Friday, December 31, 2004

By Jove I believe I've done it

Happy New Year all

Bill

Man Legally Changes Name To 'They'

Man Legally Changes Name To 'They'
Associated Press

Thursday, September 23, 2004


BRANSON, Mo. -- A Branson man has put a face to the anonymous references people often make to "they" by changing his name to just that: "They."

The former Andrew Wilson, a 43-year-old self-employed inventor, was granted legal permission last week by a circuit judge to change his name.

It's just They, no surname.

He also has changed his driver's license to reflect his new name.

They said he did it for humor to address the common reference to "they."

"'They do this,' or 'They're to blame for that.' Who is this 'they' everyone talks about? 'They' accomplish such great things. Somebody had to take responsibility," he said.

Now, his friends are getting used to his new name.

"They call up and say, 'Is They there?'"

He acknowledged the name could drive grammarians crazy.

"Not only is he making a statement about his name, but he's messing with the entire English language," friend Craig Erickson said.

They holds 14 patents including Ground-Effect lighting, used to create a neon glow beneath vehicles and patented in 1987.

His newest product is "Shades Eyewear," which have a built-in visor over each sunglass lens. The visors protect the eyes from glare without having to wear a hat, he said.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Bucks County Writers Workshop

Bucks County Writers Workshop: "The Bucks County Writers Workshop

Stupid Names
You don't necessarily have to resort to the telephone book to come up with names for your characters. Here's a list of names I culled from junk mail over a two-day period. Feel free to use them. Obviously, the names are made up. Clearly, there is little relationship between the first names and the last.
Spammers, the lowest form on earth (next to certain elected politicians), manufacture names to hide their true identities. In no case did I ever open the spam. I merely copied the name of the 'sender' before trashing the 'mail.' There are actually sites to aid spammers in concocting phony names. One is: Funny Names. If anyone comes up with similar sites let me know -- and feel free to send me your own name lists for posting. But please, never, never read spam. Use a filter to direct it into a junk folder, which you can scan every couple of days to make sure nothing important was sent there by mistake. And above all, never open any attachment from someone you don't know. Spammers have no dignity, pride, or conscience -- and much spam is not merely annoying but criminal.



Alfonzo E. Jimenez
Alyce Burnett
Amabel Fhithrit
Angelica Medeiros
Annabel Dsmec
Arron Burch
Arturo Meadows
Audrey Arredondo
Augustus Ztfin
Autumn Cornell
Autumn Preston
Beacher Allmond
Belinda E. Pool
Bernardo Haskins
Brandon Spaulding
Bridget Hurst
Britney Gillespie
Brooks Kimberly
Carlo Warner
Chandra C. Amos
Chase Heath
Chester Swain
Christopher Mcintosh
Cierra Morse
Clarissa Caron
Clemente Cottle
Colby Bunch
Coleman Beasley
Constance Manning Curil Mims
Daniel Dgahceee
Deirdre Crum
Dusty S. Fox
Edwin Oaltuss
Elmo Shipley
Elnora Suniga
Eloy Irving
Emery Sridhbu
Emma Mcnair
Enrique Quintana
Ester Greene
Evangeline Foster
Evelina Bevis
Everette Farr
Ezra Herman
Freida Haynes
Gene Caron
Georgina Bentley
Georgina Lindsay
Gordon Champagne
Gretchen Fortaleza
Gus Steward
Helga Villegas
Hershel Gallegos
Homer Spadea
Hoover Maggie
Hubert Harrison
Hugo Divine
Isaiah Ygat
Ismael Sanchez
Jemima Fllo
Jen Trlypc
Jenny Uscapicm
Jessye Emmet
Josefina Calvert
Josiah Crum
Kelly Chan
Kenji Wilkerson
Kory Delaney
Lacy Hess
Lazaro Kemp
Leanne Rodrigues
Lenny Gagnon
Leslie Kurta
Lilian Dick
Lindset Drummond
Logan Ryan
Mamie Grayson
Marisol Stovall
Maryellen Tompkins
Melba Hickey
Melody Reid
Mia Morse
Missy Melvin
Miyoshi Pietro Ersilia
Mollie Duarte
Muriel Oonaba
Myron Sams
Nikki Darcy
Noelle Hackett
Osborn Lennox
Paddy Aljemal
Pasquale Louis
Phemie Kenton
Raul Delaney
Raul Roland
Reggie Tuttle
Reyes Schafer
Rickie Gabriel
Robin Ueneloa
Rodrigo Haney
Ronald Zer
Ronny Winkler
Rosamund Njans
Roscoe Strieker
Rosella Huerta
Roslyn Gunter
Sabrina Acosta
Salvatore Stokes
Sandy Burrah
Senja Seafire
Shawna Salazar
Sigourney Neyle
Slenderness M. Patton
Stacey Crowder
Staci Connell
Tad Keliiholokai
Terrell Hays
Theobald Omauj
Tom Ueikp
Tybalt Bezonbar
Utopia Gillis
Vilma Hamm
Virgie Warner
Wallace Pagan
Weston Horne
Wilda Beaver
Zachery Chu
Zane Carpenter

