Red Bishop

Today is the birthday (b. 1909) of one of the leading figures in Liberation Theology and social justice.

Dom Hélder Pessoa Câmara was a catholic archbishop in Brazil. Nicknamed: "Red Bishop".

He was instrumental in delineating the course of Liberation Theology, a premise for my latest novel.

To cut to the chase let me post some quotes from the colorful Dom Hélder Pessoa Câmara:

“When I give food to the poor they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food they call me a communist.”

“I will never carry a weapon and will never kill anyone. But I am ready to give life for the poor.”

“The greatest problem of the Church is not a lack of priests, rather the hunger faced by the people.”


Home made walnut liquor

Today we opened the first bottle of walnut liquor we made in July last year.

Wow! This is easily one of the best alcohols I've tasted in a long time.

It is said that walnut liquor is a miracle cure for heartburn and stomach pains caused by heavy meals. It was used for such medicinal purposes in ancient Poland.

Here's how we made it:

  1. 5 walnuts (must be still soft - before they ripen and turn hard)

  2. 1L of good quality vodka (45%)

  3. 1 tsp of sugar (optional)

  • Add finely sliced walnuts to vodka. Cork and place aside in a dark place for about 5 weeks.

  • You will notice that alcohol changed color to brown or dark brown.

  • Pour alcohol through cheesecloth (or a paper coffee filter) to a separate bottle and cork it, leaving behind just enough to keep walnuts covered.

  • Sprinkle walnuts with sugar and set aside for about 3 weeks. The result will be sweet syrup. Pour it through cheesecloth (or a paper coffee filter) to previously placed aside alcohol and stir.

  • If color is very dark, add more alcohol until it turns nice amber (tastes better.)

  • Cork and place in a dark place for 6 months or more. They say 1 year walnut liquor is best - I'll let you know when my second bottle is opened.



Rejection, rejection, rejection...

Recently, several writers asked me for some tricks or miracle ways that would help them find a literary agent and to publish their first novels. Each one of them already received upwards of 100 rejections to query letters.

There's good news and there's bad news.

The good: you've received only 100 rejections.

The bad: expect more.

Sadly, that is the reality of the post 1990s publishing market consolidation: a handful of key people where there was plenty.

Folks, you do not need an agent to get published (my example proves it), but it is becoming a Catch 22: more and more publishers will not accept anything from writers directly - submissions and queries must come from known literary agencies.

Trouble is... agents consider writers their worst enemy. Why? Because majority of writers do not make enough money to make the effort of selling their works worth while. What an agent wants is a Tom Clancy, someone who manufactures mega sellers so they can sit back and cash in cheques for nothing.

Imagine this scenario: an employer calls you and offers you a job - basically to cash in a cheque. What do you do?

Now look at it this way: you (the employer) offer a literary agent to sell your book and receive a cut from sale. What is an agent's reply? Some will send a bitchy reply to never-ever bother them again. Many will blacklist your IP / email address. Majority will ignore you (it makes no difference whether you query by email or snail mail, except that you will save money by emailing because despite assurances that all mail is responded to if an SASE is included - it is simply not so.)

Folks, there is no miracle way. Query, query, query... When an agent does not reply or when you receive a rejection without any explanation (95% of rejections) and you can't figure out why :

  1. re-send you query again after some weeks

  2. try another person from the same company

  3. change your subject line

  4. re-write your query / synopsis - concentrate on different aspects of your novel (make it sound more gory, or sexy, or political, or controversial, or change the genre it falls under...)

Finally, if you are only considering sending out your first query letters let me give you this advice: expect to receive rejections. Trust me, it will be that much easier to bear when you know they will be coming. They will be coming.

Start emailing literary agencies or publishers