Thursday, March 31, 2005

Web Mystery Magazine Spring 2005, Volume II, issue 4

Welcome to Spring 2005: Volume II, Issue 4

Web Mystery Magazine is extremely proud to present this issue, featuring non-fiction articles and columns by experts in a variety of fields, from forensics to private investigations to historical fiction to pulp fiction history, as well as original short mystery fiction by writers both established and new.

Bookmouth.com

Simple Things You Can Do To Get The Word Out
About Your Independent Project

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The Internet Review of Science Fiction

The Internet Review of Science Fiction is a forum for the serious exploration of the literature of the fantastic. IROSF publishes intelligent articles, essays, interviews, reviews, and criticism to illuminate the most interesting and important work in the genres of science fiction and fantasy.

HOW TO BECOME A SUCCESSFUL WRITER

This quote is taken from the Romance Writer Report March issue.

THAT SOMETHING SPECIAL
Ten Tips on HOw to Become a Successful Writer
by Patricia Kay


"James N. Frey in How to Write a Damn Good NovelII says, voice is the "who" that tells the tale--the persona you assume when you seit down to writer. Frey says a strong narrative voice creates a feeling in the reader that the writer knwos what he or she is talking about. It creates trust. It lets the reader relax the critical faculty and go with the flow of words. He says in nonfiction, a strong narrative voice is created by tone and a command of facts. In fiction, a strong narrative voice is created by tone and a command of detail."


#5 Make Point of View Work for You
"When it comes to craft, the mastery of point of view (POV) is probably the single most important skill a writer can acquire."

WritersServices 2004

This is a great website for writers.

Foetry Speaks!

This Week’s Column:

FOETRY SPEAKS!

... a MobyLives guest column

by Anonymous


Editor's note: Recent news items in the MobyLives news digest about the website Foetry.com, and its accusations that certain literary prize competitions are corrupt, have generated some of the most heated mail this site has ever received. Remarkably, most of that mail—even the majority that applauded Foetry—was, by request, off the record.

Seeking light amidst the heat, MobyLives has asked Foetry.com to explain itself, and in particular to address concerns about the anonymity of whomever is behind it. Foetry agreed . . . on the condition of anonymity. While MobyLives does not favor the use of anonymous sources, there are times when, because of threat to the source, they are justified. The proprietor of Foetry.com satisfied the proprietor of MobyLives that this was such a case.

28 March 2005 — According to Whitman, "The maker of poems settles justice, reality, immortality." How will the poets writing and publishing today be remembered?

Foetry.com launched on April 1st of 2004 to expose the status quo in American poetry publication: many books published are winners of contests that are often large–scale fraud operations. Judges select their friends, students, and lovers from pools of manuscripts numbering in the hundreds or thousands, accompanied by an entry fee, usually around $20–$25. Some of the competitions are sponsored by university presses, such as the Iowa Poetry Prize and the University of Georgia Contemporary Poetry Series.

As soon as Foetry.com was launched, the defenses began. "What if the manuscript really was the best one?" "This is how it's always been." "You should spend less time whining and more time writing." "You're just bitter that you didn't win."

We hear the same arguments regularly and none are convincing. When is it ever acceptable to cheat? Have we really come to the point that universities sponsor "open" competitions that are funded by thousands of hopeful victims? When Jorie Graham, a Harvard professor, selects the manuscript of her own husband and colleague, Peter Sacks, out of hundreds of entries, why are people angry at us instead of them? Does academic integrity apply only to students and not to professors?

When these poets publish their "winning" books, more awards, readings, and teaching posts follow. The judges bestow prizes to the writing they helped to shape, that they influenced, in contests subsidized by entrants on a crooked playing field. In an exchange on "Ambition and Greatness" in a recent issue of the journal Poetry, Daisy Fried says, " . . . when the only aim is getting an A+ in reproducing teachers' revolutions, it's unlikely to lead anywhere but mediocrity."

Any judge can easily recognize the writing of poets they have taught, or work they know intimately, in a blind reading; removing the names from manuscripts is not enough. It's a poor excuse and every good reader knows that. Contests must prohibit entries from poets where a conflict of interest is a possibility. Screeners and judges must recuse themselves when writing is recognized as that of a personal associate.