The Chronicle: 12/19/2003: Signifyin' at the MLA

Signifyin' at the MLA

By SCOTT McLEMEE

Each December, several thousand literature professors pry themselves away from the comforts of home and flock to the annual convention of the Modern Language Association, held during the final week of the calendar year. It is a winter tradition -- not as ancient as Hanukkah or Christmas, but older, at least, than Festivus.

Reporters from the local press attend, then publish articles that invariably cite two or three outrageous titles of scholarly papers presented at the meeting. Researchers believe that custom began in 1989, when Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick read her legendary (not to say seminal) paper "Jane Austen and the Masturbating Girl" -- a title mentioned in The New York Times and cited with horror by neoconservatives ever since. Indeed, some theorists maintain that those attending the conference now sometimes give their papers titles designed to win such notice (or at least to hook an audience).

Thus we are pleased to announce the winners of The Chronicle's First Annual Awards for Self-Consciously Provocative MLA Paper Titles (also known as the Provokies). All selections are cited as listed in the program for the 119th MLA Annual Convention, to be held this month in San Diego. (In other words, no paper titles were made up.)

***

The use of parentheses and slashes to create unpronounceable puns has fallen off considerably since the mid-1990s, when convention bylaws required every panel to include at least one paper referring to "the (m)other tongue," "hetero/textuality," or "derr(ier)(i/e)da." That tradition continues in a decidedly lackluster vein with this year's session on "Schopenhauer's Corps(e): The Body and the Canon."

Times are changing. And so the Award for Transgressive Punctuation honors Yvonne K. Atkinson of California State University at San Bernardino for the daring and innovative use of multiple apostrophes in her paper "If I'm Lyin' I'm Flyin' and I Ain't Seen a Bird All Day: Signifyin' Theories."

Honorable mention goes to the panel "'She Must Be Raggin'!': Children's Literature and Menstruation."

***

Criteria for the Andrew Ross Award for Dangerous Hipness incited heated debate among the judges.

Some held that the award should go to a title reflecting scholarship that keeps up with recent cable-television listings. They nominated the paper "Taking Away the Threat: Cribs and The Osbournes as Narratives of Domestication," by David S. Escoffery and Michelle Sullivan, of Southwest Missouri State University and the University of Pittsburgh's main campus, respectively.

Others contended that the winner should be "très 1990s," just like Mr. Ross's own bad self. They argued strenuously for "Judith Butler Got Me Tenure (but I Owe My Job to k.d. lang): High Theory, Pop Culture, and Some Thoughts About the Role of Literature in Contemporary Queer Studies," by Kim L. Emery of the University of Florida.

