Experiment, The Day After Roswell, Secrets of Anti-Gravity Propulsion and Hide and Seek, a history of Naval espionage during the Cold War. A community of researchers devoted to investigating the life and work of Townsend Brown can be found online at The Quonset Hut, a discussion forum hosted by Linda Brown.
This is fantastic! Sounds like a very interesting memoir, and the query is so much more clear and coherent than before. You have very concisely given us a good feel for the memoir.

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Re: My father had nothing to do with making that ship disappear.

Post by Quill » September 21st, 2010, 1:28 am

rose wrote:
Once Linda Brown agrees to help a biographer document the life of her late father, fabled physicist Thomas Townsend Brown[1], she discovers that her Dad was involved in counterespionage, spy satellite design, and in a host of other "black programs" still hidden from the American public. THE GOODBYE MAN is her 65,000 word memoir of that six-year research effort, interspersed with recollections of an unusual childhood ranging from family homesteading adventures in the (then) Territory of Hawaii to the kitchen table planning for the National Investigation Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP), the first significant UFO research organization.

Although calm and collected in the presence of such famous people as William Stephenson (Churchill's WWII Spymaster), Ilya Tolstoy (Leo's grandson), Curtis LeMay (USAF General and architect of the Strategic Air Command), and nuclear physicist, Edward Teller, Linda's poise is rocked when, in her senior year of high school, she falls for JD Barrett, her handsome and slightly scandalous classmate whose overriding ambition is to become a real life James Bond. Impressed with the Russian-speaking, crossword puzzle solving young rebel, Linda's father and his associates conspire to help him reach for that goal. After JD disappears into the netherworld of the CIA, Linda vows that she will never again date a man whose career might come under her father's sphere of influence.
Your first paragraph contains 96 words in two sentences, for an average of 48 words per sentence. Too long.

Your second paragraph has 112 words in also two sentences, for a 56-word average. Too long.

Best to stick with 25 words or less.

I like the content. The tone seems a bit dry.
At the time her story begins, she has been happily married for 35 years. Husband George, long used to having her full attention, develops a burning resentment of her devotion to the biography project. The two of them are in the midst of a marital crisis when JD (who was reported dead in 1987) shows up again. He now appears to hold an influential position in the "Alphabet" arena, and is determined to see that the biographer has the background information he needs in order to write an accurate book. Although Linda finds that her feelings for him have not changed, JD's work takes him away again before she can ascertain his feelings for her. However, it seems that JD is certain to return, somehow, somewhere. After all, as he himself said, everybody has an agenda. And in his profession, usually more than one.
Here you suddenly switch to shorter sentences (eight of them with an average length of 18 words). This reads better (and the change in pacing is noticeable).

However, it's a bit unclear from the title and the description if this a book about the father or the one-time boyfriend -- or about the daughter. I'm unsure how much I'll be reading about secret organizations and clandestine operations, and how much I'll be reading about researching and a girl's feelings about homesteading and about her high school crush. You seem to give equal weight to both.

Is it a blend? If so, who is your target audience. Will conspiracy buffs enjoy the romance and the homesteading? Will memoir lovers get the technical jargon and stand the black helicopter alphabet stuff? Makes a difference how you market the project, doesn't it? Beginning with this query.
Author Linda Brown has been a devoted journal keeper for most of her life. Co-author, Jan Lofton, has been a business consultant in the top secret world of defense contracting, a college professor, and a freelance writer.

THE GOOD-BYE MAN is our first book together. We are looking for an agent who represents history, memoir, and woman's stories. Yada-yada (Whatever the submission requirements ask for) is enclosed

Thank you for your time and consideration.
Good.

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Re: My father had nothing to do with making that ship disappear.

Post by rose » September 22nd, 2010, 3:10 am

Thanks again, y'all.

Wilderness, I am not Thomas Townsend Brown's biographer. I came into this story in May, 2008, just in time to read the last chapters of DEFYING GRAVITY on the web. I was convinced that Linda lived somewhere close by, and I joined the book discussion forum. Mr. Twigsnapper, an octogenarian poster and former spook who first met TTB in 1945, set up a meeting between Linda and me. She and I are Now wrapping up THE GOOD-BYE MAN and talking about the parameters of the next book.