Foetry.com is under attack by two groups of people. One is the poets who have benefited from the unscrupulous behaviors we discuss, and their defensive friends. The second is made up of those who hope to advance their writing by defending illicit activities; after all, one day it may happen for them — if their poetry cannot stand on merit, perhaps it will be affirmed through connections at the right cocktail party or by sucking up this week at the Associated Writing Programs annual conference.

In addition to our webpages that detail the illicit — some say illegal — selections of various contests, and the judges who made the choices, Foetry.com provides a discussion forum area. Most of the more than eight hundred members of the forum are anonymous, as are the site administrators. We are tired of the people who use that as a way to discredit what we are doing. Their hope is that people will forget the real issue if they say we are cowards, or that they have no way to defend themselves. The people complaining about anonymity are the ones who have something to hide. Do we refuse to read every article in the newspaper that quotes a source speaking on condition of anonymity?

Lately, it has become clear why anonymity is important. Our forum includes stories of blacklisting by Brown University professors. A website called Whoisfoetry divulges the "true" identities of some of our site members and solicits tips for our outing. The University of Georgia released the name of the person who requested records of the judges and their selections on our behalf. Recently, through insinuation, another forum member has been victimized on a professor's personal website as retaliation for our work, though he was not involved; in fact, he had not even posted on our site. He has been victimized by foets on grant panels before and was recently threatened again.

We are not afraid; our work is just beginning. Some presses have adopted the so–called Jorie Graham rule, a moniker created because the Macarthur genius and Pulitzer winner has chosen her students and lovers as "prizewinning poets" so many times. In general, the rule says no friends or former students of the judge are eligible, but even with that important guideline in place, some publishers are violating their own rules. The University of Georgia finally added a statement of Academic Integrity to the contest page, and soon after announced winners of the latest round. One, Susan Maxwell, is a current student in the PhD program at the University of Denver, where series editor for the George prize, Bin Ramke, teaches. Every party should be ashamed, from Georgia, which allowed that to happen again, to Bin Ramke, to Susan Maxwell, whose work is affirmed only through fraud.

One of our Foetry Forum regulars, Vermeer expresses the frustrations of our visitors:

I know the poets I love (Neruda, Blas de Otero, Lorca, Angel Gonzalez, Brodsky, Bei Dao, Yannis Ritsos, Vasko Popa, Nâzim Hikmet) have always seemed heroic to me. They stood up to political regimes. They wrote when their lives were threatened. Lorca was dragged into an olive grove and assassinated. Ritsos and Hikmet were thrown in prison. But they continued to stand up against the oppressors, the thieves of liberty and freedom of expression. And they helped change the world to be a better place, they confronted the word and created art that transformed. And here in America the brave writers of the MFA programs and non–MFA programs can't get a little backbone and stand up and say enough is enough with these rigged contests and self dealing awards? Stop this pathetic self–dealing and stealing? STOP STEALING! It is utterly outrageous and pathetic. We can't do that?

That is what we want. If the contests are to continue, if taxpayers are to support the National Endowment for the Arts, which funds many of the sham presses, then we insist that people stop stealing. We are watching.



This commentary was written by the editor of Foetry.com who wished to remain anonymous.


©2005 Foetry.com

Saturday, March 26, 2005

KRT Wire | 03/25/2005 | Schiavo case results in threats, prompting calls for calm

Posted on Fri, Mar. 25, 2005

Schiavo case results in threats, prompting calls for calm

BY HELEN KENNEDY

New York Daily News


TAMPA, Fla. - (KRT) - As Terri Schiavo weakens and legal options peter out, tension here is intensifying.

Some pro-life activists are making ugly threats, making up "Wanted" posters for lawmakers and handing out the home addresses of judges who rejected legal appeals to keep Schiavo alive.

"I am afraid," said state Sen. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami, who has received numerous death threats by phone and mail because she voted against a measure to reinsert Schiavo's feeding tube. "We're talking about the sanctity of life, and (they're) threatening my life."

