I married my way in.
I married my way in, too. Oops! No one's supposed to know. Actually, Veronica and I met at a writing workshop, and Michael and I met at Veronica's first book signing. Kismet!
Wait...who’s married to whom? Flow chart!
Veronica is hyper competitive. But she doesn't mind being last when it comes to leaving the house. I spend a lot of time waiting. Lorin is wicked smart. She makes references that I often have to look up in Wikipedia.
Love that, Michael. You probably should check with a more reliable source, though! And I can totally see that, where Veronica is concerned. But what's amazing is that she's also one of the kindest people I've ever met. I have literally never heard her say a bad thing about anyone. Also, a reviewer called her a "Brazilian Goddess," so I think that should be duly noted. And, to balance that out, she makes the world's most awful eggplant dip. It had to be said! Michael is still an onion to be peeled, but one thing I see is that there's a real storyteller in there, waiting to be released into the wild. He's got super sharp business acumen, thank goodness. And a little younger George Clooney thing going on. You guys make kind of a ridiculously adorable pair!
George Clooney you say? Like his less attractive, less talented little brother? Still, I'll take it. Thanks for the storyteller compliment. Praise from Caesar.
I’m not that competitive, am I? (Actually, I know I am. I just want the last word.) Michael is a pretty great, sharp guy. He’s a man of vision, integrity and drive. (I was trying to keep that strictly professional. How’d I do?) Aw, forget it. He also has a great sense of humor and makes the world’s best blueberry pancakes. Lorin has, quite frankly, one of the sharpest minds for stories I’ve encountered. I like to call her the Story Savant. And she’s incredibly kind and generous. If she has a tin of Altoids, she’ll give you as many mints as you can handle.
You did amazing Veronica. I promised myself that this Q&A would not make me cry. Watery eyes!
Get a room.
I have always fashioned myself an entrepreneur. For the last fifteen years as a business development executive, I learned the ropes inventing business opportunities, launching products, shaping strategies and striking relationships. Now I get to put those skills to practice at Wildcard Storymakers. With Lorin and Veronica at the creative helm, I'm happy to be taking care of things behind the scenes.
Even though I'm far too young for this to be possible, I bring a couple dozen years of writing, editing, and story-building experience to the business. I've taught fiction craft, put on writing workshops, edited probably a million manuscript pages, and have been on the work-for-hire/ghostwriting end of things as well. More than expertise, though, I think I bring an absolutely unfettered enthusiasm for all things story.
I wrote a trilogy. Oh, and two novellas. And that’s just my warm-up act! (Okay, maybe I am hyper competitive.)
You forgot to mention that you hit the New York Times Bestseller list.
I was going to go there if you didn’t, Michael! Not only are you a successful author, V, but you really understand both STORY and the hard work that goes into a great story. You know how to take it apart and put it back together in a way that will so benefit our writers.
I have been looking for the right set of conditions to start a business for some time. The changes going on in publishing provide a ripe environment for opportunity. I am convinced that matching fresh and innovative story concepts with talented writers that are fairly compensated coupled with our access to agents and editors is a winning formula. And riding shotgun while Lorin and Veronica shape stories is a nice perk. They ooze creativity.
Oh, phew: that's CREATIVITY I'm oozing! Big relief. I agree with all of your points, Michael. For me, too, this is really a fulfillment of a lifelong effort to help writers succeed. This adds another more concrete step to the process. It also helps me stir my love of not just editing and writing but book design and packaging into the mix. I also have a ton of respect for my partners here, and absolutely love that crackling, wonderful energy that comes with a powerful collaboration. I have it with you guys, and I'm looking forward to having it with our legion of awesome authors!
I agree. This is something we’ve wanted to do for a while. I truly couldn’t be more excited about it.
Let's start with my greatest strength, that's easier. I am a very good listener. I once received advice to be interested, not interesting.
I remember when I told you that.
Because you’re too nice to just say, “Shut it, man!”
