Dear Dr. Oliver and Mr. Marcantoni,
I am pleased to submit my short story collection, Peeling Back the Night for your consideration. From the ghettos of San Juan to a checkpoint in war-torn Sierra Leone, this book follows social outliers as they struggle to survive at the fraying edges of their world. “Gringa Negra” recounts an ex-patriot’s eleventh hour attempt to rescue her friend from an impending drug raid in Old San Juan. “August Lokken” follows a Norwegian fisherman’s night time boat ride into the Straits of Juan de Fuca to discover his brother’s terrible secret. “Bearyote: Ultimate Predator” takes a satiric look at the sinister side of suburban America as neighbors reveal their true nature in an escalating war for control over a pet cat. With a sprinkling of magical realism, a dose of social commentary, and a liberal injection of black humor, Peeling Back the Night shines an unflinching light on the shadows of society and the minds it creates.
My writing is heavily informed by my upbringing as a first generation American born to Sierra Leonean parents, as well as five years spent living in San Juan, Puerto Rico. My eighteen-year-long career in journalism began at the English-language newspaper, San Juan STAR in San Juan and continues in my hometown of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Some articles published during my tenure at the San Juan STAR were translated into Spanish. I have written on topics as diverse as urban wildlife, flamenco dance, the Maroons of Jamaica, Japanese swordsmanship, and tissue engineering.
My short story “Captain Blood is Coming” has been accepted for publication in the “Encyclopedia Project Vol. 3 L-Z” edited by California Institute for the Arts professor Tisa Bryant and award-winning author Miranda Mellis. “A Bed for Damaris” won first place in the 2012 Current Magazine Poetry and Fiction Contest judged by Davy Rothbart. I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Michigan, and am currently pursuing a master’s in creative writing at Eastern Michigan University. I am participating in a year-long mentorship with Aignos Publishing, and will be teaching poetry at the Huron Valley Women’s Prison as an intern in the fall of 2014.
I want to appeal to edgy, politically active adults from all classes, cultures, and backgrounds. This group is social media savvy, and my digital strategy will include a robust presence on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Goodreads, and Instagram. My active, conversational presence will be directly responsive to my readers interests and questions in real time. I also plan to set up an author page on Amazon with links to my blog and other social media outlets.
My readership gravitates to university towns and diverse metropolitan areas. Book tours, interviews, and author events will be networked through colleges, bookstores, cultural centers, and public radio stations in those communities. I plan to target states with a legacy of progressive politics like Oregon, Washington, Rhode Island, and Vermont. I intend to work with The Michigan Center for the Book, a government department dedicated to advancing the careers of Michigan writers; it coordinates and promotes library events and author tours around my home state.
I decided to approach Aignos Publishing because of your uncompromising commitment to promoting authors who voice the “unspeakable.” Aignos’ bold exploration of issues like addiction, sex slavery, violence against women, and political corruption is inspiring. We share core artistic and political values that shape our creative interests. I would also like to publish Peeling Back the Night in Spanish, and your press can accommodate that vision. I believe that you will handle my work with care, sensitivity, and a heightened understanding of what it means to be writing as a person of color.
Thank you for your time and consideration. I hope you enjoy my work, and I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.
Yma A. Johnson