The nine Republican lawmakers who voted against the measure showed up on anonymous "Wanted" posters that appeared in the state capitol in Tallahassee. State Sen. Nancy Argenziano said one of the "un-Christian" voice mails she's received wished stomach cancer on her.

Guards have been posted outside the politicians' offices.

Police won't discuss their security measures, but Michael Schiavo and Judge George Greer, who has consistently upheld Schiavo's requests to end his wife's life, are under around-the-clock protection and staying out of sight. Both have been the targets of a flood of fury, branding them corrupt and abusive murderers who are flouting God.

"Various law enforcement agencies are aware of the emotions in this case and have taken appropriate actions," said Wayne Shelor, spokesman for the police in Clearwater, Fla., where Michael Schiavo lives.

Popular right-wing Web sites have had to post prominent warnings against threats of violence on their discussion boards after calls for the armed "liberation" of Terri Schiavo from her hospice and comments suggesting that if her husband were taken out of the picture, guardianship would revert to her parents, who want to keep her alive.

People on Schiavo's street in Clearwater have received anonymous postcards saying: "Your neighbor Michael Schiavo is trying to murder his wife."

Gov. Jeb Bush was alarmed enough to call for calm.

"There have been some reports that people are making threatening declarations if this process doesn't go their way," he said. "I urge all who want to help Terri Schiavo to honor her by remaining calm and acting peacefully, even though we are all very distressed by what's happening."

"Even though we may disagree with the courts," he added, "there is no justification for violent acts."

---

(New York Daily News correspondent Richard Sisk contributed to this report.)

---

© 2005, New York Daily News.

Visit the Daily News online at http://www.nydailynews.com

Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.






Schiavo case results in threats, prompting calls for calm

BY HELEN KENNEDY

New York Daily News


TAMPA, Fla. - (KRT) - As Terri Schiavo weakens and legal options peter out, tension here is intensifying.
Some pro-life activists are making ugly threats, making up 'Wanted' posters for lawmakers and handing out the home addresses of judges who rejected legal appeals to keep Schiavo alive.
'I am afraid,' said state Sen. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami, who has received numerous death threats by phone and mail because she voted against a measure to reinsert Schiavo's feeding tube. 'We're talking about the sanctity of life, and (they're) threatening my life.'
The nine Republican lawmakers who voted against the measure showed up on anonymous 'Wanted' posters that appeared in the state capitol in Tallahassee. State Sen. Nancy Argenziano said one of the 'un-Christian' voice mails she's received wished stomach cancer on her.
Guards have been posted outside the politicians' offices.
Police won't discuss their security measures, but Michael Schiavo and Judge George Greer, who has consistently upheld Schiavo's requests to end his wife's life, are under around-the-clock protection and staying out of sight. Both have been the targets of a flood of fury, branding them corrupt and abusive murderers who are flouting God.
'Various law enforcement agencies are aware of the emotions in this case and have taken appropriate actions,' said Wayne Shelor, spokesman for the police in Clearwater, Fla., where Michael Schiavo lives.
Popular right-wing Web sites have had to post prominent warnings against threats of vi"

Friday, March 25, 2005

Guardian Unlimited Books | News | Belittled women

Belittled women

The editors of a prestigious collection of new writing say most of the submissions from women were dull, 'disappointingly domestic' and 'depressed as hell'. AL Kennedy asks why we are so obsessed with an author's gender, Yvonne Roberts suggests that women writers do lack ambition, and Jane Rogers argues that some of the best fiction is domestic

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The Globe and Mail: Novel way to rebel against your parents

So, if your natural mother or father is just a horror and not a horror writer, can you file a court petition and adopt a famous novelist that will help your career?

Christopher Rice didn't have to go to those lengths. His mother is Anne Rice. He just had to eat all his vegetables and put his plate in the sink after each meal.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The dust jacket of the U.S. author Christopher Rice's book, Light Before Day, due out in Canada from distributor H. B. Fenn this month, has not one but two blurbs comparing his writing to that of horror author Stephen King. It's a fine distinction to earn, if a little peculiar, since Rice is in fact deeply indebted to another horror writer -- his mother, Anne Rice, who is also mentioned on the back cover. But it's not yet known if such cross-pollinating promotion will be repeated when Stephen King's son Owen comes out with his first book, We're All in This Together, distributed by Raincoast Books in July. . .