Following tense e-mail exchanges, the judges awarded the prize to Amy Abugo Ongiri of the University of California at Riverside for her paper "Jethro, Mama, Sassie Sue, and the Midnight Plowboy: Hillbillies, 'Common Sense,' Urbanity, and Blaxploitation Film" -- on the grounds that the title was so achingly hip that nobody had any idea what it meant.

***

No such dispute attended the Award for Best Slavoj Zizek Knockoff, which went by acclaim to "'Dude, Where's My Reliable Symbolic Order?': Gross-Out Comedies and the Rewriting of the Expressible," by Luther Riedel of Mohawk Valley Community College, in New York.

Likewise, the judges quickly reached consensus on Most Provocative Panel Title: "Apertures and Orifices in Chaucer." As luck would have it, Most Provocative Paper Title went to a presentation to be delivered during that same session: "'The Entree Was Long and Streit, and Gastly for to See': Visual and Verbal Penetration in the Knight's Tale," by Disa Gambera of the University of Utah.

Send ideas to short.subjects@chronicle.com


-----------------------------------------------------------------http://chronicle.com
Section: Short Subjects
Volume 50, Issue 17, Page A6



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Copyright © 2003 by The Chronicle of Higher Education


Tuesday, December 28, 2004

The Perfect Pitch by Zack Company Literary Agent

This PDF file is 3 pages. Please click on the above line to access this worthwhile article.

Lauren

Sunday, December 26, 2004

It Seemed Like a Scene From the Bible - Reporter Lives Through Tsunami

It Seemed Like a Scene From the Bible

By Michael Dobbs
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 27, 2004; Page A01

WELIGAMA, Sri Lanka, Dec. 26 -- Disaster struck with no warning out of a faultlessly clear blue sky.

I was taking my morning swim around the island that my brother Geoffrey, a businessman, had bought on a whim a decade ago and turned into a tropical paradise 200 yards from one of the world's most beautiful beaches.

I couldn't understand what the fuss was about. All seemed peaceful. There was barely a ripple in the sea. My brother's house rests on a rock 60 feet above the level of the sea.

Then I noticed that the water around me was rising, climbing up the rock walls of the island with astonishing speed. The vast circle of golden sand around Weligama Bay was disappearing rapidly, and the water had reached the level of the coastal road, fringed with palm trees.

As I swam to shore, my mind was momentarily befuddled by two conflicting impressions -- the idyllic blue sky and the rapidly rising waters.

In less than a minute, the water level had risen at least 15 feet, but the sea remained calm, with barely a wave in sight.

Within minutes, the beach and the area behind it had become an inland sea that rushed over the road and poured into the flimsy houses on the other side. The speed with which it all happened seemed like a scene from the Bible, a natural phenomenon unlike anything I had experienced.

As the waters rose at an incredible rate, I half expected to catch sight of Noah's Ark.

Instead of the ark, I grabbed a wooden catamaran that the local people used as a fishing boat. My brother jumped on the boat next to me. We bobbed up and down on the catamaran as the water rushed past us into the village beyond the road.

After a few minutes, the water stopped rising, and I felt it was safe to swim to the shore. What I did not realize was that the floodwaters would recede as quickly and dramatically as they had risen.

All of a sudden, I found myself being swept out to sea with startling speed. Although I am a fairly strong swimmer, I was unable to withstand the current. The fishing boats around me had been torn from their moorings, and were bobbing up and down furiously.

For the first time, I felt afraid, powerless to prevent myself from being washed out to sea.

I swam in the direction of a loose catamaran, grabbed the hull and pulled myself to safety. My weight must have slowed the boat down, and soon I was stranded on the sand.
As the water rushed out of the bay, I scrambled onto the main road. Screams were coming from the houses beyond the road, many of which were still half full of water that had trapped the inhabitants inside. Villagers were walking, stunned, along the road, unable to comprehend what had taken place.

I was worried about my wife, who was on the beach when I went for my swim. I eventually found her walking along the road, dazed but happy to be alive. She had been trying to wade back to our island when the water carried her across the road and into someone's back yard. At one point she was underwater, struggling for breath. She finally grabbed onto a rope and climbed into a tree, escaping the waters that raged beneath her.

