Writer's Block

10 Days

For JACK KERLEY, it's a numbers game. The Northern Kentucky writer had to get to THE HUNDREDTH MAN before sealing a $500,000 book contract with Dutton, a national publishing house. After seven years toiling away at his fiction writing, Kerley went from agent to sale in 10 days. "I think it is the writer's dream to all of a sudden sell a book for that much this fast," Kerley says of his whirlwind literary courtship. Kerley had written three previous manuscripts, receiving enough rejection slips to qualify as a struggling author. But success was "Almost There," his first (and Kerley admits probably his last) short story, which won first place in this year's MERCANTILE LIBRARY SHORT STORY COMPETITION. And it came about the way some of the best bets are placed. "It was kind of a dare from a woman at the Cincinnati Writer's Project," he says. His effort, to be published in CityBeat's Literary Issue in September, garnered him tuition and transportation to the 2003 Santa Barbara Writers Conference. And CityBeat tossed in a $300 cash prize, which seems anti-climactic and, well, downright cheap in the wake of a $500,000 book contract.

You would think we could've at least included a $10 gift certificate to Skyline Chili. I guess that didn't quite fit into our budget. Not that Kerley's complaining. The flurry of excitement over the last couple of months culminating in his publication deal, announced while he was attending the Writers Conference, has been a blessing. "I just was out there to basically hang out in the warm California sun. It kind of fell as a gift in my lap. I was excited and delighted," he says. Kerley landed an agent the Monday before the conference began. A week later his agent had an option for the book with announcement of sale coming two days later. The Hundredth Man, a delicious-sounding thriller about a team of detectives tracking a serial killer who leaves bizarre inscriptions on his victims, will be published in the U.S. next summer, with deals already in place to release it in Great Britain, Holland and Italy. And Kerley has begun work on his second to-be-published novel. "That was part of the deal. The second book has to use the same characters. It's what they call a serialization," he explains. It's a continuation of a passion that prompted Kerley to move from ad agency writer to freelancer so he could devote more time to his fiction. His lesson learned: Don't stop writing. "I like the momentum, the pacing, developing good solid intriguing characters," he says. "I loved to do it. And I figured if I put in enough time and learned the craft I could pull it off." Kerley's friends from the CINCINNATI WRITERS PROJECT (CWP) will celebrate his success from 7-10 p.m. at York Street Café with readings from Kerley and other members of CWP. Books from the various authors will be available for sale, and Roots Rock band Pike 27 will perform beginning at 9 p.m. 859-441-0390. ...

The three R's have fallen victim to downsizing and corporate takeover courtesy of THE COWGIRL SUPERSTARS and VIVID, a Northern Kentucky zine. Gone are the dearly departed 'riting and the pesky, annoying 'rithmetic as THE CINCINNATI ROCK & READ FEST gets corralled at SSNOVA. The night, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Saturday with a $5 admission, lassos area zinesters, self-published authors, literacy advocates and literary avant-gardists for some reveling and revelation of the written word. And as the R&R press release so humorously and accurately states, "Writers can't solely depend on each other for inspiration, and so the R&R pays homage to a source of continual divine inspiration for many contemporary artists: Rock & Roll." Right on! Those in attendance at this jamming convention/concert include X-RAY MAGAZINE, THEORY OF EVERYTHING, FRICTION MAGAZINE, POOL PARTY MAGAZINE, LITERACY IN NORTHERN KENTUCKY representing the literal portion of the event as THE WOOS, HUMANS BOW DOWN, FILM CAUGHT FIRE and MURDER YOUR DARLINGS take on the sonic duties. www.ssnova.org or e-mail [email protected]. ...

Local author CATHAL LIAM is FOREVER GREEN. His love affair with Ireland continues with his latest book, a collection of stories, political commentary and poems. The assortment is every bit as rich as the title promises. Liam brings his spiritual home to the city where he lives with a reading at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Kenwood Barnes & Noble. To sample this luck of the Irish, visit www.cathalliam.com. For information on the signing, call 513-794-9440. ...

A mime speaks! Dayton's CURTIS ZIMMERMAN is learning that silence isn't always golden. With I BELIEVE ... WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE?, Zimmerman, who will visit Books & Co. in Dayton at 7 p.m. Thursday, challenges readers to explore their own belief system with a series of open-ended statements and reflections. The result is an intellectual high-flying act. 937-298-6540.

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