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Hungry for more? Satiate your appetite with some take out news from www.globeandmail.com. Need directions? Click on the header link.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Tod Goldberg: Natural Selection

Please visit Tod Goldberg's site and read the ten things that irk him most about some prospective writing students' manuscripts.

I'll post one and two so that you can get an idea of what he's up against.

1. What's with people calling their books 'fictional novels?' Is there some other kind of novel I'm not aware of? In a related question..."

2. Don't you have to know, before you finish your book, if it is fiction or nonfiction? Here are two quotes taken directly from cover letters: "This novel is a memoir, I think. I probably won't know until I finish it." And: "This story is true, but I've changed some of the issues to dramatize it, but it is still nonfiction." Uh, no. If you change it to dramatize it, that makes it fiction. Just ask Jayson Blair. And further, why would you take a class on novel writing if you're writing true stories?

Monday, March 21, 2005

Guardian Unlimited Books | Special Reports | How to be a bestseller

Danuta Kean explains what makes a book a success

Saturday August 4, 2001
The Guardian

Imagine you're a bestselling author. How do you see yourself? A chick-lit star, posing for Hello! with celebrity friends at your glamorous book launch? Propping up the bar in Soho House, an ageing lit-lad making ironic observations to the arm-candy at your side? Whatever the fantasy, it is doubtful it involves days spent developing repetitive-strain industry in a book warehouse as you sign 1,000 books an hour, or weeks schlepping round the provincial bookshops of Britain meeting booksellers more interested in the famous footballer scheduled for a signing after you.
It is unlikely, too, that your fantasy involves your publisher passing up to £10,000 to chain booksellers and supermarkets so that they will consider displaying your book at the front of their branches. Or paying a chain £6,000 to choose your book as a Read of the Week, or shelling out £25,000 to guarantee its appearance in Christmas catalogues.

Most of the books in bestseller lists were propelled there by at least some money changing hands at retailers' head offices, and by writers working hard to promote themselves. We may have quaint fantasies about authors, but publishers labour under the same demands for profits as workers in any other business. Besides, with upwards of 120,000 new titles published every year, authors need all the help they can get to ensure their book ends up on the shelves of readers - as opposed to those of remainder bookshops.

Of course, there are books that make it without the aid of expensive marketing and publicity campaigns, but they are rare and becoming rarer. Even legendary word-of-mouth successes, such as Captain Corelli's Mandolin, received a hand up the charts from carefully orchestrated promotions. In Louis de Bernières's case, this involved careful thought about the cover, pre-publication proof copies being sent to opinion-formers, trade-press advertising and an extensive publicity tour.

This does not mean that the book is secondary to the splash made by the publisher. "The whole bestseller thing is 70% the book and 30% marketing. It is a very collaborative process," says Victoria Routledge, a former editor at Headline. Now a bestselling novelist herself, she is busy promoting her third book, ... And for Starters, published this week.

That 30% of marketing includes in-house promotion. It is easy to spot publishers' lead titles before they appear in catalogues or on the sides of buses: the giveaway is what's known as the "in-house buzz". Without that, a book will not be a bestseller. "If you can make it work in-house big-time, you can make it work outside big-time," says Geoff Duffield, group marketing director at Orion, which publishes the biggest-selling author in the UK, Maeve Binchy. Duffield recalls the buzz at HarperCollins when the manuscript for Arundhati Roy's Booker-winner The God of Small Things came up for auction. "There was such energy in-house about that book when it came along. Immediately everyone read it, we felt that we were going to get this book whatever it took." It took a £150,000 advance, which led to blanket press coverage and enabled publicists to promote Roy to journalists when the book was published.

