My Novel

  1. Synopsis
  2. Chapter One
  3. Simon & Schuster Award

Synopsis

silicon valley My Novel

Set in Silicon Valley and India during the recession of 2001, “Speechless” is about a young woman, Mina, haunted by her role in her mother’s murder. She must confront her demons until she redeems herself through an act of great courage.

Mina’s past resurfaces when she goes to India to sell her childhood home. Tormented by guilt and memories, she fails her best friend, Neelu, who supported her through the murder investigation. Consequently, Neelu has to give up her American lover and agree to an arranged marriage.

On her return to California, Mina struggles to cope with ever-increasing pressure at work and the emotional aftermath of her trip to India.  She also tries, without success, to repair her friendship with Neelu, now in the US with her husband. During a terrible fight, Neelu accuses Mina of causing her mother’s death, and ends the friendship. A distraught Mina finally confesses her part in the murder to her husband. It helps her to begin healing, but she finds true redemption only when she puts herself in danger to help Neelu.

Simon and Schuster Award

simon schuster My Novel

The First Chapters Writing Competition, also dubbed “American Idol for Books”, was conducted by New York publisher Simon and Schuster and Gather.com. Over 2600 novelists submitted the first three chapters of their novels for independent review and voting. Five finalists were awarded cash prizes.

 

  • Gather.com Announces Five Finalists in Writing Contest Dubbed “American Idol for Books”

    gather My Novel
    first chapters My Novel

    NEW YORK & BOSTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Gather.com, the leader in social media for adults, and the Touchstone imprint of Simon & Schuster, a global leader in the field of general interest publishing, today announced five finalists in the Gather.com First Chapters Writing Competition. Referred to by numerous media outlets as “American Idol for Books,” the competition has received 2,676 manuscript submissions since its inception in January. The names and hometowns of the five novelists advancing to the finals are listed below, as well as online at firstchapters.gather.com.

    • Geoffrey Edwards–Chicago, IL
    • Scott Middlemist–Phoenix, AZ
    • Geeta Menon–Los Altos, CA
    • Stephen Prosapio–Oceanside, CA
    • Terry Shaw–Knoxville, TN

    » Read more…

  • “Speechless” Los Altos novelist a finalist in “American Idol”-type book competition

    los altos town crier My Novel

    COURTESY OF GATHER.COM Geeta Menon of Los Altos is among the top five finalists in an online book competition.

    » Read more…

  • Local writer in contest for book deal

    palo alto daily news My Novel

    In yet another sign of the digital age in which we live, a Los Altos author may see her novel published thanks to hundreds of online votes.

    » Read more…

Gather.com Announces Five Finalists in Writing Contest Dubbed “American Idol for Books”

Tuesday, May 22, 2007 9:00 am ET

Winner to be Awarded Guaranteed Publishing Contract with Simon & Schuster

NEW YORK & BOSTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Gather.com, the leader in social media for adults, and the Touchstone imprint of Simon & Schuster, a global leader in the field of general interest publishing, today announced five finalists in the Gather.com First Chapters Writing Competition. Referred to by numerous media outlets as “American Idol for Books,” the competition has received 2,676 manuscript submissions since its inception in January. The names and hometowns of the five novelists advancing to the finals are listed below, as well as online at firstchapters.gather.com.

  • Geoffrey Edwards–Chicago, IL
  • Scott Middlemist–Phoenix, AZ
  • Geeta Menon–Los Altos, CA
  • Stephen Prosapio–Oceanside, CA
  • Terry Shaw–Knoxville, TN

“The energy around the First Chapters Writing Competition is truly electric,” says Tom Gerace, Gather.com founder and Chief Executive Officer (tom.gather.com). “The Gather.com community has ignited the blaze of competition and taken user-generated content to a whole new level.”

Four of the five finalists were selected by Gather.com members and one was picked by the Gather.com editorial staff. The manuscripts of the five finalists will be evaluated by an esteemed judging panel, including Carolyn K. Reidy, President of the Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group; Mark Gompertz, Executive Vice President & Publisher of Touchstone Books; George Jones, CEO and President, Borders Group and Tom Gerace, Founder & CEO, Gather.com. The panel will select one talented novelist as the Grand Prize Winner on May 31st.

