Book Buzz || Surreal fiction, Iranian food memoir, Christoph Niemann's poetry collection

Every weekday, Publisher’s Marketplace emails the latest publishing deals in print, digital, audio and foreign sales (over 200 deals/week). Here are some of my favs -- not necessarily the biggest names or the buzziest deal… but the ones that piqued my interest for one reason or another.

THE FIRST BOOK OF CALAMITY LEEK by Paula Lichtarowicz
Agent: Clare Alexander at Aitken Alexander
Editor: Amy Einhorn and Caroline Bleeke at Flatiron Books
Description: Pitched in the vein of Karen Russell, about sixteen girls in a walled Garden, raised by a disgraced stage star on a diet of show tunes and twisted creation myths, and what happens when one girl starts asking questions about the world beyond the Wall of Safekeeping.

This sounds so goofy and strange and I'm a fan of women who write in this loopy style (Karen Russell, Katherine Dunn). The book is already available in the UK if you wanna grab an early look. (And, while we’re on this topic, just found out about Unstuck, a literary journal showcasing stories with “elements of the fantastic, the futuristic, the surreal, and the strange”.)

INSANE SILENCE by Sarah Barthel
Agent: Steven Chudney from The Chudney Agency
Editor: Martin Biro at Kensington
Description: A young bride-to-be who spies her fiancée murder a servant girl, and pretends to be insane and mute in order to escape the marriage and find safety in a sanitarium; while there, she gains the trust of a fellow patient -- Mary Todd Lincoln.

Whoa, what? Interesting how Lincoln has spawned his own genre of successful fan fiction. Here’s a crash course on MTD’s mental unwinding -- even before her husband’s assassination.   

DECANTING A MURDER by Nadine Nettmann
Agent: Danielle Burby at Hannigan Salky Getzler
Editor: Terri Bischoff at Midnight Ink
Description: The first in a new cozy series about a sommelier-in-training who discovers a dead body at a vineyard; when she finds out that her best friend is the prime suspect, she sets out to use her amateur sleuthing skills and knowledge of wine to clear her best friend's name; chapters are paired with wine recommendations to set the mood.

A wine cozy! With wine pairings! That’s the thing about food-related cozies -- you don’t want to get up and make a pie while you’re reading a mystery. But pouring a glass of wine? That’s totally doable.

 from  @abstractsunday , Christoph Niemann's Instagram

from @abstractsunday, Christoph Niemann's Instagram

ONE MINUTE TILL BEDTIME by Kenn Nesbitt with illustrations by Christoph Niemann
Agent: Jill Corcoran of Jill Corcoran Literary Agency for Nesbitt, and Liz Darhansoff at Darhansoff & Verrill for Niemann
Editor: Susan Rich for Little, Brown Children's
Description: An anthology of 150 original 60-second poems from a large collection of talent, including Dennis Lee, Lemony Snicket, Sharon Creech, Douglas Florian, J. Patrick Lewis, Jack Prelutsky, Jane Yolen, Judith Viorst, Lee Bennet Hopkins, Marilyn Singer, Nancy Willard, Naomi Shihab Nye, Pat Mora, Nikki Grimes, Sonya Sones, X.J. Kennedy, Mary Ann Hoberman and many others.

Man, short poems, by diverse authors, illustrated by an extremely versatile artist. A kid’s book, sure, but whatever. Never too old for good poems and art.

FINISHING SCHOOL: The Happy Ending to that Writing Project You Can't Seem to Get Done by Cary Tennis and Danelle Morton
Agent: Linda Loewenthal at David Black Literary Agency
Editor: Joanna Ng at Tarcher
Description: A guide to completing that manuscript or project you just can't seem to finish, addressing the psychological underpinnings of writer's block and how to combat them, and including guidance on how to develop a support system to create accountability. 

Right. Learning how to write a nice sentence is totally different from writing a novel. For me, writing a novel is as much about stamina, discipline, and organization as it is about lyricism and storytelling. Vision only goes so far and I’m a big fan of books and how-tos that help you treat writing like a job rather than a mystical process. (For more, I wrote a little bit about my get-er-done systems on Medium here.)      

THE TEMPORARY BRIDE by Jennifer Klinec
Agent: Eve White
Editor: Deb Futter at Twelve
Description: A young woman who abandons her corporate London job to start a cooking school in her kitchen and travels in search of ancient recipes; her quest leads her to Iran to learn the secrets of the Persian kitchen…but also leads her to forbidden love in one of the most complex and fascinating nations with harsh laws and customs.

Another book that's available in English-speaking countries not the US, where it's widely lauded. Forbidden love + food + a peek into a normally closed-door culture. Sold.