It also gave the trade early warning that the high advance would be matched by an equally impressive marketing budget: in-house buzz means that an author's book will receive support from sales, publicity and marketing departments. The energy generated by this buzz is aimed directly at key people in the trade, particularly book-buyers in major chains, who are wooed with corporate hospitality ranging from intimate dinners with authors to day trips. Recently buyers, including some from WHSmith, Books Etc and Waterstone's, were treated to a "Generation Game Day" hosted by Pan Macmillan, during which they played spin the plate and ice the cake under the gaze of Bruce Forsyth, whose autobiography Macmillan publishes this autumn. Faber took a group of booksellers to Damien Hirst's studio to meet the artist and Gordon Burn; their book On the Way to Work is published in October.

There is a temptation for would-be authors to think they can follow some formula to be a bestseller. But any literary agent will tell you that the notorious slush-pile of unsolicited manuscripts cluttering up a corner of the office is rich in novels mistakenly inspired by a scan along the bestseller shelves. Forget it, says agent Carole Blake of Blake Friedman. "If a writer sets out to fill a gap in the market they are in danger of writing something that'll hold no one, but if they have something they feel totally passionate about, then they stand some chance of being a bestseller."

If there is a key to bestselling success, it is that authors should be original and engage readers' emotions. Some might dismiss this after looking at the flood of me-too titles that follow in the wake of an original success, such as the hundreds of narrative non-fiction books published after Dava Sobel's Longitude, but what publishers are looking for are original voices.

Take crime fiction: the novels by Morse creator Colin Dexter and the much darker works of Ian Rankin both sell vast numbers in a very crowded market. Alan Samson, editorial director at Little, Brown, says publishers look for "star quality". That's what he found in crime writer Patricia Cornwell. "When we signed her up 20 years ago, the model for female crime writers was Sara Paretsky, but this author wrote about a woman doing ghastly things - it was really innovative."

Readers want to be engaged on an emotional level, be it by the suffering of Dave Pelzer's misery-fest memoirs, starting with A Child Called It, or through humour, as with McCarthy's Bar, by comedian and broadcaster Pete McCarthy, which knocked Pelzer off the number-one spot. It was a point driven home to McCarthy over lunch with publishers. "They said that if you can make people laugh out loud when they read your book, it will sell in large numbers, because few people can do that."

But fulfilling that brief was not enough in itself to take McCarthy's Bar to number one. Strong word-of-mouth was created through a clutch of good reviews and, most importantly, an author tour that took McCarthy from Cleethorpes to Tasmania, performing his act to small audiences in bookshops. He admits he found it depressing at first, but was quickly cheered when the 50 customers present would buy 80 copies of the book.

It is a rule that the authors who work hard as part of the publishing team are the most successful. This usually means going out on the road twice a year, doing author events and local and regional media to promote the hardback and paperback publication of their books. This is how Iain Banks, Terry Pratchett, Jilly Cooper and Maeve Binchy built up their huge - and loyal - fan bases.

That is the kind of hard work that pays for the mansion and the membership of Soho House, or makes you famous enough for Hello! to take an interest. As Carole Blake says: "Authors who want to have a career need to be professional about it. It is a business these days, and you do it a massive disservice as a writer if you don't take it seriously."


• Danuta Kean is news editor of The Bookseller.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Writer's Digest Book Expo - New York, NY

An exclusive insider's perspective on the business, as well as the art of authorship

Wednesday, June 1, 2005, from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, in New York City is the site of this year's conference, which is an official event of BookExpo America, the publishing world's biggest U.S. trade show, and the only event associated with the BEA that is open to the general public.

In just three short years, the BEA/Writer's Digest Books Writer's Conference has become one of the premier writing conferences in the country, with its wide variety of programming that includes workshops by leading authors, editors, agents and other industry professionals. Attendees can:

* Meet editors, authors, and agents. Hear what they're really buying and how to get work accepted
* Attend specific workshops, taught by industry professionals, that will help them get their writing published. Breakout sessions include workshops on fiction and non-fiction writing, magazine writing, mystery writing, proposals, e-queries and more
* Pitch their book and get instant feedback


One of the major highlights of the conference is the "Instant Pitch Session." One of the largest assembled gatherings of agents and editors will be at the conference to listen to book pitches and give instant feedback and solid advice. Conference attendees will find out how to find the right agent and what editors are buying. They will participate in Breakout Sessions, learning how to write effective queries and synopsis; create non-fiction book proposals; and package a book's marketing plan. They will pitch their own book proposals to the editors and agents on the panels and get instant feedback.

