Sunday, February 27, 2005

Guardian Unlimited Books | Special Reports | Inside publishing

Who decides which books get published? Why do some authors earn millions and others peanuts? Link to Guardian Unlimited Books / Special Reports / Inside Publishing.

The Virtual Book Tour

Link to The Virtual Book Tour.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Making Light: Atlanta Nights and PublishAmerica

January 28, 2005
Atlanta Nights and PublishAmerica

The article prints an excerpt from the published novel, "Atlanta Nights," a collaberation of many top science fiction authors. Their purpose: to expose the unorthodox business dealings of Publish America. The authors never dreamed that their badly written novel would be received so well, as it is hilarious. I've ordered the book myself by clicking on the link provided in the article. Don't worry. The link to the bookseller is not Publish America's website but that of a respected on line book selling service.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Writers Desktop Book Publishing and Book Marketing Reference Guide

A lot of interesting writing links.

Writer Beware--Index Page

Current Alerts
The great PublishAmerica hoax.

Authors published by Creative Arts Book Company, please see this alert.

Clients or former clients of Kelly O'Donnell Literary Agency, O'Donnell Literary Services, Writers Information USAgency, and/or Press-Tige Publishing, please see this alert.

Clients of Melanie Mills/M.W. Mills Literary Agent, please see this alert.

Clients or former clients of Helping Hand Literary Service, a.k.a. Janet Kay & Associates (George Harrison Titsworth, Janet Kay Titsworth), please see this alert.

Authors published by Oak Tree Press and clients or former clients of Johnson-Warren Literary Agency, please see this alert.

Authors published by American Book Publishing, please see this alert.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005 - Vampire author Rice gives lift to pastor's 'Descent'

Vampire author Rice gives lift to pastor's 'Descent'

By Carol Memmott, USA TODAY

She is a best-selling author known for novels about vampires. He is a minister who says he has seen and talked with angels. Anne Rice and Howard Storm have never met, yet they are working together to promote Storm's book, My Descent Into Death: A Second Chance at Life (Doubleday, $14.95).

Anne Rice sees nothing strange about her collaboration with Howard Storm: 'Vampires and angels are very similar,' she says.

Rice sees nothing strange about their collaboration. 'Vampires and angels are very similar,' she says. 'My discussion of vampires has always presented them as sort of the elegant inverse of angels.'

Rice says she, like Storm, was a 'fashionable atheist' for many years. She re-embraced her Roman Catholic faith in 1998. He got religion after excruciating stomach pain landed him in a Paris hospital for emergency surgery in 1985.

While in the hospital, Storm says, he had a near-death experience that didn't fit the stereotypical version — the one in which people experience a bright light and the presence of love. Instead, Storm says he was viciously attacked by creatures he sensed were once human. During those attacks, he says, he heard a voice telling him to pray. Storm knew no prayers but began murmuring lines from the 23rd Psalm, the Pledge of Allegiance and The Star-Spangled Banner. Then, he says, he was in the presence of Jesus and angels.

Through his ministry in Cincinnati, TV appearances and speaking engagements, Storm shares his experience with skeptics and believers. He also wrote a book. A British publisher printed a limited number of My Descent Into Death, not readily available in the USA. (Related excerpt: Read a preview of My Descent Into Death)

Rice read Descent, saw Storm on TV and, when he asked for help in finding an American publisher, she obliged — and even wrote the foreword for the new edition, now in bookstores. The process moved quickly, she says, "as though angels were kicking open doors. ... I'll do anything to help get his book to the public, because he has something important to give people."

And about those skeptics? Storm encounters his share. "I'm called 'new agey' by the Christians, and the non-Christians call me a Christian fanatic." He puts up with the abuse, he says, because "like the Blues Brothers, I feel like I'm on a mission from God."

Rice and Storm keep in touch by e-mail but have never spoken or met. But they will appear together on NBC's Today in New York on March 15.

"People say 'What are you doing with Anne Rice? She's a vampire person, and you're a Jesus guy,' " Storm says.

"I tell them Anne and I are on the same wavelength."

WHC 2005 Dark Fiction Contest

WHC 2005 Dark Fiction Contest
Please note: You must be a registered member of WHC 2005 to participate in this contest.

Cemetery Dance Publications and Flesh and Blood Press are proud to sponsor the 2005 Word Horror Convention Dark Fiction Contest. This contest is open to all contributing and supporting members of the 2005 World Horror Convention. Stories may contain elements of science fiction or fantasy, but must contain a strong element of the dark or horrific.

First place winner will be also be published in a future issue of either Cemetery Dance or Flesh & Blood, to be determined by the editors of those magazines. Winners will be announced and payment/prize winnings will be handed out during the World Horror Convention weekend.

WHC2005 members may submit one story in the following category:

Short Fiction: Stories up to 7500 words.
o First Prize: $500 and 3 contributor copies
o Second Prize: $350
o Third Prize: $150

Richard Chizmar, Senior Editor and Publisher of Cemetery Dance Publications, and Jack Fisher, Editor-in-chief and Publisher of Flesh & Blood Magazine.

All stories must be original works of fiction, not submitted to any other contest or publication. Only one entry per person will be accepted and it must be the creation of that person in whose name it is submitted. Should work be discovered as a copy or contain plagiarized material, applicant/writer and his work will be disqualified.

Stories that have been published previously are not eligible. Reprints (regardless of how obscure the source), stories published in electronic markets or on the web in any form, fan fiction, or stories based on gaming systems are not eligible.

One entry per person.

Decision of the judges is final.

The author’s name should not appear beyond the cover sheet. The story title should appear on all pages of the manuscript. The contest is run on a blind review and judges do not see the entrant's name until winners are chosen.

A cover page must be attached to the story, including the story name, the name and address of the author, telephone number, approximate word count and e-mail address if applicable. Do not put your name on manuscript pages. Include your Membership ID number or Paypal confirmation number on the cover page.

All entries must be typed and double-spaced on one side of 8 1/2" x 11" paper.

Manuscripts will not be returned.

Professional writers (those who make at least half of their income writing fiction) and teachers of creative writing at the college level are not eligible to enter. World Horror Convention Committee members (as listed on the website), and employees of Cemetery Dance Publications are not eligible to enter.

The Sponsors will retain the non-exclusive right to publish the winning entry in either Cemetery Dance magazine or Flesh & Blood magazine.

Winners will be announced during the World Horror Convention’s Opening Ceremonies on Thursday, April 7, 2005.

The Sponsors are not responsible for late, stolen, incomplete, illegible or misdirected mail or submissions.

Any entry that does not conform to these rules will not be entered into the contest.

