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Where realism and idealism meet Tony Brasunas, author of Double Happiness

Vote On My Author Portrait!

Do you know me well? Do you know me from Adam? (Sandler? Clayton? Baldwin?)

Either way, you can help me.

I have relatively little sense of marketing, and no training as a professional photographer, and I need to select a decent author’s portrait. Whether my book is picked up by a major publishing house, picked up by a boutique house, or the burgeoning 2.0 self-publishing option becomes the optimal path, I want to present a great image for my book now, and part of doing so is the author’s photo.

What photo would draw you in? Imagine an Eat, Pray, Love meets Into the Wild type of journey. What look would be fitting, credible, and intriguing? What might say, perhaps, ‘intelligent,’ ‘adventurous,’ or ‘engaging’?

Vote below. To vote for your favorite, just click on it. To vote for more than one, tick the boxes and click ‘Vote.’


Also, please leave a comment below to share why you voted the way you did.

If you don’t think any of them are any good, and I should hire a photographer, do tell me that.

The selected photo will eventually grace the back cover of the book as well as the top of this blog.

Last thing: I might change the picture on the About Me page, too. Thoughts?

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by Tony Brasunas on July 25, 2010

Double Happiness Mates With The World: My Book and I Find A Famous Website

Birth. Death. Sex. Your first taste of ice cream. Your first slow dance.

A handful of moments create us as human beings.

The first time someone signs on to Facebook does not quite rise to this level, and yet… It should be added, here early in the second decade of this young century, as a moment that amazes human hearts, that sends chills down spines, that reworks minds.

I just did it — joined on for the first time with the behemoth that goes by the initials FB — and when I clicked on its “friend suggestions,” lo and behold, arrayed before me were pictures and names of people I hadn’t heard from or even talked about in years. The girl I had a crush on in 8th grade. The guy who picked on me in 7th grade. My best friend from 6th grade.

It would be easy to call this the “Facebook moment.” But that would be inaccurate.

Any virtual network, to say nothing of a real, live event, could jolt this social electricity through the veins. More precise is to call this a synaptic event when the mental fog from living in a scattered society — this world of rapid travel and disjointed cities and long-distance families — vanishes, drops away, suddenly replaced by a forgotten closeness. In an instant, the vast fabric of superfluous strangers is gone, and now everyone matters, and the world again is what we evolved to understand: a community with about 150 people in it, all of whom we recognize.

That happened to me, yesterday. I still have only 9 actual friends, but I see dozens more “requests” and “suggestions” coming in, and I’m about to accept them all.

Please be one of them. Find me: Tony Brasunas. It’s easy, as you probably already know.

I’m also creating a page for my book, Double Happiness, so it too can find its social community, its friends and fans — so it too can feel the vast world drop away and its community telescope into intimacy. Probably Double Happiness will attract people who like to read, who like travel and China and humor and adventure and romance and spiritual awakening in a faraway land. Follow, fan, friend Double Happiness!

Well, enough from me. What do you think about Facebook? Much ado about nothing? A miracle in white, blue, and verdana? Are you too a holdout?

(And after you answer: I just added a ‘+’ button right below these words. So, um, share this to your FB!)

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by Tony Brasunas on July 18, 2010

How My Book Will Be Published

A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single step.

So goes a fine Chinese proverb.*

The thing is, after that first step, you still have a bit more than 9,999 miles. More than a hop, skip, and a dozen jumps.

Journeying through China broke me open as a teacher, as a visitor, as a human being; it nearly killed me; it was the most profound experience of my young life.

Now, writing this book might be the most profound experience of my not-as-young life. After striding boldly the first, let’s say, 7,000 miles of this journey — writing the manuscript, enlisting all kinds of people’s help, revising it seven times — still, several thousand miles remained: The many-stepped path to publication.

It’s not China, but the publishing world too is a strange, foreign place with its own languages, customs, foods, and family values. Whereas my writing journey was originally a solitary pursuit consisting of: 1. channeling my inspiration and memories, 2. spending insanely long hours of joy and tension with my favorite word processor, and 3. developing to their potential the story itself and the underlying themes on a universal level so that those who cannot journey themselves for a year through a faraway land still can comprehend the essence of what can unfold. Now it’s: 1. writing and rewriting a series of proposals and pitches to literary agents and their generally overworked assistants.

The illuminating work of self-examination and creative expression ended at some now-distant shore; today I’m in above my shoulders in industry lingo, editors’ legacy connections to F. Scott Fitzgerald, publishing conferences puddled in acronyms, bottom lines, pitch lines, punch lines, queue lines for a few open-minded agents, online lunches, offline schmoozes, iPad anxieties, “aiming at Amazon,” and crafting harrowing cold calls that go by the name Query Letter.

So, how far am I on this new journey? Feels like, roughly, milepost 9,424. The end is in view, friends, the book will be published very soon!

In April and May I sent out nearly 100 of these Query Letters.

(What exactly is this beast, the dreaded Query Letter? It’s a rigorously-formatted, meticulously-sculpted, one-page prose cold call addressed to a literary personage. Literary personages are invariably looking for The Next Big Thing. The Query Letter serves as a literary headshot.)

The month of June was good, tortuous and torturous. One, then two, then three, then fourteen literary agents asked to see the manuscript after inspecting my Query Letter. Ideally, hopefully, fingers-crossed, four-leaf-clover-behind-my-ear, one of them will choose to take my project on, represent me, and sell the manuscript (tentatively called Double Happiness: One Man’s Tale of Love, Loss, and Wonder on the Long Roads of China) to one of them big almighty publishing houses.

And if not: The funny thing is that the earth has shifted under their big almighty feet. A barbaric yawp has sounded! I’ve heard it and declared my freedom. The new possibilities of e-publishing have so amazed me during my research over the past two months, that, if it comes to it, I will gladly publish the new way.

Over the weekend I spent time on Lulu.com, an outfit that has staked out substantial space in the new publishing landscape, and although I’m not likely to publish with them, I tried my hand at designing a cover, poured the manuscript into their custom text editor and generator, and voila, for $11.38 they’re sending me a full color galley of my completed book!

The pros and cons to both the new and old publishing models are many. They are a topic for a future entry.

For now, what do you think: How long should I wait to see if an agent and conventional publisher pick up my manuscript and run with it? I’ll hear back from them sometime between five minutes ago and 2012 — in short, whenever they feel like it.

What say you, dear esteemed reader?

* Many more of which, as epigraphs, grace the chapters of Double Happiness.

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by Tony Brasunas on July 12, 2010


Welcome to this new room on the Internet, a place for talking about my forthcoming book, Double Happiness: One Man’s Tale of Love, Loss, and Wonder on the Long Roads of China.

Come here for backstory and frontstory, prologue and epilogue, before, after, and during your journey reading the book – and my journey publishing it.

The new journeys start now!

The truth is that I already appreciate you. For being here, for being curious, for being open to the two happinesses. I’d like to hear from you. I hope you will both read and participate: leave comments, send me thoughts. There will be opportunities here to do fun, special, helpful things, like opine on the book’s many epigraphs, choose my best author’s portrait (do you like the one atop this page?), vote on the book’s subtitle, and perhaps help me select art for the book’s cover.

What do you think about the design of this blog? Have any suggestions? Let me know.

Join me on a journey towards Double Happiness.

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by Tony Brasunas on July 6, 2010