And here I am, still working on a reply to you and Quill that I started hours ago. I write. I erase. There are parts of Linda's story that we have downplayed in this memoir, because they seem too way out for the average reader. They would be too way out for me to accept if I did not know Linda personally. Though she may never tell everything she knows, she never lies about anything.

She is down to earth, focused and determined to do what she has to do to pull her father's science back into the "white world" and she is being aided in this by JD (who has ended up being far more than just a "high school crush"), Twigsnapper, and other spooky types. They, too, seem committed to helping to break the clamp down on TTB technology that occurred after the contents of his paradigm-breaking 1950 demonstration for President Truman were leaked to a mole in the Kim Philby spy ring.

Quill,we are having the book read by our beta group now. I'll be able to tell you more about how it is received by the various audiences after all the feedback is in.

rose
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Re: My father had nothing to do with making that ship disappear.

Post by rose » September 22nd, 2010, 1:11 pm

However, it's a bit unclear from the title and the description if this a book about the father or the one-time boyfriend -- or about the daughter. I'm unsure how much I'll be reading about secret organizations and clandestine operations, and how much I'll be reading about researching and a girl's feelings about homesteading and about her high school crush. You seem to give equal weight to both.
Quill, now that I've had a good night's sleep, let me try to tell you a bit more without getting myself off track by my own thoughts. Honestly, I have trouble breathing when I look at what the whole scope of this "unveiling project" might possibly be, I had a glimmering of it after reading DEFYING GRAVITY, but that was because my DoD secret clearance work equipped me to fill in a lot of blanks.

I was intrigued by the mystery-wrapped enigma stuff, but I was really taken in by the very human and very multi-generational aspect of her story. Her father had mentored Twigsnapper (British special forces and one of Ian Flemings "Red Indians") after WWII and Twigsnapper mentored JD, who ended up with enough clout to earn himself an escort of armed helicopters when he traveled.
Is it a blend? If so, who is your target audience. Will conspiracy buffs enjoy the romance and the homesteading? Will memoir lovers get the technical jargon and stand the black helicopter alphabet stuff? Makes a difference how you market the project, doesn't it? Beginning with this query.
VERY good questions. Linda tells the story of her first twenty-one years, as she knew it (or didn't know it) then, when Townsend Brown was just Dad. We try NOT to belabor the high tech espionage and alphabet stuff. Those who know their Cold War history will see it automatically. They will know that the Hawaiian homesteading was about establishing the premier listening post on the planet, the Pacific Missile Telemetry Range at the far west end of the far west island in the Hawaiian Islands. And they will know that when Townsend visited Mrs. Scattergood, who lived on the Potomac river, he was actually rowing in to work at CIA headquarters on Margaret Scattergood's former estate. But Linda was just agirl then and all she knew was that the lady sure had a funny name.

Here on the forum, Polymath writes wonderful pieces about narrative distance. It seems to me that a memoir is just about as up close as one can get, and in the telling of this story, we have tried very hard to stay in that close role, telling no more than what Linda would have known at the time. "Black Helicopter details such as the above are added as footnotes or parenthetical additions.

The "blend" in this story is that of memoir and oral history, but I believe that there is a warmth in it that will appeal to the "women over 50" segment of the bookbuying audience. So yes, you are spot on about the marketing needing to be well focused.

thank you,
rose
Last edited by rose on September 23rd, 2010, 11:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: My father had nothing to do with making that ship disappear.

Post by wilderness » September 22nd, 2010, 7:14 pm

rose wrote: Wilderness, I am not Thomas Townsend Brown's biographer. I came into this story in May, 2008, just in time to read the last chapters of DEFYING GRAVITY on the web. I was convinced that Linda lived somewhere close by, and I joined the book discussion forum. Mr. Twigsnapper, an octogenarian poster and former spook who first met TTB in 1945, set up a meeting between Linda and me. She and I are Now wrapping up THE GOOD-BYE MAN and talking about the parameters of the next book.
I see (now). Sorry if I was being a bit dense about the whole thing! Perhaps you can clarify it by naming the biographer in the first paragraph or possibly the footnote and then explaining how you happened to get involved in the authors' paragraph toward the end. Hope that helps!

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