I think at times people try so hard to make a strong impression, too hard sometimes, especially in a business setting. But I feel they miss an opportunity to learn by listening to others. I often find the more I listen and ask questions the more someone is willing to share, which often leads to developing a strong relationship built on trust. My greatest weakness, is that I may too willingly give people the benefit of the doubt. I prefer to believe that people are fair and will more often than not do the right thing. Sometimes, you can be burned, but on the other hand I feel more at peace seeing the best in people rather than the worst.
Greatest strengths? I like to think I'm empathetic. I'm also a problem solver. I'm not one to wring her hands for long but to roll up my sleeves and dive into a problem. For a sensitive artiste, I'm quite pragmatic and can be detail oriented, which is a big help in the plotting department! I also find that each year brings greater and greater optimism, which is a pleasant surprise! Weaknesses? Maybe this should also be a category that other people answer for us. While we shield our eyes! I think just about anyone would tell you I can be stubborn. Maybe a pinch control freaky. I guess like Michael's "weakness," this has its benefits, but others in my life might disagree!
Greatest strength? Probably my biceps. But seriously. I’m going to give the classic answer to this question: perfectionism is my greatest strength and weakness. What can I say? I like things to be as awesome as possible.
I think we all have that in common. We’re like a Triumvirate of Awesomeness.
You're both hired!
Did I already mention that Veronica and Lorin ooze creativity? Besides that, being writers themselves, they are extremely sympathetic to the plight of the writer. Since I'm married to a writer, I'm sympathetic too. I'm thinking of starting a support group for husbands of writers. Who's with me?
I think that's a lot of it. We're passionate about writing and, actually, about publishing. But we're most passionate about telling a great story and not being afraid to color outside the lines here and there. Writers who work with us will be encouraged to do so as well. They'll be challenged--really challenged--but they'll also be respected. Also, we're a load of fun, if I do say so. We take our work seriously but not ourselves. Writers who join us are more than cogs in a story-spewing machine. They're essential collaborators, and we have a ton of appreciation for them!
Why work with us? Because you get a jester hat when you become part of the team. Admit it. You want one.
Ooh, me! Me!
Michael and Lorin have done a great job of covering our approach and our passion. To put it simply: we love writers and we love stories. How could you not want to be part of that?
The achievement of something desired, planned or attempted. Wait, that's Webster's definition of success. First of all, my goal is to achieve success in all facets of my life. In my opinion you can't enjoy success in your career, if you are not also achieving success in your marriage, family, or whatever else matters to you. Needless to say, I don't believe the single achievement of say wealth is the ultimate measure of success. Wealth may be byproduct of important factors like financial security, or the ability to grow Wildcard and reward its contributors or take an awesome vacation whenever you want. But if you are not healthy, or if you don't love what you do, or don't get along with the people in your life, it's sure hard to enjoy that vacation. There are so many other elements that go into achieving success, and ultimately its about finding the balance that feels right for me.
Being able to do what you love, with integrity; helping people reach their dreams; creating a passage of truly elegant prose; having an amazing family AND an extended family of like minds and souls: all of that constitutes success in my book.
For me, success is closely tied to passion. When your heart is really in something—work, family, or whatever else—that’s success. Paychecks are also a good measure. (I’m kidding!) (Half-kidding!) (That was a bad joke, wasn’t it?)
If I could go back in time and re-live the eighties, I would in a heartbeat. I was in high school in the late eighties and had a blast. It was the last decade before teenagers became integrated with technology, which makes it feel more carefree and naive, in my opinion. Besides, the music was rad.
I need to know if you were a new wave geek like me—or one of those hair metal band dudes? My confession: I have never seen all of 2001, Dr. Strangelove, or the entire Star Wars saga. And I've only watched one episode of the new Dr. Who. I feel like my geek cred may be rescinded.
You've never seen the entire Star Wars saga? That is embarrassing. I've seen it at least fifty times. Wait, that may be more embarrassing.
I get lost easily, and while I never forget faces, I could be better at remembering names. I blame that on my writing. I spend a lot of time writing scenes in my head.
I enjoy playing any kind of sport. I revert back to being a kid when I'm competing at something, whether it's Wiffle ball with my sons or golf with my buddies.
