Category Archives: Latest On The Book

I found an agent!

I have great news to share! I just posted the following on our Facebook group:

I found an agent! Actually, she found me. Here’s how it happened. And how I couldn’t have done it without you.
I would never say writing is easy. But it’s rewarding, pumping me with hits of natural opiates that keep me chugging along. And I’m in control, deciding what I want to write about, and when. So last summer, when I finished the draft manuscript, I was simultaneously excited by the accomplishment and dreading the next step: figuring out how to get it published.
I spent months working on a proposal, which I have since written and rewritten numerous times. I might as well have been pitching my book blind-folded on a stage, plugs in my ear, with little idea about how it was being received. I’ve never done this before. I had no idea what I was doing. And like sensory deprivation, the vacuum can be oppressive.
But you helped me. Posting about the process here on Facebook gave me the support I needed to keep going. Last December I gave myself six months to find an agent or self-publish (not that the latter would be easier, but at least I’d be in control).
Month after month, as rejections came in, I posted tidbits now and again. Your very interest encouraged me to keep sending out the proposal, to keep clarifying and improving it. It led me to take shots in the dark, like paying to post an ad on Publisher’s Marketplace. I had no idea of it was all just a scam, but I gave it a shot. So on Feb 11, 2015, I posted the following:
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Then something new happened. An agent contacted me, not the other way around. She read the ad and was curious. I sent her the proposal and, last month, invited me to talk on the phone. You might recall it; it was the last thing I posted about agents here. And after that I stopped, as it looked like it might be working. And it was one of her first pieces of advise: don’t build expectations until you know you can deliver.
And now a signed agent/author agreement has been passed back and forth via the US Postal Service. It’s official. I now have an agent. And as she emailed recently “Now that you can post!” [note: I actually don’t recall what she said, but it was something like that, but why ruin the flow of a good story. Now, where was I?]
We still have a ways to go. A new proposal will need to be written. And Anne will have to sell it (that’s her name – please say Hi to Anne!). And so much more. But I think it’s okay for me to start building your expectations once again.
A book is coming.
It’s about seltzer.
And my thanks to you will be how much you will love it.

It’s Done

After a decade of researching and writing the book, it’s done. With tremendous help this past year from many people, particularly my wife, Noemi, and friend, Julie, I finished writing (what I am now calling and hoping to stick with) Seltzertopia: The Effervescent Age.
I haven’t written much on the blog in recent years – my time has been split between the book itself and the Facebook group. But if I hope to return here one day, then I figured I had to mark this remarkable moment.
I have written this book three times. The first was just to figure out the chronological history of seltzer (boring). The second was an attempt to shape this history into a narrative (forced). The third attempt – inspired by the Pittsburgh Seltzer Work – took me to the end (I love it!).
And now that writing is over (I don’t pretend I am done – I am sure edits are down the road) it’s time to start sending it out to agents and publishers.
We’re in a new phase. And after being in and out of writing for so long, now I am facing something new. And it’s exciting.
And that begins renaming this blog. It is now Seltzertopia: The Effervescent Age. Give Me Seltzer has served me well, but it’s time to move on as the book has found its voice.

First book rejection

So this month I finished the book proposal and we have begun to shop it around. Last week I was excited to get my first book rejection. Why was I excited? Because after more than 5 years of thinking about and writing the book, a reject somehow makes it feel all more real. And I know there will be many rejections before the book finds it home, so this first rejection means we are on out way!
So why was it rejected? The editor felt like the book has a limited audience with readers mainly in NY, FL, CA and Pittsburgh. You can imagine what I think about that…

Meeting a link with selter history

William B. Keller, the focus of one chapter in my book, single handedly organized the fledgling bottling industry, which included seltzer bottlers, over 130 years ago. That’s him in the upper left. To MY right is his great-great-granddaughter, who just HAPPENED to be meeting her early-morning biking group right outside my hotel I was attending in Berkeley for business this morning. She was invaluable a year ago when I was writing about her family and it was so exciting to get to meet living history in person.

What do Jedis and seltzer delivery men have in common?

What do Jedis and seltzer delivery men have in common? Find out in my latest piece, and VIDEO, for the Forward:

Seltzer delivery is a dying art. Once, hundreds of “seltzer men,” as they liked to be called, drove the city and walked the streets of New York, carting cases of pressured siphons through rain and snow. Now, less than a dozen remain and, like Jedis with their arcane knowledge and mystical allusions to better days since passed, they move amongst us, largely invisible to the untrained eye.
Eli Miller is 78 years old, easily the oldest of the remaining seltzer men. In research for my upcoming book on seltzer, “Give Me Seltzer”, I contacted Eli for an interview. To my delight, he invited me to follow him along his route, if I could keep up. What follows is a brief collection of images and sounds from that day.

Atlantic Monthly Sends Give Me Seltzer a Shout Out

A recent article in the Atlantic Monthly called My Seltzer Conversion gives a lovely shout out to my project.

Sarah Elton’s lovely post today makes me want to see Seltzer Works, the documentary she mentions about one of Brooklyn’s last seltzer men, Kenny Gomberg—and wish we had a seltzer delivery service in Jamaica Plain. I can’t find one, but I do find Give Me Seltzer, a blog I’ll start reading, by one Barry Joseph, who’s at work on a history of seltzer he intends to make definitive. He’s got seemingly everything about current brands, and also equipment and its history.

The writer goes on to recount his conversion by his stepdaughter from tap to seltzer water when he received a Sodastream machine.
Notch another one up on the side of seltzer!