Our children were still asleep when the tsunami struck at 9:15. They woke up to find the bay practically drained of water and their parents walking back across the narrow channel to safety.

The waves raged around the island for the rest of the day, alternately rising and receding.

It took us many hours to realize the scale of the disaster, because we could see only the tiny part in front of us. The road from Weligama to Galle was cut in many places. The coastal road was littered with carcasses of boats, dogs and even a few dead sharks. Helicopters flew overhead and loudspeaker vans warned residents to leave low-lying areas for fear of more tsunamis.

My brothers' little island, called Tapbrobane after the ancient name of Sri Lanka, was largely intact, although a piece of our gate ended up on the seashore half a mile away. The water rose about 20 feet toward the house.

We have no water and no electricity and are cut off from the rest of Sri Lanka. It is impossible to buy food. We are existing on cold ham and turkey sandwiches, leftovers from Christmas dinner.

The holiday that we planned and dreamed about for many months is in ruins. We feel fortunate -- fortunate to be alive.


Saturday, December 25, 2004

Reaserch on Cops in the U S

UESTION # 2: I am having problems getting any information on cops in
the US. I want to know what they wear, what they would carry for a
weapon and what would be their normal routine. Also how they would
handle a murder, can you help?

This question turned out to be relatively easy to answer as there is
a lot of information available on the internet. As the question did
not specify which area of the US the story is set, I have gathered
together a series of links that give general information, but also
allow further research by drilling down in the sites. Also, keep in
mind that policing is different from urban to rural settings so you
will have to do a lot of research, but the following web portals
should allow you to find what you need.

CopNet North America is a good place to start - http://www.copnet.org
as is Officer.com - http://www.officer.com, while you can also find
criminal justice information at Academic info -
http://www.academicinfo.net/crimjust.html.

The US government provides resources that can be tapped at
FirstGov.gov for Citizens: Public Safety and Law -
http://www.firstgov.gov/Citizen/Topics/PublicSafety.shtml and at
Public Safety and Emergency Management: State and Local Government
http://www.statelocalgov.net/50states-public-safety.htm. If you're
interested in the FBI, visit their site at http://www.fbi.gov/.

You should drop by RWA's Kiss of Death Chapter website - they include
a page of links for suspense and mystery writers -
http://www.rwamysterysuspense.org/links.htm#Specialty as well as a
list of their favorite reference books -
http://www.rwamysterysuspense.org/favoritebooks.html#non-fiction.
Then surf on to links provided by the American Crime Writers League -
http://www.acwl.org/links.htm.

Romantic Suspense author Laura Hayden has a good bibliography at her
site as well - http://suspense.net/buzz/writer-books-mystery.html

And don't forget Yahoo, which has a category devoted to law
enforcement – again you can drill down from this page
http://dir.yahoo.com/Society_and_Culture/Crime/Law_Enforcement/ for
more details.

Character Moods or Emotions

Character Moods or Emotions

Your character can be more than just "happy" or "sad." Check these lists for emotions that are stronger, more exact, or just plain more interesting than overused emotional tags. If you want to compare intensity of emotions, from high to mild, try this feelings table.

Happy: festive, contented, relaxed, calm, complacent, satisfied, serene, comfortable, peaceful, optimistic, joyous, ecstatic, enthusiastic, inspired, glad, pleased, grateful, cheerful, excited, optimistic, lighthearted, carefree, playful, elated, jubilant, thrilled

Sad: depressed, low, dismal, dreary, dull, moody, sulky, defeated, pessimistic, hopeless, melancholy, somber, despairing, miserable

Hurt: offended, upset, disappointed, heartbroken, crushed

Angry: annoyed, irritated, cross, frustrated, grumpy, angry, provoked, offended, indignant, hostile, irate, furious, fuming, enraged