Make room-sized toothpick sculptures of the great libraries; flog otters; add pages to my multi-volume love letter to Dave Eggers. (I'm totally crashing that dinner, Michael!) Really, my spare time needs some livening, so I'll take suggestions. I do love to travel, to read, to go to movies, to listen to live music when I can. This is starting to sound like a dating profile!
Ha ha ha. That’s a joke question, right? I mean… I think I can remember having free time. When I can grab a few minutes, I go for walks (so I can listen to audiobooks) or go to movies (so I can see stories on the big screen.) I’m basically either writing stories or absorbing them 24/7. That makes me sound boring, doesn’t it? Sometime soon, I’m going skydiving! I lived in Italy while I studied art! When I eat sushi, I am not afraid to get after the wasabi!
I think even more than our incredible love of story, our similar sensibilities, and our work ethics, it’s really sushi that ties us together, V. Don’t you think? (Not literally, though; that would be gross.)
THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE, THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA, THE SON, THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN, OUTLIERS: THE STORY OF SUCCESS.
DARING GREATLY, (also) THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE, THE DOVEKEEPERS, ELEANOR AND PARK, and THE GOLEM AND THE JINNI.
Wow. So I guess we’re all fans of Neil Gaiman. Hurry up and read OCEAN, Michael, so I can. Then I say book club!
Maybe we’ll start a Wildcard Book Club and make our authors participate. I mean…er…INVITE them to participate!
THE NAME OF THE WIND (Patrick Rothfuss), THE BITTER KINGDOM (Rae Carson), THE 5th WAVE (Rick Yancey), UNBREAKABLE (Kami Garcia), and I also want to reread PERSUASION (Jane Austen).
Sigh. Jane Austen. Oh, lord, the books I’d RE-read if I had the time!
So I may have had to read all of these for school, but nonetheless I love these books: THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO, CATCHER IN THE RYE, THE CALL OF THE WILD, THE OUTSIDERS, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, OF MICE AND MEN.
PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH, LITTLE WOMEN, FRENCHMAN'S CREEK, GONE WITH THE WIND, HALF-MAGIC.
Anything by Tolkien, anything by Judy Blume, anything by Susan Cooper, anything by C.S. Lewis, anything by Stephen King.
God bless Judy Blume for bringing so much weird girl stuff into the light! She probably saved me years of therapy.
Good food. Especially something new and exciting. Or food I don't get to have very often. When we visit family in Miami, we always go to a Brazilian Churrascaria (steakhouse). I act like an idiot on my way to the restaurant. And sometimes when I'm there too. Can you say Caipirinha?!
Really GREAT theater or musicals. Pretty much any kind of live performance. Client breakthroughs. I think it might be a shorter list to enumerate the things that DON'T make me act like an idiot!
I'm with you Lorin, the things that don't make me act like an idiot is a far shorter list.
Too much caffeine. And really great stories.
I don't want to talk about it!
People who won't talk about what makes them mad! Okay, really: Bigotry/intolerance. Also, folks who thrive on, and try to spread, negativity. Cynics. Dream-suckers. Bleh.
I'm in the same boat as Lorin, negativity drives me batty. Don't bring me down, man. I'm living in the positivity of the moment.
Bigotry. Prejudice. When people don’t let you merge onto the freeway.
Ayn Rand, Mark Twain, Dr. Seuss, Truman Capote, Mario Puzo
I’d like to be there when Ayn Rand accuses Dr. Seuss of being a “moocher.” For me: William Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, Isaac Asimov, Virginia Woolf, Jane Austen.
A coroner? Kidding. Austen, Bronte, Tolkien, Lewis, Seuss.
Veronica Rossi, J.K. Rowling, Dave Eggers, S.E. Hinton, Stephen King.
Well, can I just assume that you, Veronica, and I are HOSTING? I'm going to assume that. So: Dave Eggers, Harlan Ellison, Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, and, oh, it's so painful to pick. Let's say, David Sedaris because he's so damn funny. Or David Sedaris, sitting on Jenny Lawson’s lap.
An impossible question. I know too many writers who I’d want to spend time with. Cop out answer, but it’s the truth.
I'm looking forward to having brunch with all the published authors of Wildcard Storymakers!
Hope they like sushi!