“Everyone loves an underdog and Touchstone is excited to publish the winner and make one aspiring novelist’s dream come true,” commented Mark Gompertz, Executive Vice President and Publisher, Touchstone.

The Grand Prize winner will be awarded a guaranteed publishing contract with Touchstone and a $5000 cash prize from Gather.com. The winning book will be available wherever books are sold. To obtain more information regarding the specifics of the judging, please reference the competition timeline below.

GATHER.COM FIRST CHAPTERS WRITING COMPETITION TIMELINE
Round 1: January 11 – April 3, 2007: COMPLETED

Round 2: April 4 – May 1, 2007: COMPLETED

Round 3: May 2 – May 22, 2007: COMPLETED

Winner Announced: May 31, 2007:

The esteemed judging panel will select one talented novelist as the Grand Prize Winner!

The Judging Panel:

– Carolyn K. Reidy, President of the Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group

– Mark Gompertz, Executive Vice President & Publisher of Touchstone Books

– George Jones, CEO and President, Borders Group

– Tom Gerace, Founder & CEO, Gather.com

In addition to receiving a guaranteed publishing contract and distribution with Touchstone, the winner’s book will receive significant promotion at Borders®, the official bookseller of Gather.com. As the retail sponsor of Gather.com, Borders, Inc., a leading retailer of books, music, movies and stationery items, is promoting the First Chapters competition via email to its millions of Borders Reward® members.

About Simon & Schuster

Simon & Schuster, a part of the CBS Corporation, is a global leader in the field of general interest publishing, dedicated to providing the best in fiction and nonfiction for consumers of all ages, across all printed, electronic, and audio formats. Its divisions include Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing, Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, Simon & Schuster Audio, Simon & Schuster Digital, and international companies in Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. For more information, visit our website at http://www.simonsays.com/.

About Gather.com

Gather.com (http://www.gather.com/) is the leader in social media for adults. Gather.com members connect around shared interests ranging from politics to books and from cooking to travel, and they’re compensated for their activity on the site. Members can engage in conversation with state and local politicians, health and financial experts, personal coaches, bestselling authors, and more. Over one million people visit Gather.com each month to read content created by Gather.com members. Gather.com has a highly educated, highly informed adult audience membership — a demographic elusive to most social networking sites. This demographic has made Gather.com an exceptional partner to media companies, advertising agencies, leading consumer brands, book publishers, and movie studios. Gather.com is a privately held, privately funded company headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts. Investors include Allen & Company, The American Public Media Group, Hearst, The McGraw-Hill Companies, and Southern California Public Radio. For more information, visit www.gather.com or call (617) 720-4000, x1032.

About Borders, Inc.

Borders is a subsidiary of Borders Group, Inc. (NYSE: BGP – News) a $4.1 billion retailer of books, music, movies and stationery items that trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol BGP. Headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Borders Group, through its subsidiaries, operates more than 1,300 Borders and Waldenbooks stores and employs more than 32,000 people worldwide who serve more than 30 million customers each year. More information on the company is available at http://www.bordersgroupinc.com/.

Contact:

Contact Touchstone/Simon & Schuster:
Simon & Schuster
Marcia Burch, 212-698-2100
Marcia.Burch@simonandschuster.com
or
Contact Gather.com:
Kel & Partners
Liz Bradley, 857-891-5531
liz@kelandpartners.com
or
Additional Contact for Touchstone/Simon & Schuster:
Martin Barabas, 212-865-9797
martin.barabas@earthlink.net

“Speechless” Los Altos novelist a finalist in “American Idol”-type book competition

COURTESY OF GATHER.COM Geeta Menon of Los Altos is among the top five finalists in an online book competition.

Geeta Menon of Los Altos is one of five finalists in the Gather.com First Chapters Writer Competition, dubbed by some media outlets as an “American Idol for books.”