Afraid: fearful, frightened, timid, cautious, concerned, apprehensive, alarmed, nervous, anxious, worried, hesitant, threatened, scared, petrified, terrified

Loving: accepting, understanding, sharing, affectionate, close, warm, tender, passionate

Interested: eager, enthusiastic, intrigued, absorbed, excited, inquisitive, intent, earnest, fascinated, engrossed

Confident: calm, secure, independent, brave, loyal, courageous, strong, respected, empowered

Doubtful: uncertain, hesitant, indecisive, wavering, insecure, skeptical, dubious, suspicious, distrustful

Shame: uncomfortable, embarrassed, humiliated, dependent, weak

Miscellaneous: puzzled, confused, torn, jealous, envious, distant, evasive, stubborn, impulsive, cruel, preoccupied, bored, powerless, helpless, humble, shocked, uninformed, disregarded

Physical Indicators of Strong Emotion: tense, breathless, nauseated, fatigue, shaky, cold or hot, fast heartbeat, headaches, lack of appetite


Character Feelings

Friday, December 17, 2004

Test

This is a test of the blogger emergency system.

Shawn

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

ZUG: Comedy Articles: How to Write a Trashy Romance Novel: Part The Last

How to Write a Trashy Romance Novel: Part The Last"


The Decked in Holly Priestess

12/03/2004 10:34 pm []


How to Write a Trashy Romance Novel: Part The Last
by Lady Scarlett Covington and Curtis, Duke of Malone

Welcome once more to the The Covington-Malone 9 Step Guide To Romance Novelling! In Part One and Part Two we covered everything from how to choose a sexy front cover for your novel, to how to make sure it’s filled with enough rampant sluttery to live up to that cover. In this, the third and final installment, we’ll deal with plot twists, sequels, and cliffhanger endings; everything you need to make sure your sad horny readers are hooked and keep “coming” back for more.

Step 7: Backstabbing and Other Plot Twists
(or dunn dunn dunn…)

Of course after the main characters have had their first hot, steamy, explosive, sweat drenched, passionate, nerve-wracking, multiple hour, multiple orgasm, fulfilling, sating, out-of-focus romping session, they cannot help but want more*. But obstacles always must stand in the way, or the novel would only be 6 pages long. And that brings us to step 7: Backstabbing and Other Plot Twists (dunn dunn dunn…).

The woman must always be unsure if the man really loves her, or if it is just lust (or being “driven by the priapic madness that consumes his every waking hour”, in trade jargon). She must also have at least one other suitor that she doesn’t truly love, but that the man perceives as a threat. Dueling or exile to Australia may or may not ensue.

Her home life and origins should also provide some sort of unexpected obstacle for the two lovers to overcome. The revelation of an ailing grandparent, a beloved but tyrannical father, a wastrel brother, a slatternly mother, or even an evil identical twin** can all provide fertile ground for twists and turns. Why, the “flashback to a deathbed promise” alone can fill an entire chapter if you start to run dry!

The man of course, must have internal demons of his own. Perhaps he was beaten as a child, or bears terrible scars that nonetheless do not detract from his rugged handsomeness, or was abandoned in the woods as an infant to be raised by feral goats. He could have an insane ex-wife he keeps locked in an attic***, or a terrible tragedy that torments his dreams, or a lost love that haunts him still. Possibly literally. It also never hurts if the heroine bears an eerie resemblance to a woman from the heroes’ tortured past. In a good romance novel, you just can’t go wrong with the classics.

You might be wondering where Backstabbing comes in to all of this. Very simple; the antagonist(s) in the story, who would tear the lovers apart, somehow always know their weakness or their scandalous background. Whether they be family members or former lovers who have already been carefully introduced, or shadowy figures of mystery that you just throw in because the action is starting to lag, they always threaten one of the lovers with ruin if their evil demands are not met. Blackmail, of monetary, social and matrimonial sorts, inevitably follows until the final climactic confrontation where the villain is vanquished by the pure hearts and courage of the hero and heroine combined.