Registration can be made on-line at www.bookexpoamerica.com/writersconference. Registration fee is $169, which includes a free one-year subscription, or renewal, to Writer's Digest magazine!


Speakers


Authors, agents and other industry professionals confirmed for the conference are:

* Jonathan Karp, Senior Vice President, Editor-in-Chief of the Random House imprints within the Random House Publishing Group. He has edited some of the most widely read books of our time, including the #1 bestsellers, Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand and What Should I Do With My Life? by Po Bronson. He has also edited such writers as Mario Puzo, Molly Ivins, Kenneth Pollack, Susan Orlean, Mark Winegardner, and Christopher Buckley. Karp wrote the book and lyrics for the musical How to Save the World and Find True Love in 90 Minutes, which premiered in August 2004 at The New York International Fringe Festival.

* Noah Lukeman, President of Lukeman Literary Management Ltd, which he founded in 1996. His clients include winners of the Pulitzer Prize, American Book Award, Pushcart Prize and O. Henry Award, finalists for the National Book Award finalists, Edgar Award, and multiple New York Times bestsellers. He is the author of The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide to Staying out of the Rejection Pile and The Plot Thickens: 8 Ways to Bring Fiction to Life

* Heather Sellers, author of Page After Page (Writer's Digest Books). Ms. Sellers is an award-winning writer and professor who has taught writing workshops for the past twenty years and the director of the creative writing program at Hope College. She is the author of Drinking Girls and Their Dresses and Georgia Under Water, which was selected by Barnes & Noble for the 2001 “Discover Great New Writers” series. She is also the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in fiction. Her children's book, Cubby and Spike: Ice Cream Island Adventure, was published in the fall of 2004

* Michael Cader, president of Cader Books and the popular purveyor of publishing news with his daily email newsletter, Publishers Lunch

* Donald Maass, president of the Donald Maass Literary Agency in New York. Don is also the author of Writing the Breakout Novel (Writer's Digest Books).

* John Warner, is the editor of McSweeney’s Internet Tendency (www.mcsweeneys.net) and the co-author of My First Presidentiary: A Scrapbook by George W. Bush, which was a Washington Post paperback best seller for seven weeks, including one week at No. 1. His book, Sleeping with Oprah and Other Routes to Achieving Fame, Fortune and a #1 New York Times bestseller, will be published by Writer's Digest Books this fall.

* Jane Friedman, Executive Editor of Writer's Digest Books

* Lauren Mosko, editor of Novel & Short Stories Writer's Market

* Kristin D. Godsey, editor of Writer's Digest magazine, will also be among the panelists and moderators at the conference.

* Other authors in attendance include Elaura Niles, Some Writers Deserve to Starve; Robert Masello, Robert's Rules of Writing; Eric Maisel, A Writer's Paris; Nancy Kress, Write Great Fiction: Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint; and many others. The most anticipated writing conference of the year comes to the center of the publishing world – New York City – in 2005, when the BookExpo America/Writer's Digest Books Writer's Conference once again will present a full-day of programming designed to help writers improve their craft and get published.


The Writer's Digest Bookstore will be on-site with signings scheduled throughout the day and Writer's Digest Books' best-selling titles available.








 

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Plot Twists In Store (washingtonpost.com)

By David Segal
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, March 12, 2005; Page C01

BROOKLYN, N.Y.

Standing on a fashion show catwalk, Wendy Shanker is warming up a crowd that has come for an in-store glimpse of Macy's latest outfits for spring. At 5 feet 7 and 220 pounds, Shanker is not the sort of woman you typically associate with models or glamour or capri pants. She doesn't sound like one either.

"A lot of people don't like the word 'fat,' " she says into a microphone, on a makeshift runway set up in the women's department. "I'm fat. It doesn't describe who I am. I'm the same as everybody else. I just wear bigger pants."

