Pride and Prejudice - The STORY GRID edition - Annotated by SHAWN COYNE

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ARCHIVES OF June, 2014

The Book I've Been Avoiding Writing

The Book I've Been Avoiding Writing

Red Tile Roofs

By Steven Pressfield | Published: June 30, 2014

I’m driving back from the Golan Heights with Eli. We’re on Route 6, the toll road south, passing an Arab town in Israel and I’m asking him if he believes there is any hope for peace.

Solar

Solar panels count even more

“Yes, and I will tell you why,” he says. “Look over there at that town.”

Eli calls my attention to the roofs.

“In Arab towns, even here in Israel, you will always see flat roofs. Flat roofs with rebar—iron bars for reinforcing concrete—sticking straight up out of the perimeter of the roof. Why? Because in Arab families, when the eldest son becomes engaged to be married, he is usually so broke that he has no choice but to move in, he and his bride, with his parents. He can’t afford a home of his own. That’s why you see the flat roofs. The family builds an apartment, an additional story on top of the house, and the son and his new wife move in.”

In Jewish Israeli towns, Eli continues, you never see flat roofs. You see sloped roofs, red-tiled roofs. Why? Because the sons, when they become engaged, are prosperous enough to buy their own homes. They don’t have to move in with their parents. (more…)

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What It Takes

What It Takes

The Why of Publishing

By Shawn Coyne | Published: June 27, 2014

[This is a mini-series about why and how Steve and I came to publish Solitary by Giora Romm. Thank you to the First Look Access members who jumped on the offer Steve sent them two days ago. We’ve opened a limited-offer of $3.99 per book here to everyone, available until June 30th at 11:59pm PST. Click here to access.]

So eighteen months ago, Steve calls me and says he’s just read a book he thinks I’d like. A friend of his wrote it.

That’s it.  No build up.  No pitch.  Just a “Will you read it?

The thing is that Steve rarely asks me to do anything.  He’s even reluctant to give me his own work until he absolutely has to.  He’s a pro.  And a pro doesn’t waste anyone’s time.

Straight off, I’m skeptical. I’m disinclined.  You need to be if you are a publisher.  The stuff Steve’s sent me in the past has been passionate and compelling…but none of it was right for us.  Neither have been the ones I’ve sent him.

The manuscripts we’ve recommended to one another could certainly make sense for other publishers, but we had yet to find anything that met the sweet spot of Black Irish’s raison d’etre.  And yes we have a very clear one. We have to be vigilant about our thing. Publishing can go bad very quickly.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Let’s take a step back. (more…)

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Writing Wednesdays

Writing Wednesdays

How Black Irish Acquired its First Book

By Steven Pressfield | Published: June 25, 2014

Black Irish Books is the little publishing company that Shawn and I operate, alongside our various day jobs. When I say little, I mean little. So far we’ve only brought out stuff written by me. That started to change, though, about two and a half years ago.

If you’ve been reading the Monday and Friday posts in this space (the ones about my researching The Lion’s Gate in Israel), you know that I had met and become friends with Giora Romm, the Israel Air Force’s first fighter-pilot ace. One day when Giora and I were driving somewhere he casually said to me, “Did I tell you I have had a book published? But it’s only in Hebrew.”

The book, Giora said, was about when his Mirage IIIC got shot down over the Nile Delta in Egypt. Giora had been captured, imprisoned in solitary confinement, and tortured. Ejecting from his plane he had broken one arm and shattered the opposite leg in a dozen places. That was the state in which he fell into the hands of his country’s worst enemies.

The interior title page of Giora's book in Hebrew

By that time I had been in Israel for over a month and had interviewed a number of IAF pilots over periods of many hours. I had not heard, yet, of a single Israeli flier who had survived capture in wartime. Either the pilot had been hacked or beaten to death by farmers or villagers the moment his parachute brought him to earth or, if he were fortunate enough to survive that initial contact, he had vanished into the darkness of captivity and was never heard of again.

“How did you survive, Giora?”

“That’s what the book is about.”

“Can I read it? Is there an English translation?”

One was in the works, Giora said. But it wouldn’t be ready for a couple of months.

“Will you send it to me as soon as you get it?”

“Of course. If you’re sure you want to see it.”

Giora was telling me that the Hebrew version—titled Tulip Four, the call-sign of his aircraft on the day he was shot down—had been a bestseller in Israel. The focus of the book was not only on the blood-and-guts of captivity but, even more, on the mental and spiritual struggle to recover after release and repatriation (Giora was returned home in a prisoner swap), to fly again, to lead a squadron in combat, to put himself back together as a human being after, in his phrase, “a fall from a great height.”

(more…)

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