Remember, in a romance novel plot any twist is possible, but they can always be overcome by the power of true sex.

Love! We mean love!

Step 8: Sequels and Series

So you’ve written a complete trashy romance novel, and the general public has received it with wild enthusiasm. The critics hate it of course, but what do they know, most of them liked “Amelie” better than the similar but superior “Alien vs Predator”. What’s your next step? Get started on a fresh, exciting new idea for your next book?

What are you, stupid?

Sequels and series are where the big money is, so you always have to keep one eye on them when you write your endings. A happy ending is fine – as long as it isn’t too happy. The hero and heroine, romped into exhaustion, set sail on a merchant clipper for home – but wait, what’s that black sail on the horizon? At last the estate is saved from the brink of ruin – but now, who is in the mysterious black coach approaching the gate? The heroine has at last delivered of a healthy son to her proud husband – but lo, who is the mysterious man in black who lurks beneath the windowsill, looking in through the rain streaked glass? ****

Three words: “milk it, girlfriend.”

With care and careful management, the same characters, settings, story and dialogue can serve you in good stead for decades to come. Hell, Barbara Cartland, Anne Rice and Danielle Steele have all been writing the same book for the last 30 years and no-ones called them on it yet. And whom do you think they learned that from?

Uh huh.

Step 9: The Cliffhanger Ending

And so at last loyal reader, we come to the final step of The Covington-Malone 9 Step Guide To Romance Novelling. The most important step, truth be told, because as any writer knows “Beginnings are hard, but endings are murder!” You’ve poured your heart and soul into the torrid masterpiece that is your very own romance novel, so the last thing you want is a weak gimmicky ending. You need a big finish. And that’s why we spell out, in one easy to follow sentence, how to end your novel with the kind of killer climax that your main characters experienced as far back as Chapter 7*****.

First, you have to imagine the





LOOK OUT! HE’S GOT A GUN! AND MY BABY!!




Lady “High Priestess” Covington and Duke “DemoMonkey” Malone’s next book, “Passions Manacles”, will be in finer convenience stores, bus stations and airports in the spring of 2005. It has a very shiny cover.





Footnotes

* I mean if any person in their right mind had sex like the above why wouldn’t they want more? My god, I want more and I’m just a footnote!
** SPRING-ER, SPRING-ER, SPRING-ER!
*** Who doesn’t, really.
**** Black is always bad in romance novels. It’s just an aesthetic thing; no violation of civil liberties is intended. Please no more lawsuits.
***** Also Chapter 8, Chapter 10, Chapters 11 through 13, twice in Chapter 14, and we’re pretty sure they tossed one off in the dedications page when no-one was looking.






How to Write a Trashy Romance Novel: Part The Last
by Lady Scarlett Covington and Curtis, Duke of Malone

Welcome once more to the The Covington-Malone 9 Step Guide To Romance Novelling! In Part One and Part Two we covered everything from how to choose a sexy front cover for your novel, to how to make sure it�s filled with enough rampant sluttery to live up to that cover. In this, the third and final installment, we�ll deal with plot twists, sequels, and cliffhanger endings; everything you need to make sure your sad horny readers are hooked and keep �coming� back for more.

Step 7: Backstabbing and Other Plot Twists
(or dunn dunn dunn�)

Of course after the main characters have had their first hot, steamy, explosive, sweat drenched, passionate, nerve-wracking, multiple hour, multiple orgasm, fulfilling, sating, out-of-focus romping session, they cannot help but want more*. But obstacles always must stand in the way, or the novel would only be 6 pages long. And that brings us to step 7: Backstabbing and Other Plot Twists (dunn dunn dunn�).

The woman must always be unsure if the man really loves her, or if it is just lust (or being �driven by the priapic madness that consumes his every waking hour�, in trade jargon). She must also have at least one other suitor that she doesn�t truly love, but that the man perceives as a threat. Dueling or exile to Australia may or may not ensue.