"We're doing like a five- or six-city tour," says Wendy Shanker, author of "The Fat Girl's Guide to Life," of the dual book tour-Macy's plus-size fashion show, which arrives at Arlington at 2 p.m. today. (Helayne Seidman For The Washington Post)

This gets a chuckle from the audience, many of whom are just as big, or bigger. This is a plus-size fashion show, with models from size 14 on up. But this event is about more than just clothing in very generous proportions. It's also, weirdly enough, a book party, and Shanker is an author, doing what a woman has to do today to get her book sold.

Remainder of article at Washington Post linked by header.

Robert Lasner: The Death of the First Time Novel

14 March 2005 — Elisabeth Sifton, then Editor–in–Chief of Viking, wrote in the May 22, 1982 issue of The Nation that, "the average first novel sells only about 2,000 to 4,000 copies. This readership represents about .001 or .002 percent of the population." Combine those sobering sales statistics with last year's NEA report, "Reading at Risk," which showed a ten percent decline in literary readership since 1982, when Ms. Sifton made her comments, and it is clear that things are not going well for literary first fiction.

Click on the header link to read the rest of the article.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

BookAngst 101: Hoop Dreams*

[This edition contains a new "P.S." for our friendly neighborhood Grammar Cop]

"How will I know when they [Hyperion] feel good about their return on investment in me? My advance for this this three-book deal (it's the first in a planned urban trilogy) was quite fiscally responsible and fair from the publisher's perspective - and by that I mean nowhere close to quit-my-day-job numbers but solid in my eyes.(Then again, I am a teacher, so any dollars look like big dollars... LOL!)

"What I want to know is, HOW WILL I KNOW WHEN THEY FEEL LIKE I WAS A GOOD BUSINESS PARTNER? Is it sales and dollars? Is it cachet* and awesome publicity for the publishing house? Good reviews? What is the yardstick an author such as myself should be using?"

Steinbeck Quote

"When I face the desolate impossibility of writing 500 pages, a sick sense of failure falls on me, and I know I can never do it. Then gradually, I write one page and then another. One day's works is all I can permit myself to contemplate."

- John Steinbeck

Monday, March 14, 2005

Bad Mother

A site worth checking out. The author will be posting a series of articles to salon.com. In order to access salon.com as a non paying subscriber, you must watch an ad first. It's no big deal.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Science Fiction Writer Robert J. Sawyer: On Writing�� Heinlein's Rules

"ON WRITING"
by Robert J. Sawyer
Heinlein's Rules

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Copyright © 1996 by Robert J. Sawyer. All rights reserved.

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There are countless rules for writing success, but the most famous ones, at least in the speculative-fiction field, are the five coined by the late, great Robert A. Heinlein.

Heinlein used to say he had no qualms about giving away these rules, even though they explained how you could become his direct competitor, because he knew that almost no one would follow their advice.

In my experience, that's true: if you start off with a hundred people who say they want to be writers, you lose half of the remaining total after each rule — fully half the people who hear each rule will fail to follow it.

I'm going to share Heinlein's five rules with you, plus add a sixth of my own.

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Rule One: You Must Write

It sounds ridiculously obvious, doesn't it? But it is a very difficult rule to apply. You can't just talk about wanting to be a writer. You can't simply take courses, or read up on the process of writing, or daydream about someday getting around to it. The only way to become a writer is to plant yourself in front of your keyboard and go to work.

And don't you dare complain that you don't have the time to write. Real writers buy the time, if they can't get it any other way. Take Toronto's Terence M. Green, a high-school English teacher. His third novel, Shadow of Ashland, just came out from Tor. Terry takes every fifth year off from teaching without pay so that he can write; most writers I know have made similar sacrifices for their art.

(Out of our hundred original aspirant writers, half will never get around to writing anything. That leaves us with fifty . . .)

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Rule Two: Finish What Your Start

You cannot learn how to write without seeing a piece through to its conclusion. Yes, the first few pages you churn out might be weak, and you may be tempted to toss them out. Don't. Press on until you're done. Once you have an overall draft, with a beginning, middle, and end, you'll be surprised at how easy it is to see what works and what doesn't. And you'll never master such things as plot, suspense, or character growth unless you actually construct an entire piece.