How to submit:

Stories will be accepted by regular mail only. Send one copy, with the envelope clearly marked as WHC Contest Entry, to both:

Cemetery Dance
Richard Chizmar
P.O. Box 623
Forest Hill, MD 21050

Flesh & Blood Press
Jack Fisher
121 Joseph Street
Bayville, NJ 08721

Deadline: Entries must be received by March 21, 2005.

Questions? Contact the WHC at

Monday, February 21, 2005

Mystery Writers

Mystery Writers' Resources

Agents | Copyrights& Legal | Organizations | Resources | Publishers

E-Publishers | Review Sites for Mysteries

Forensics | Law | Guns | Poisons | Police | Mafia | Misc. Security

Maud Newton: Blog

Hans Christian Andersen: storyteller, hypochondriac, bad houseguest

This year marks the 200th anniversary of Hans Christian Andersen's birth. The writer of 'The Little Mermaid' has inspired countless writers, including A.S. Byatt, who says Andersen 'turned her into a writer.'

Now the Age has published an article about the man behind the stories:

A hypochondriac and super-sensitive, he was so terrified of being buried alive that on his travels through Europe, he slept with a note -- 'I only seem dead' -- by his side. He was snobbish, insecure and self-obsessed, never able to judge his impression on others.
When his fame was at its height, he turned up, unannounced, at the home of the Brothers Grimm -- and was met by Jakob with blank incomprehension. Invited for a holiday with Charles Dickens, previously one of his admirers, he so outstayed his welcome that Dickens put up a note which remarked unkindly that 'Hans Andersen slept in this room for five weeks -- which seemed to the family AGES!' Dickens never communicated with him again.
Posted by Maud at Mon, AM

Friday, February 18, 2005


Mystery-Related Sites

Research Sites

New York City Sites

Query Letters I Love

Annonymous website.

Guardian Unlimited Books | Special Reports | Read 'em and weep

A very entertaining article about what it is like to be a judge in a writing contest. The above link will take you to the article posted at Guardian Books.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Contests for Writers

There are a lot of good contests listed on this page. - Woman, 79, charged with attacking police with cane - Feb 16, 2005

Wednesday, February 16, 2005 Posted: 7:58 AM EST (1258 GMT)

SOUTH BEND, Indiana (AP) -- A 79-year-old woman has been charged with using her wooden cane to strike police officers who arrived at her home to check on her welfare.

St. Joseph County prosecutors said the officers came to investigate a possible domestic abuse charge against Betty Chambers' live-in caretaker, Thomas Holleman, 57.

As the officers tried to handcuff Holleman, Chambers allegedly struck Officer Lonny Foresman over the head with her cane, prosecutors said.

Foresman suffered a mild concussion while Sgt. John Pavlekovich suffered a separated shoulder and hand injury, said Jaimee Thirion, a spokeswoman for St. Joseph County police.

Prosecutors charged Chambers and Holleman on Tuesday with resisting law enforcement and battery.

"This is a serious concern because police are there to protect all of us," said St. Joseph County Prosecutor Michael Dvorak.

A phone number listed under Chambers' name at her address had been disconnected.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Mark Twain's Rules of Writing (idea)

Mark Twain's Rules of Writing (idea)
A tale shall accomplish something and arrive somewhere.

The episodes of a tale shall be necessary parts of the tale, and shall help develop it.

The personages in a tale shall be alive, except in the case of corpses, and that always the reader shall be able to tell the corpses from the others.

The personages in a tale, both dead and alive, shall exhibit a sufficient excuse for being there.

When the personages of a tale deal in conversation, the talk shall sound like human talk, and be talk such as human beings would be likely to talk in the given circumstances, and have a discoverable meaning, also a discoverable purpose, and a show of relevancy, and remain in the neighborhood of the subject in hand, and be interesting to the reader, and help out the tale, and stop when the people cannot think of anything more to say.

When the author describes the character of a personage in his tale, the conduct and conversation of that personage shall justify said description.

When a personage talks like an illustrated, gilt-edged, tree-calf, hand-tooled, seven-dollar Friendship's Offering in the beginning of a paragraph, he shall not talk like a Negro minstrel at the end of it.

Crass stupidities shall not be played upon the reader by either the author or the people in the tale.

Events shall be believable; the personages of a tale shall confine themselves to possibilities and let miracles alone; or, if they venture a miracle, the author must so plausably set it forth as to make it look possible and reasonable.

The author shall make the reader feel a deep interest in the personages of his tale and their fate; and that he shall make the reader love the good people in the tale and hate the bad ones.

The characters in tale be so clearly defined that the reader can tell beforehand what each will do in a given emergency.

In addition to these large rules, there are some little ones. These require that the author shall:

Say what he is proposing to say, not merely come near it.

Use the right word, not its second cousin.

Eschew surplusage.

Not omit necessary details.

Avoid slovenliness of form.

Use good grammar.

Employ a simple, straightforward style.

Talented Authors, Nearly 1,500 Links, 1,000's of Free Books...and More!

Nearly 1,500 Links, 1,000's of Free Books...and More!

Decent links page. I recommend checking it out.


Saturday, February 12, 2005

Editor's Role for content editor, copyeditor, author relationship

Editor's Role

The Editing Process—Why Every Manuscript Needs One

In the process of writing a book-length manuscript you go through so many stages and drafts that once you've proofread your "final draft" you might think that all the really hard work is done. Unbelievably there is still much more to do. It's called editing.

Writing and editing are two very different writing processes that use different parts of the brain. Editing is the bridge a text must cross before it can graduate into a professional document, and entails a far more extensive process than many people realize. In book publishing there are four major editors, two that extensively work on improving the content and tone of the manuscript.

The acquisition editor sometimes works with the author to decide and develop the broader themes of a manuscript, although the acquisition editor's primary job is to analyze the book market and find and sign authors.

The content editor (also called the developmental editor) works extensively with the author to ensure clear development and expression of the whole manuscript. The content editor then hands the manuscript over to the production editor.

The production editor schedules and manages the entire production process, which includes preparing the manuscript for typesetting, finding a printer, and hiring and supervising workers, including the fourth editor, the copyeditor.

The copyeditor (line editor) goes through the manuscript line by line to check for proper word usage, consistent style and tone, correct grammar and punctuation, and correct cross-references. The copyeditor creates parallel structure within the text, changes the passive voice to active, eliminates wordiness and jargon, and smoothes out sentence and paragraph transitions to improve readability. Copyeditors are the last line of defense against sloppy writing.

These four editors are responsible for moving a book from raw manuscript to bound book. But it is the content editor and copyeditor who substantially improve the actual text and bring the best out of any manuscript. Most manuscripts NEED these two professional editors.