Her home life and origins should also provide some sort of unexpected obstacle for the two lovers to overcome"

Saturday, December 11, 2004

A Literary Sharecropper: The perilous life of a novelist

What is your take on this article? I felt the writer was not very savvy about the writing industry. By the way, I posted this via a blogger link on my Google task bar.
-----------

A Literary Sharecropper
The perilous life of a novelist
by Jervey Tervalon


(Illustration by Ryan Ward)





For some optimistic types, race is a tedious notion that doesn’t speak to this new meritocracy we have here in our colorblind country. It would be pleasant to think that those of us who swim on the left side of the stream wouldn’t be guilty of highhandedness or racial insensitivity or plain old racism until you run smack into a wall of race.

I remember the daughter of a former poet laureate suggesting that the enthusiasm folks had for my first novel was probably because I was black. Damn. If only I’d known that from the get-go, that there was this free-floating love for me out there in the world because I am a black man. You’d think by now I’d be on a tenure track at some open-minded but guilt-ridden liberal arts college. Race matters, but in subtle ways that don’t spit in your face like Russian skinheads sharing love with their darker-skinned countrymen on the subways.

See, I’ve come to expect the affirmative action of driving while black or brown. I remember trying to give away my stories to literary magazines back in the day, and couldn’t. It bothered me, though it didn’t matter: Who the hell reads literary magazines except for the people who want to be in them? Still, I wanted to be published in those backed-by-trust-fund rags. All I got was frustrated. Then it occurred to me: These folks don’t want to publish stories about kids growing up in the hood, they wanted to publish stories about dysfunctional kids in the suburbs.

But when Terry McMillan rolled onto the scene and sold a shitload of books, even high-culture mavens and mongers at those unbearably white publishing houses had to bust out and find them some black folks who liked to scribble between the lines. That was me. Sold my first novel in the huge shadow of Terry McMillan’s sales, and for that I’m forever grateful, because nothing focuses the attention of the corporate mind like naked profit.

There are many pitfalls in a literary career, including convincing folks you have one. Writers, like Pavlov’s dogs, actually do learn, and after jettisoning all that romantic baggage that books are about what’s between the pages, they see with clear eyes the genius of the marketplace. The book business has never been more about moving units, though hawking novels, even the big ones, can be much harder than selling wet dog turds. A friend of mine recently complained that his latest book sold a little more than 3,000 copies after getting good exposure, including a priceless CNN piece, and great reviews. I feel for him, though he received a respectable advance for the book and I’m sure it’ll do better in paperback. If I were him, I’d chalk it up to bad luck, and get to steppin’, though I’m sure he was hoping to leverage his book’s sales success into another deal. Hope springs eternal.

But for some of us hope is the thing that gets stuck to the bottom of your shoe like a bad book deal. I’m a living example of how the writing life goes wrong as evidenced by my own recent publishing misadventure.

See, the life of a novelist is a perilous one, the chance of being published is slight and receiving an advance is even more remote. You’d think that maybe after you’d sold a few books things might get easier, but let me tell you, writing, like pimping, ain’t easy. My advice to those who want to write the Great American Novel? Keep the overhead low. Forget about that iMac with the 22-inch monitor; soon enough you’ll regret it, no matter how much you imagine it will improve your productivity. My mistake is that I wanted continuity, consistent money coming in, because I have two little dividends and I can’t let my wife do all the supporting. I wanted a multiple book deal, and damn, my agent went and got me one. I cashed the checks, spent the money, paid the taxes and got to writing, because if you want to get paid for writing, you actually have to write.

When you do the writing and develop some skills and ambitions, that’s when it gets interesting. You learn that the rigors of the market are all important — another immutable law of the universe, more real than a noble gas law or the laws of thermodynamics. So when my first editor, an African-American woman, told me it would be impossible to get my book through the publisher’s acquistions committee unless I changed the white, upper-class love interest of my black protagonist to something, anything else, I complied. "How about a Sade-like biracial adoptee from Nigeria," I asked. "Fine," she said.