The competition, sponsored by Gather.com, which specializes in social media for adults, and the Touchstone imprint of Simon & Schuster, drew 2,676 manuscript submissions since its inception in January.

Joining Menon as finalists are Geoffrey Edwards of Chicago, Ill., Scott Middlemist of Phoenix, Ariz., Stephen Prosapio of Oceanside and Terry Shaw of Knoxville, Tenn.

Menon’s entry, “Speechless,” is a novel set in Silicon Valley in the days between the dot-com bust and Sept. 11. It describes three bright yet disparate people whose lives intersect at a speakers group. The story is at least partially inspired by Menon’s own experiences. She traveled from India to Silicon Valley for work in the mid-1990s and is a member of Toastmasters International.

She said she had the book finished when she read about the contest online.

“The writing was easy,” she said of the eight-month project. “The editing, rewrites and promotion took a whole lot longer.”

The criticism also stung – her contest entry drew online responses from all over the world, some of them unkind. And, like “American Idol,” she and the other finalists have banded together as friends, offering each other support.

Menon said she entered the contest because she “wanted to be published by Simon & Schuster. I also thought it was a great way to get candid feedback.”

Menon credited her mother for the inspiration to enter. “She wrote very well, and I believe I derived the talent from her,” she said.

Menon, who is married and has a child in kindergarten, is a former product marketing employee for a software company.

Four of the five finalists were selected by Gather.com members, and one was picked by the Gather.com editorial staff. A panel of judges in the publishing industry will evaluate the manuscripts of the five finalists. The panel will select the grand-prize winner Thursday.

Touchstone will guarantee a publishing contract and Gather.com will present $5,000 cash to the grand-prize winner. The winning book will be available wherever books are sold.

Even if she doesn’t win, Menon said she feels her chances of getting her book published are good. As for her chances of winning the contest, she feels confident. She thinks the contemporary setting of her novel gives her an edge.

“I’m a lot calmer now (reaching the top five) than I was last week,” Menon said.

To view contest entries, visit http://firstchapters.gather.com.

Local writer in contest for book deal

Thursday, May 31, 2007
By Melanie Carroll / Daily News Staff Writer

In yet another sign of the digital age in which we live, a Los Altos author may see her novel published thanks to hundreds of online votes.

Geeta Menon’s book “Speechless” is among five finalists in what some are calling the “American Idol for Books.”

The First Chapters Writing Competition, coordinated by Gather.com and New York publisher Touchstone Fireside (part of Simon and Schuster), received a total of 2,676 manuscripts, with the top five vote-getters announced last week. The winner, who gets a book deal and $5,000, is slated to be named today.

Menon said she hopes she will win but even if she doesn’t, she has something to show a potential agent, who in turn could pitch her book to editors.

“I’m not really nervous now,” Menon said. Still, she admitted she kept close tabs on the number of votes she received during the four-month contest.

The winner is being chosen by a panel of book publishing executives, including Mark Gompertz, executive vice president and publisher of Touchstone Fireside.

The Los Altos mother – who declined to give her age beyond saying she is “in her 30s” – wrote “Speechless” partly about her experiences in Silicon Valley while working in product marketing for a software company.

The novel, set in Silicon Valley between the dot-com bust and Sept. 11, 2001, tells the stories of three women who meet at a speakers club.

The three characters experience traumatic events: a tech product manager is laid off during the dot-com bust and another is connected to a serious crime, which the character writes about in her journal, only to be revealed after the terrorist attacks, the author said.

Nearly 60,000 Gather.com members were involved in the voting process, said Gompertz, who noted it bore similarities to market research that is conducted before a book is published.

In the traditional publishing model, a single book agent reads a book, and going on “gut instinct,” decides whether to recommend the book to an editor, Gompertz said. In the contest, the books gain a following of readers before they are published, he noted.

The contest was so successful, the New York publishing company intends to conduct another contest, Gompertz said.

E-mail Melanie Carroll at mcarroll@dailynewsgroup.com.