No one, even the seasoned author, should publish his or her material without these two editors. At a minimum, have a professional copyeditor go through your manuscript. This is imperative if you are self-publishing. Proofreading is NOT copyediting, and will seldom bring the best out of your manuscript. Read on to see what a content editor can do for your manuscript, or jump to the 5 Reader Turnoffs. For a career profile on editors, go to

What a Content Editor Does

In a publishing house a content editor (also developmental editor) is the only person an author works closely with to substantively improve the manuscript. He or she is the author's creative collaborator and best friend, partnering with an author to write, develop, and prepare a manuscript for production. (The collaboration can also include consultation to plan the organization and features of the work before most of the writing begins.) The content editor is also the leading advocate of the manuscript within the publishing house and champions the author's interests and vision. This is especially important when the content editor is working with a book team to brainstorm the title and book cover design, and altering and/or adding content to meet the recommendations of marketing, sales, and reviewers. So it is not unusual for the author-content editor relationship to last several months and involve a slew of e-mails and communications.

Over this period of time the content editor evaluates the manuscript to determine whether the material is organized in the best possible way and challenging the author on cloudy explanations, vague assumptions, faulty logic, errors of fact, inconsistencies in information or points of view, and sloppy examples and analogies. The content editor will also suggest or provide clearer explanations, anecdotes, analogies, or illustrations and will make sure the manuscript is true to its outline and that everything, from front matter to back matter, is in order. He or she will add or delete headings, identify gaps in content, either writing or describing the needed text so the author can provide it. The content editor also rewrites and restructures the text to fit the format, deletes outdated content, or content that does not adhere to the desired theme, tone, or marketing focus. Often the content editor is responsible for selecting, creating, and placing figures and tables. The content editor also provides the marketing/publicity department with a copy of the manuscript, called a review copy, (often before it's copyedited), as well as biographical updates. Finally, the content editor prepares the manuscript for the managing editor (or production editor) who then assigns a copyeditor and then works with the copyeditor, answering all copyedit queries.

Although content editors organize, cut, rewrite, clarify, format, stylize, and can write as much as edit, their main focus is on clarifying ambiguities, correcting conceptual problems, and maintaining the tone of the manuscript, ensuring that it's addressed to the particular audience the author and publishing house envisioned it for.

Tantalizing Titles--Noteworthy Names

Tantalizing Titles--Noteworthy Names

Finding the Right Title

Studies show that a book has approximately four seconds to make a good impression on a customer. The title and the cover are particularly important. In most cases, the cover of the book is the publisher's responsibility, but the writer is responsible for the title. A good title will entice readers and make them want to buy your book. For this reason, you want to choose one with care.

Devising a working title

Don't worry about giving your manuscript a final title until you've completed the writing process. Often authors change focus or direction as they write. But in the meantime, you need a working, or temporary, title for your story. This can be almost anything. Many famous authors have used working titles. Bugles Sang True was the working title for the book that eventually became Gone With The Wind.

So if you don't immediately have a burst of brilliance, don't be concerned. Keep writing. You may find that a character, object, or another element of your story will provide the inspiration for a permanent title.

Selecting a final title

Your permanent title will set the mood and even suggest the age of the child for which the story is intended. A good title can be humourous, outrageous, entertaining, or scary. Here are some techniques to help you select a good title for your story or book:

1. Think of a central object that suggests the mood, atmosphere, or plot of your book (The Sword in the Stone, The Magic Paintbrush ).

2. Give a brief, compelling description of your character (Horrible Hannah, Tuck Everlasting).

3. Does your main character have an intriguing name? If so, use it in your title (Cinder Edna, Meet Strawberry Shortcake).

4. Ask a question (Why Did The Underwear Cross The Road? What Shall We Do With The Boo-Hoo Baby?)

5. Pay attention to the sound of your title (Willie Whyner Cloud Designer, Jazz Pizzazz).

6. Combine opposites (My Cat Is Going To The Dogs, The Eclipse of Moonbeam Dawson)

7. Use puns (Bantam Of The Opera, Witch Way To The Beach)

8. Create new words (Bearobics, Dinosaurumpus)

9. Startle or surprise (Beware Of Kissing Lizard Lips, "Hello," I Lied)

10. Inspire with curiosity (The Thief Of Always, How I Survived Being A Girl)

11. Create a particular mood (Danger On Midnight River, Sleepy Me)

Spotting the characteristics of a good title

A clever title is great, but a clear title is better. Some titles are clever and clear at the same time, but if you must choose between the two–go for clarity.

A short title is usually better than a long title. My book Brown Cow, Green Grass, Yellow Mellow Sun is a mouthful for preschoolers. Many younger children refer to it as "the cow book."


Even before you’ve completely defined your characters, you may want to give them names. It can be fun--or frustrating–to find just the right name. You want your names to be suitable and appropriate. But in addition, you may want some names to suggest personal characteristics or hint at the character’s situation. A writer can also use a name to influence readers’ opinions or feelings about a character. For instance, a dog named Goliath will have a different personality than one named Fluffy.

Picking the perfect name

The names you select for your characters reflect your own individual taste, but here are some points to consider when choosing them:

Names usually are appropriate to the time period of a story. Some names such as Peter and Rachel have been around since Biblical times, but others such as Hailee and Dyan have only recently become popular.

Various ethnic groups have different name preferences. If you name your character Luis, Astrid, or Chen, your reader may make assumptions about that character’s ethnic background. You may want to choose a traditional name if you are telling a traditional story.

Names have power. The names you give can bring personality and particularity, depth or humor to your characters. Names can suggest qualities your characters possess (Scout, Felicity, Joy, Buddy). Or they can be ironic (Baby Cakes for a ferocious bull).

Names have meanings. Amanda means "worthy to be loved" and Irene means "peace." While your readers probably won’t know the origin of your characters’ names, experienced writers often choose names with an underlying meaning in mind.

Names have connotations or associations. When a group of teachers was asked to grade a stack of bogus student essays, they consistently gave the highest grades to papers written by boys with common, popular names such as David and Michael and the lowest grades to boys with unusual names. Some names are more formal than other names. Bradford and Chadwick get a different response than Brad and Chad.

The sound of the name is important. Here are the names of three characters in children’s books: Ebenezer Scrooge, Sludge, and Petunia Periwinkle. Note how the sounds in these names evoke an impression of each character. Choose last names that go well with the first names.

Avoid names that distract the reader. If a name is too contrived, it calls attention to itself. The best names provide a subtle commentary but don’t distract from the story. Naming a character Obedience Gooddaughter may be overkill. Angela Goodman is better.