I got a little nervous, though, when the publicist at my publisher, Atria, had to quit over an outbreak of boils or something that sounded equally biblical. He hadn’t been doing much to promote my previous book anyway, but it was a bad sign. Almost as bad as meeting Atria’s publisher, Judith Curr, an Australian woman who didn’t seem to know that Latinos in California speak English as well as Australians or maybe even better. I sensed I wouldn’t be receiving the royal treatment from Atria — no book tour, no post cards, not much of anything. After finishing the first of the two books, Lita, I assumed they’d send it around, you know, for reviews. But they couldn’t bring themselves to do even that. When I asked my new editor, Malaika Adero (my old editor, Tracy Sherrod, left to become an agent), if I should hire an outside publicist, she said yes. I truly had become an orphaned writer.

I’m a big boy, I could handle what was coming: They didn’t want to publish another word of mine. I was cool with that, I’d expected nothing but cold-blooded business. Still, I was under contract to produce another book. I explained to my editor what I wanted to write in advance — a novel about a personal chef for a weirdo super celebrity, in lieu of the novel I’d proposed long ago in a single paragraph. She agreed. I wrote that book. But when I sent the manuscript, Serving Monster, to my editor, she informed me that, unbeknownst to me, I had violated my contract — that it was late and it wasn’t the book they’d wanted anyway. I knew then that I was going to get gotted. That this big-ass publishing house was going to come down on me.

Sure enough, Atria, subsidiary of that monster conglomerate Viacom, asked me to pay back the $41,000 they advanced me. I had to sit back, catch my breath and get my mind around the demand. The book was late, but not unreasonably late, especially given that Atria took longer than expected to get my first book out and, in changing editors, put me though a period when I had no editor to work with. I’d gotten approval to write the book I wanted. I even tried to write the novel they wanted — 60 hasty pages to a sequel of one of my earlier books. But in the age of low-rent porn for churchgoing ladies, I couldn’t keep up with sex-wild Zane (also published by Atria) or any of her dick-riding sorority sisters. Both novels were rejected.

Then some woman who sounded about as threatening as a Vassar coed called me on my cell and tried to put the fear of God into me. I was being threatened and dunned as though I had run up a huge credit card debt that I’d refused to make good on.

I informed this woman that I was receiving unemployment and wasn’t in a position to repay the advance. I argued that her demand was ridiculous and that I had permission from my editor to write "what I felt." It didn’t matter. If I didn’t pay, she said, they’d sue me. Finally, I was offered a compromise: Pay Atria a thousand dollars every six months for the next 10 years, and they’d go away.

I don’t want to be sued by a conglomerate, and I can’t say I’m not tempted to pay my biannual tribute to stay out of court. But then again, it’s hard not to look at myself as some bedraggled peasant who was given some seeds and bad land to hoe in perpetuity. Yes, one day when I’m deep into senior citizenness, I’ll be through with my book deal, and if good ol’ master is kind to me, I’ll be emancipated and free to work for myself. I’ll no longer be literary sharecropping, singing spirituals in the cotton-picking fields.


Tervalon is the author of several novels, including Lita, Understand This and All the Trouble You Need. His novel Serving Monster has yet to find a publisher.



Friday, December 10, 2004

Hello

Hi Lauren,
It's the ghost
Bill



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Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Welcome New Bloggers

I wanted to say hello to all recent members. In order to post or reply to a message on the board, you need to sign in first. Then add bookmark to your toolbar. In the future, all you will have to do if click on the bookmark.

Any questions, just holler. Keeping the caps lock on is perfectly acceptable.

Lauren

Monday, December 06, 2004

I made it!

Somehow, the things I needed to be able to see showed up this time and I was finally able to make it here, registered 'n all. Whew! I don't like things electronic, and they know it. I'm convinced of that.

Submission Discusions

This thread is for discussion of submissions. Questions, problems, the joy the hair pulling situations, anything we need to discuss.