Select a name that suggests the age of a character. Girls born fifty years ago were given names such as Linda, Marcia, and Donna. Popular boys’ names were Robert, David, and William. Give your characters names that match the decade in which they were born.

Don’t confuse your reader with names that are too much alike. If you’ve named one character Carol, don’t name another character Caroline. Avoid too many names starting with the same letter of the alphabet. A story featuring Dan, Don, and Dean will probably require a flow chart to help the reader keep track of them.

Choosing names for secondary characters

Name your secondary characters with as much care as your main characters. These include pets, parents, friends, teachers, or other people with less of a role in the story. Because these characters are not as important, their names often assume even greater significance as a source of information about them. For example, readers can easily loathe a bully named Max Wormwood or smile at an obsessive gardener named Calista Crabgrass.

While humorous names are appropriate if the tone of your story is lighthearted, the same names won’t work if you’re writing a serious, young adult novel. Then you would probably choose names that are more conventional. The rule (as always) is--don’t overdo it.

Naming pets presents a special challenge. Do you want a name with attitude such as Caesar, Snapper, or Napoleon? Do you want the name to suggest a physical feature? Peanut or Ant would work for a small dog (or a really huge dog). If you’re describing a white cat, you might name it Snowball or Alaska. Think of the main characteristics of the pet and find a name that fits the animal and works with the atmosphere of your story.

What if you’re writing a story for young children in which all the characters are animals? If so, you may be tempted to give your characters alliterative names such as Tommy Turtle and Wanda Wolf. Try not to do this. Editors frown on animal alliteration, which inexperienced authors have used too frequently. This device is now considered a cliche.

You may also need to provide place names, especially if you’re writing a book set in an unfamiliar locale, a science fiction story, or a fantasy adventure. If you’re writing a novel about a family in South Africa, it helps to consult a map, an almanac, or an encyclopedia. If you’re creating a fantasy world, find names with undertones that suggest the place being described. The land of Aurora sounds like a great place to visit, but who would want to be stuck in a place named Bellum Infinitis (Infinite War).

Finding sources for names

If you can’t find the right name for one or more of your characters, don’t despair. Help is available. The following are all good sources for names:

The phone book. Good for finding unusual or common surnames.

Online lists of names. Many web sites provide lists of popular names for boys and girls and give the ethnic origin and the meaning of each name. Others list common names for pets. Still others list names from around the world.

Baby name books. Many of these books list unusual names appropriate for fantasy or science fiction characters.

Sports page of your local paper. Look for the results of high school sports competitions for the names of teenagers.

Historical documents. If you are looking for an appropriate name for a particular historical era, you can consult old census reports or newspapers from that time. Much of this information is available on the web.

The Bible. The Bible is a rich source of names that have religious and historical connotations.

Family and friends. Choose names from your extended family or circle of friends. But be careful. If you name a villain after Uncle George who’s bald and drives a Honda, give the corresponding character a full head of hair and a Mercedes. You don’t want to make enemies out of your relatives.

Ten classic examples of great names

Cherry Pie from Poppleton and Friends by Cynthia Rylant

Violet Baudelaire A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

Bilbo Baggins from The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Ramona Quimby from Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary

Anastasia Krupnik from Anastasia Krupnik by Lois Lowry

Gilly Hopkins from The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson

Pippi Longstocking from Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

Long John Silver from Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

Stuart Little from Stuart Little by E.B. White

Jeremiah Flintwinch from Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Authors want cut of second-hand sales

January 29, 2005

Authors want cut of second-hand sales
By Jack Malvern, Arts Reporter

AUTHORS are blaming online and charity bookshops for depriving them of their livelihoods. Literary figures, including A. S. Byatt, have called for a change in the law to make booksellers pay royalties for second-hand copies.

Online book-selling is now so efficient that readers can easily find second-hand copies from bookshops all over the country.

On the Amazon website, a copy of A. S. Byatt’s Possession costs £6.39 new, but can be ordered in “very good” condition for £4.20. Abebooks, a specialist second-hand book website, offers a “worn” copy from a bookshop in Suffolk for 70p.

The second-hand market also affects current bestsellers. Buyers can find The Da Vinci Code, the top-selling book last week, for £4.14 from Abebooks or as little as £3.50 on eBay, the internet auction website. The recommended retail price is £6.99.

Authors fear that the ease with which readers can find second-hand copies is shortening the shelf life of new books.

Dame Antonia Byatt has called for new rules to protect novelists using a system known as droit de suite, which guarantees artists a payment for each subsequent sale of their work. The rule is already scheduled to be introduced for visual art next year to ensure that painters receive a payment for second-hand sales of their work.

“Droit de suite is a very good way to protect us,” she said. “I hope they do something because earnings for an author can be absolutely pitiful.”

Charity bookshops such as Oxfam and Barnardo’s have exacerbated the problem by expanding their book-selling divisions.

Oxfam has become the largest retailer of second-hand books in Europe, with sales estimated at £15 million in the current financial year. It is expanding its network of specialist bookshops from 70 to an estimated 100 by the end of the next financial year. Its book sales have doubled in the past five years and quadrupled since 1997. Sales are increasing at 10 per cent a year.

Barnardo’s has also opened specialist bookshops and it sold more than a million books last year. Sales were so strong that the charity issued an appeal for customers to donate books to overcome a “book drought”.

Mark Le Fanu, the general secretary of the Society of Authors, said: “We could try to get charities to make a voluntary contribution to authors, but it would be difficult.” Enforced contributions were needed, he said.

A spokesman for Oxfam said that authors would face difficulties arguing for droit de suite because it would take money away from charity. “If you are having to add 50p, for example, to each book then it will make a difference to how the book sells,” he said.

Some authors suspect that many books sold as second hand are actually remainders. Penny Jordan, who writes romantic fiction, said: “Dealers can buy thousands of copies, on which the author does not receive any royalties.”


Atonement by Ian McEwan: recommended paperback price £7.99 — £1.29 “in good condition” — $2.95 (£1.57) “very good” — £0.90 “like new” eBay — £0.50 “as new”

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières: rpp £7.99 — £0.53 “very good” — $2.95 (£1.57) “very good” — £0.01 “very good” eBay — £0.50 “excellent”

Copyright 2005 Times Newspapers Ltd.
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Wednesday, February 09, 2005

village voice > books > Out On A Limb by Joy Press

On A Limb by Joy Press

Playing by its own strange rules, Judy Budnitz's latest collection turns mommy lit on its head

by Joy Press
February 4th, 2005 10:44 AM

Baby plays around: Budnitz takes on motherhood, mammograms, and mail-order brides.

Nice Big American Baby
By Judy Budnitz

I can tell you what Nice Big American Baby is not: an infant care primer. The latest hot mommy-lit novel. A memoir of childhood obesity. That's the easy part, much easier than summarizing the actual contents of Judy Budnitz's second collection of fabulist stories. Budnitz's narratives stretch and mutate along with her characters, who adapt to disappointment and adversity in most peculiar ways—by shape-shifting, vanishing, or learning to love the thing they despise.

This may not be mommy lit, but Budnitz does dwell on mother-child blurriness in several stories, reshaping blissful symbiosis into something far more discomfiting. In "Where We Come From," a pregnant woman named Precious resolves to escape her impoverished homeland and give birth across the border in the U.S. But her dream of a "nice big American baby" curdles into grotesquerie after she is repeatedly deported. Precious willfully keeps the unborn fetus inside her belly for years, even as he swells into an enormous toddler. "Her skin stretches, her bones shift, her blood feeds him," Budnitz writes. "When people see her they are amazed, but she is not; she has seen it before, the lengths the body will go to to preserve itself, to cling to life." Meanwhile, Julia, the white middle-class mother in "Miracles" (which initially appeared in The New Yorker), makes her own adjustments after her baby is born pitch-black. Friends assume she has been unfaithful, strangers make tactless remarks about adoption, and husband Jonas blames her weird food cravings for the child's "flaw." Budnitz has so much fun inflating parental ambivalence to mythical proportions that even standard anxieties about lactation and bonding take on an uncanny glow.

Other stories poke around familial relationships from the child's perspective. "Flush" revolves around a mammogram, but its real revelation is the blurry boundaries of Lisa and her mother, two women tangled up in a mutual knot of tenderness and fear. On their way to the doctor's office, Lisa notices that her mother's arm still automatically flies out to shield her grown daughter when the car stops short; likewise Lisa feels similarly protective toward her aging mom—"the shoulder blades like folded wings under her sweater"—and has "the urge to slide across the seat and curl around her. It only lasted for a second." She gets to act on her own impulse when her mother escapes from the doctor's bathroom (the water "quivering, as if it had just been flushed") and Lisa takes the mammogram in her mom's place.

The narrator of "Nadia" is an underminer, as relentless and lacking in self-awareness as the mono-loguist in David Foster Wallace's "The Depressed Person." She is catty verging on malevolent toward Nadia, the mail-order bride of Joel (supposedly one of the narrator's oldest friends), constantly ascribing the worst possible motives to this fragile immigrant. Like Precious in "Where We Come From," Nadia finds little comfort within U.S. borders.. Instead of growing into a fat, happy American, she remains thin-skinned and frail, "wrapped as if to prevent breakage in a puffy quilted coat that covered her head to foot." When the nasty narrator discovers that Nadia left a child behind, she sneers at the idea of her giving birth: "Out of those girls'-size-twelve hips? Such a tight squeeze. We pictured a blue and dented baby among gray hospital linen." (On the other hand, the narrator is so juicy she can imagine "people taking bites, here and here and here. I could feed a family of five for a week.") This ugly American can't even be bothered to remember precisely which country Nadia comes from—it's just one of those generic overseas hell zones on the nightly news, jam-packed with refugees and tanks. "Nadia" wavers in tone; like several other stories in this collection, it threatens to tip over into either preachiness or absurdity, but ends with a sharp twist that rescues the narrative from stale expectations.

In Nice Big American Baby, we never know where we stand: Is this political satire? Allegory? Magic realism? A sick joke? Budnitz's voice is comfortable and perfectly pitched, and her characters live and think in ways that feel vaguely familiar. Yet the laws of the universe are different here. Tiny hints of strangeness slowly spread over every surface, like the fresh coat of white skin that eventually grows over the black baby in "Miracle" like "a crust, a chrysalis." "The Kindest Cut" opens with a narrator paging through the diary of his ancestor, a Civil War surgeon. But this straightforward history quickly darkens into an ingrown fairy tale, the bizarre but riveting saga of a man obsessed with amputated limbs—preserving, cataloging, and harvesting them. They are, in his words, "merely innocent bystanders." We too are bystanders in Budnitz's world, and after a few hours here, it's hard to see arms, legs, babies, or anything else quite the same way again.

village voice > news > A Murder Made for the Front Page by Jarrett Murphy

A Murder Made for the Front Page

When Nicole duFresne died, man bit dog and ink flowed

by Jarrett Murphy
February 8th, 2005 4:15 PM

The Sunday before Nicole duFresne became famous, the New York Police Department reported 35 murders in the city so far this year. By week's end, there'd be 41. Some made the papers. Eric Dunning was killed by an ex-con. Juan Jimenez died in a hit-and-run. Fausto Lachapel was gunned down in a lobby. But none were front-page fodder, day after day, like duFresne. She had the unique characteristics of being white, beautiful, and murdered. It wasn't just any murder. It was a random crime, committed by an apparently clueless perp, and ending in a dramatic death scene: She died in her lover's arms. And she wasn't just any white girl, but a woman who'd come to New York chasing her dream, an actress who had just worked her first shift at a trendy bar when she was killed. These details—rather than her race—are the hooks that newspaper people involved in the coverage say drew them into the story, transforming duFresne from just another of the city's roughly 570 killings in the past year into a household name.

It began with the Post's January 28 "Beauty Slain" front page, followed by "That's Him" on page one of the Daily News when police released a surveillance tape of the suspect. Newsday had "Cops Say He's the Shooter" on February 1, when the alleged gunman was charged. The suspect, Rudy Fleming, was pictured sobbing on all three tabs' covers. The Post noted that Fleming was "whining to cops 'like a little girl,' " and the next day reported that "the sniveling jailbird" soiled his pants during a 2001 confrontation with police. DuFresne's killing was B1 in the Times, as was the report of Fleming's arrest. The murder made the papers in duFresne's home state of Minnesota, in Seattle where she once lived, and in Boston where she went to school. It drew mentions from Reno to Canada and on ABC, CBS, and NBC.

DuFresne is on her way to becoming one of New York's super-victims, like the Central Park jogger in 1989; Brian Watkins, the tourist whose stabbing death in 1990 led Time to declare "The Rotting of the Big Apple"; or Nicole Barrett, the woman from Texas severely injured in a 1999 brick attack. With her star status came the familiar question of whether duFresne's slaying would have received as much ink if she had been black, Hispanic, or unattractive.

It's not a question of overt racism. "It's a mind-set. It's a way of seeing the world, it's a perspective, it's the way people connect certain dots," says Natalie Byfield, a former Daily News reporter who runs the Black Media Foundation and is writing a dissertation about the Central Park case. "This does not take away from the tragedy of the event, but lots of tragic events happen in New York City, so how do we as journalists go about singling out the stories that we're going to feature prominently?" she asks. What makes papers decide to devote resources to a particular tragedy?

In duFresne's case, editors at three papers—the Times, the News, and Newsday (the Post did not return calls)—say the story unfolded remarkably quickly, helping them to uncover within hours the details of duFresne's life and death that set her case apart.

At just after 3 a.m. on January 27, the NYPD notified reporters of a shooting at the corner of Rivington and Clinton streets. "A female in her 30s was shot one time in the chest following an altercation with a male black and two female blacks," the bulletin read. Usually the race of the victim is noted; this time it wasn't. The Daily News' overnight reporter headed to the scene, says metro editor Dean Chang, but found just one witness and no victim. Hours passed before the story took shape.

When Times police reporter Michael Wilson saw the bulletin later that morning, he and colleagues at first heard the victim was Hispanic. Eventually, duFresne was reported dead, and details began to trickle in. Wilson told his editors that he had a hot one: A young bartender had been killed on the way home from her first night on the job. Times assistant metro editor Wendell Jamieson dispatched reporters to the crime scene and the Seventh Precinct.

"News is not a mathematical equation. It's not something you tally up and divide and you come up with a number from one to 10. It's a gut reaction," Jamieson says. "This story was headed for the top of B1 whatever color she was."

Chang recalls that it wasn't until he was leaving his 3 p.m. story meeting that he learned duFresne's name. Reporters soon found a website that featured not only the now familiar head shot of duFresne, but also a full résumé, a list of plays she had been involved with, and contact information. With a few clicks, they had gathered the sort of in-depth biographical information that can sometimes take hours or days to assemble. "Everyone had the raw material to build a good story," says Chang. They learned that she was an actress, "and that was enough for us to immediately launch reporters everywhere we could," Chang says. "This wasn't just any old person."

But did the website belong to the right Nicole duFresne? At Newsday, metro editor Diane Davis's staff found four women with that name, and one reporter actually called a living one's relative. Over at the Times, Wilson—not knowing if he had found the right Nicole—left a message on the victim's cell phone, then called a second number listed on her website. A short time later, Jeffrey Sparks called him back and confirmed that Wilson had found the right duFresne. Wilson asked Sparks how he'd heard about the crime.

"She died in my arms," Sparks, the fiancé, said. Suddenly, Wilson had the victim's life story and an eyewitness in hand.

The Daily News was also in touch with Sparks, having sent a reporter to his door. Sparks and duFresne's mother and brother—who appeared on multiple network morning programs—were crucial to the development of the story. "Sometimes we pursue a story and we come up against closed doors and you realize people don't want to talk. In this case, people did want to talk," Davis says.

For the tabs, it was instant front-page material, and it returned to page one over several days, thanks to the release of the surveillance tape and the unusually fast sequence of arrests. The Times played it on the metro front. Jamieson says it deserved that prominence because it was "a random crime on the streets of New York, somebody who dies in something as stupid as a mugging." That it was her first night of work and a crime in an "interesting neighborhood" were also factors, he adds.

For Chang, "It's the kind of story that you'd want to hear, one of those aspiring- success stories." Davis agrees. "People come to New York to make it here and here is a woman who did just that," she says. "So I think that strikes a chord with a lot of people, including people who are covering the story as well."

In 1980, when Jean Harris, the head of a ritzy Southern girls' school, killed her lover, the "Scarsdale diet" doctor Herman Tarnower, the case was splashed on the Times front page day after day, leading CBS News mandarin Fred Friendly to ask Times headman Abe Rosenthal if it really deserved that much ink. After all, it was just a murder. "But it's our kind of murder," Rosenthal said.

In other words, it's the kind of murder you don't expect to hear about because it crosses into the ranks of the not-often murdered. It's man bites dog, the definition of a story. How unexpected was Nicole duFresne's death? As a white woman, she had only a one-in-50,000 chance of being murdered, and only one in seven white murder victims is slain by a black person.

The metro chiefs say race simply didn't factor in. "We're worried about trying to find the most interesting story on each given day," says Chang. He contends the duFresne story "would have been no less compelling had she been black or Asian or Latino." Davis says there was internal discussion at Newsday about whether the duFresne story was being played appropriately. "It certainly crosses our mind," she says, but adds that editors make their calls on how to play a killing based on the other stories of each day, not murders from months past. "You can't look at it in a vacuum." Jamieson says race "just never entered my head."

What enters readers' heads is another matter. "The story and the play alone create the perception that white people are vulnerable to assault from black people," says Kelly McBride, ethics group leader at the Poynter Institute. "Now, if that's not true, you as a journalist have an obligation to point out what the reality is."

Race is undeniably part of the duFresne story. The randomness and location of the crime are linked to race, because white women are so rarely killed and the Seventh Precinct is gentrifying. If skin color didn't figure into how papers handled duFresne's killing—and there were plenty of color-blind reasons to work this story—maybe it should have had a place in the stories themselves. A simple reference to how rare black-on-white crime is would acknowledge the racial dynamic inherent in the facts. "More—not less—information is really important," says McBride.

Quote of the Day

Success is a continuing process. Failure is a stoppage. The man who keeps moving and working does not fail…If you write a hundred short stories and they’re all bad, that doesn’t mean that you’ve failed. You fail only if you stop writing. I’ve written about 2,000 short stories; I’ve only published 300 and I feel I’m still learning. Any man who keeps working is not a failure. He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he’ll eventually make some kind of career for himself as a writer.

- Ray Bradbury

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

PRESS RELEASE: Science Fiction Authors Hoax Vanity Publisher

Science Fiction Authors Hoax Vanity Publisher

'Atlanta Nights,' by Travis Tea, was offered a publishing contract by PublishAmerica of Frederick, Maryland.
Washington, DC (PRWEB) January 28, 2005 -- Over a holiday weekend last year, some thirty-odd science fiction writers banged out a chapter or two apiece of 'Atlanta Nights,' a novel about hot times in Atlanta high society. Their objective: to write a deeply awful novel to submit to PublishAmerica, a self-described 'traditional publisher' located in Frederick, Maryland.

The project began after PublishAmerica posted an attack on science fiction authors at one of its websites ( PublishAmerica claimed "As a rule of thumb, the quality bar for sci-fi and fantasy is a lot lower than for all other fiction.... [Science fiction authors] have no clue about what it is to write real-life stories, and how to find them a home." It described them as "writers who erroneously believe that SciFi, because it is set in a distant future, does not require believable storylines, or that Fantasy, because it is set in conditions that have never existed, does not need believable every-day characters."

The writers wanted to see where PublishAmerica puts its own quality bar; if the publisher really is selective, as the company claims, or if it is a vanity press that will accept almost anything, as publishing professionals assert.

"Atlanta Nights" was completed, any sign of literary competence was blue-penciled, and the resulting manuscript was submitted.

PublishAmerica accepted it.

From: PublishAmerica Aquisitions [e-mail protected from spam bots]
Sent: Tuesday, December 07, 2004
Subject: Atlanta Nights

As this is an important piece of email regarding your book, please read it completely from start to finish. I am happy to inform you that PublishAmerica has decided to give "Atlanta Nights" the chance it deserves....Welcome to PublishAmerica, and congratulations on what promises to be an exciting time ahead.

Meg Phillips
Acquisitions Editor

The hoax was publicly revealed on January 23, 2005. PublishAmerica withdrew their offer shortly afterward:

From: "PublishAmerica Acquisitions"
Sent: Monday, January 24, 2005
Subject: Your Submission to PublishAmerica

We must withdraw our offer to publish "Atlanta Nights". Upon further review it appears that your work is not ready to be published. There are portions of nonsensical text in the manuscript that were caught by our editing staff as they previewed the text for editing time assessment pending your acceptance of our offer.

On the positive side, maybe you want to consider contracting the book with a vanity publisher such as iUniverse or Author House. They will certainly publish your book at a fee.

Thank you.
PublishAmerica Acquisitions Department

Those who wish to see the novel, "Atlanta Nights" by Travis Tea, for themselves can find it at

Publication at is free.

For more information about PublishAmerica and vanity presses, see:

# # #

SBC Yahoo! Mail -

Quote of the Day

Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
Never use a long word where a short one will do.
If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
Never use the passive where you can use the active.
Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or jargon word if you can think of an everyday British equivalent.
Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbaric.

- George Orwell

Saturday, February 05, 2005

P&E: Warning List

P&E: Warning List

Important Update

Most of our warnings have been moved to our regular listings so you won't have to check here to find out if anyone has a complaint lodged against them. This section will contain only those businesses for which we don't have a category established.

Angelfire: this service provider has a provision in its service agreement that threatens copyrights.

AOL: this service provider has placed a provision in its service agreement that threatens copyrights.

Central Publishers Services, Inc.: A subscription service. Unfortunately, this business sends out material with the appearance of a bill. Contact at:
2180 S. Loudoun St.
PMB 303
Winchester, VA 22601-3615

Cyber Patrol: visit this link for more information.

Cybersitter: visit this link for more information.

Prodigy: this network has blocked web sites more than once without giving the owners warning, notice, or an explanation.

Publishers Agency: A subscription service. Unfortunately, this business sends out material with the appearance of a bill. Their form has "Subscription" and "Tracking No." listed so that it almost appears you're already dealing with them. Contact at:
PMB 103
1739 E. Carson St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15203

Readers Publication Services: A subscription service. Unfortunately, this business sends out material with the appearance of a bill. Their form has "Notice of Renewal/New Order" in large red lettering so that it almost appears you're already dealing with them. Contact at:
5445 Maint St.
Suite 201
Stephens City, Va 22655-2800

Subscription Services: unbelievable as it sounds, this outfit sent an offer that looked like a bill to P&E's editor on the same day that a renewal arrived from the publisher of the same magazine offered in both. Subscription Services wanted to charge $100 for 44 issues versus the publisher's price of $69.97 for 44 issues. If you really want to deal with them, contact at:

Customer Data Center
4960 Almaden Expy #259
San Jose, CA 95118

Tripod: this service provider has a provision in its service agreement that threatens copyrights.

U.S. Consumer Protection Agency: this appears to be a sham since the US government doesn't license people for a fee to work for the real Consumer Protection Agency. Our heartfelt thanks to the FTC who pointed this site out to us since we had it listed for awhile as the real thing. Our apologies to anyone who went to this site seeking real assistance or information.

XOOM: this service provider kicked off a publisher site based on unsubstantiated complaints and without any apparent investigation. Also, this service provider has a provision in its service agreement that threatens copyrights.

Yahoo/GeoCities: this service provider has placed a provision in its service agreement that threatens copyrights.


Other Sites With Useful Warnings

Absolute Write: Check the Bewares and Background Check forum. Highly recommended.

Anti-Phishing Working Group: Well worth the visit. Recommended.

C Sign Page, The: rates businesses.

CIAC Internet Hoaxes: list and explanations of recent Internet virus hoaxes.

Copyscape: Online copyright protection and detection. Recommended.

Cruel Site of the Day: need I say more?

Crusader Rabbit's HP: more info on Woodside Literary Agency. Link reported broken.

Ethical Spectacle, The: tracks censorship and other injustices.

FictionAddiction.Net's Watchdog: Provides excellent coverage of some publishers and agencies that writers should be aware of. Recommended.

File Room Censorship Archive, The: site interested in preserving the First Amendment.

First Amendment.Org: site interested in preserving the First Amendment. Site URL reported now linking to XXX porn site.

Free Expression Clearinghouse: site interested in preserving the First Amendment.

Freelance Writing on the Internet: a resource site worth visiting. Be sure to check out the info on agents. Link reported broken.

Frequently Asked Questions About Edit Ink: here's a site to check before picking an agent or publisher. Link reported broken.

Internet Fraud Complaint Center (IFCC): "a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C).
IFCC's mission is to address fraud committed over the Internet. For victims of Internet fraud, IFCC provides a convenient and easy-to-use reporting mechanism that alerts authorities of a suspected criminal or civil violation. For law enforcement and regulatory agencies at all levels, IFCC offers a central repository for complaints related to Internet fraud, works to quantify fraud patterns, and provides timely statistical data of current fraud trends." Recommended.

Internet ScamBusters: tracks scams. Offers free ezine.

Karen's World: rates businesses.

Literary Contest Caution: the truth about many of the poetry contests. Provided by Wind Magazine. Recommended.

Literary Scams: appears to be dead: looks like a new site dedicated to tracking down scams for the benefit of writers.

MIT Student Association for Freedom of Expression (SAFE) Home Page: informative site about net-blocking programs and threats to freedom of expression.

National Consumers League: consumer protection advocacy group.

P E A C E F I R E: informative site about net-blocking programs.

Poetry Scams: Looks like some interesting statistics and decent advice here. Worth a visit. Link reported broken.

Publishing Scams: Features lots of input from writers. Highly recommended.

The Renaissance Papers / A.L. Sirois: worth a look. The site is gone, but there's a clever 404 error worth sitting through.

Rip-off Report™: "ALL complaints remain public in order to create a working history on the Company or Individual in question; unedited." Recommended.

Short Order, The: this writers' magazine has a scam alert column.

SongShark: must visit site for musicians and lyricists that warns of various music scams. Rumormill: Look in the Caveat Scrivener section. Highly recommended.

Tony Pittarese's Business Sense: rates businesses.

Write Connection: check this site for great information about agents. Editor's note: regrettably, this site has closed shop.

Writer Beware: Features excellent advice. Highly recommended.

Writers Net: Besides the Discussion forum, check their main page for a listing of topics. Highly recommended.

WritersWeekly Whispers and Warnings: Well worth the visit. Highly recommended.

Yahoo's Censorship Site: worth visiting.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

In this new genre, no heroine can be younger than 48 |

In this new genre, no heroine can be younger than 48

It's called 'matron lit,' a name no one likes. But these books, featuring women of a certain age, are challenging chick lit.

By Marilyn Gardner | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

Joan Medlicott never expected to find herself in the forefront of a new literary genre. But six years ago, as she relaxed in the bath one evening, three characters suddenly appeared in her imagination. All were widows of a certain age.

Over the next few days, as a plot began to develop, Ms. Medlicott sat at her computer, recording essential details of her story. Although this was her first foray into fiction, 'my fingers just flew over the keys,' Medlicott says.

The result was 'The Ladies of Covington Send Their Love,' the first in what would become a popular series of novels about women in their 60s who begin new lives together at a North Carolina farmhouse.

Since then, other novelists have also realized the fictional potential of this age group. They are creating a growing cast of midlife and older characters who serve as counterpoints to the hip young singles romping through popular novels.

Move over, chick lit. Make room on bookshelves for "matron lit," the latest literary category to catch publishers' - and readers' - interest. As baby boomer women reach their 50s and approach their 60s, many are eager to read about women like themselves, Medlicott says.

In books with catchy titles such as "The Hot Flash Club," "Julie and Romeo," and "The Red Hat Club," authors offer reassurance that the middle and later years, while not without challenges and sorrows, can include zest, adventure, and - gasp - romance.

Even Larry McMurtry, the bestselling author of "Lonesome Dove" and "Terms of Endearment," has joined the matron lit set. His new novel, "Loop Group," stars two feisty 60-plus women on a road trip to Hollywood.

"Women need to connect," says Medlicott. And in matron lit, those connections revolve around "women who find themselves, who build new lives, who accept the possibilities that life offers and are willing to take risks."

'Nobody cares about older people'

In the beginning, though, finding a publisher willing to take risks on this subject proved challenging. Medlicott mailed query letters to 25 female literary agents, hoping they would be receptive to a book starring older characters. One of them, Nancy Coffey of New York, said yes.

After sending the book to 15 publishers, some of whom were in their 50s, Ms. Coffey received 14 rejections.

"They all said, 'Thank you, it's beautifully written, but nobody cares about older people.' " Coffey recalls. "One publisher said, 'Tell her to make her characters in their 40s, hot and juicy, and I'll buy it.' I said, 'That's not the story. It can't be done.' "

When St. Martin's Press published the book, readers responded enthusiastically.

Still, no one really loves the term matron lit. "There doesn't seem to be a perfect word that describes this demographic," says Micki Nuding, a senior editor at Pocket Books, which in March will publish Medlicott's next novel, "The Three Mrs. Parkers."

Terms such as "hen lit" and "lady lit" didn't have the right ring, either, publishers found. A similar category in Britain, "granny lit," refers to novels written by authors over 60.

"Matron lit sounds so dowdy," says Nancy Thayer, author of "The Hot Flash Club," which features four women between the ages of 48 and 62.

Most of her readers mirror that age category. But she also hears from younger women; some have mothers dealing with aging issues, while other simply identify with the stories, Ms. Thayer says.

"So many women I meet are starting life over at 50," Thayer says. "Many people this age, maybe because they have to, are revising their lives. They're taking different jobs or finally writing that novel they've always wanted to write."

The inspiration for her novel came after AARP asked to use a quote from one of her earlier novels, which reads: "It's never too late, in fiction or in life, to revise." About the same time she received her AARP membership card. "Both of those things made me realize, You know, we do exist."

Her novels include another credo: "It's never too late to make new friends." The power and enduring importance of women's friendships run like a golden thread through many matron lit books.

In nonfiction, new titles focusing on midlife include "Dating After 50," by Sharon Romm, and "Inventing the Rest of Our Lives: Women in Second Adulthood," by Suzanne Braun Levine.

Thirty-seven million women are between the ages of 49 and 69, notes Ms. Levine. In addition, women over 45 make up the largest number of people starting their own businesses.

Expanding roles

"We face an open frontier that we can experience," she adds. "We're not just going to fill it with the grandma role, as a white-haired lady with her bags packed, sitting by the phone waiting to be summoned to baby-sit. We love our grandchildren, but we have big plans for ourselves. The question women are asking themselves is, What am I going to do with the rest of my life?"

Some will continue their careers. But Levine offers another point of view. "People often define being effective in old age as continuing to work. We're going to redefine that. A lot of women have worked hard with great satisfaction or with no satisfaction and really want to try something else."

Ideas for this "something else" abound as matron-lit novels continue to roll off the presses. In addition to Medlicott's latest book in March, other titles coming this spring include "Julie and Romeo Get Lucky," by Jeanne Ray, and "The Red Hat Club Rides Again," by Haywood Smith.

Referring to the potential of matron lit, Coffey says, "The climate is changing a little bit, but it will take a little more magic for the doors to open completely. Someday it's all going to click. These books are giving women ideas, giving them hope for something that is available for them for the last part of their lives."

For now, as women in this generation work to counter what Levine describes as "a terrible plague of ageism in our culture," she remains optimistic. "It hasn't hit us yet what we are capable of," she says. "We're striking out in new terrain with confidence, expertise, and energy, with the freedom to write our own script. What we're doing will be so interesting that sooner or later it will be picked up and noticed."

Researching an Agent's Track Record--an article by Victoria Strauss

Researching an Agent's Track Record--an article by Victoria Strauss

Research is the name of the game, whether you’re searching for a contractor to put a new roof on your house, or an agent to represent your book. How do you research a contractor? You check references. You make sure the company has experience doing jobs like yours. You verify that there are no outstanding complaints. Your book deserves the same consideration.

Before submitting a query, the canny author will carefully research the agents s/he has targeted. Aside from the obvious--you want to approach agents who have an interest in the sort of work you're trying to sell--there’s another compelling reason to verify an agent's reputation before (as opposed to after) you submit: You don’t want to find yourself having to fend off the dubious attentions of a questionable agent.
Rest of article found at above link.