On a related point: if you belong to a writers' workshop, don't let people critique your novel a chapter at a time. No one can properly judge a book by a piece lifted out of it at random, and you'll end up with all sorts of pointless advice: "This part seems irrelevant." "Well, no, actually, it's very important a hundred pages from now . . ."

(Of our fifty remaining potential writers, half will never finish anything — leaving just twenty-five still in the running . . .)

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Rule Three: You Must Refrain From Rewriting, Except to Editorial Order

This is the one that got Heinlein in trouble with creative-writing teachers. Perhaps a more appropriate wording would have been, "Don't tinker endlessly with your story." You can spend forever modifying, revising, and polishing. There's an old saying that stories are never finished, only abandoned — learn to abandon yours.

If you find your current revisions amount to restoring the work to the way it was at an earlier stage, then it's time to push the baby out of the nest.

And although many beginners don't believe it, Heinlein is right: if your story is close to publishable, editors will tell you what you have to do to make it salable. Some small-press magazines do this at length, but you'll also get advice from Analog, Asimov's, and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.

(Of our remaining twenty-five writers, twelve will fiddle endlessly, and so are now out of the game. Twelve more will finally declare a piece complete. The twenty-fifth writer, the one who got chopped in half, is now desperately looking for his legs . . .)

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Rule Four: You Must Put Your Story on the Market

This is the hardest rule of all for beginners. You can't simply declare yourself to be a professional writer. Rather, it's a title that must be conferred upon you by those willing to pay money for your words. Until you actually show your work to an editor, you can live the fantasy that you're every bit as good as Guy Gavriel Kay or William Gibson. But having to see if that fantasy has any grounding in reality is a very hard thing for most people to do.

I know one Canadian aspirant writer who managed to delay for two years sending out his story because, he said, he didn't have any American stamps for the self-addressed stamped envelope. This, despite the fact that he'd known dozens of people who went regularly to the States and could have gotten stamps for him, despite the fact that he could have driven across the border himself and picked up stamps, despite the fact that you don't even really need US stamps — you can use International Postal Reply Coupons instead, available at any large post office. [And those in Toronto can buy actual U.S. stamps at the First Toronto Post Office at 260 Adelaide Street South.]

No, it wasn't stamps he was lacking — it was backbone. He was afraid to find out whether his prose was salable. Don't be a coward: send your story out.

(Of our twelve writers left, half of them won't work up the nerve to make a submission, leaving just six . . .)


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Rule Five: You Must Keep it on the Market until it has Sold

It's a fact: work gets rejected all the time. Almost certainly your first submission will be rejected. Don't let that stop you. I've currently got 142 rejection slips in my files; every professional writer I know has stacks of them (the prolific Canadian horror writer Edo van Belkom does a great talk at SF conventions called "Thriving on Rejection" in which he reads samples from the many he's acquired over the years).

If the rejection note contains advice you think is good, revise the story and send it out again. If not, then simply turn the story around: pop it in the mail, sending it to another market. Keep at it. My own record for the maximum number of submissions before selling a story is eighteen — but the story did eventually find a good home. (And within days, I'd sold it again to a reprint-only anthology; getting a story in print the first time opens up whole new markets.)

If your story is rejected, send it out that very same day to another market.

(Still, of our six remaining writers, three will be so discouraged by that first rejection that they'll give up writing for good. But three more will keep at it . . .)

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Rule Six: Start Working on Something Else

That's my own rule. I've seen too many beginning writers labour for years over a single story or novel. As soon as you've finished one piece, start on another. Don't wait for the first story to come back from the editor you've submitted it to; get to work on your next project. (And if you find you're experiencing writer's block on your current project, begin writing something new — a real writer can always write something.) You must produce a body of work to count yourself as a real working pro. #

Of our original hundred wannabe writers, only one or two will follow all six rules. The question is: will you be one of them? I hope so, because if you have at least a modicum of talent and if you live by these six rules, you will make it.
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According to Maclean's: Canada's Weekly Newsmagazine, "By any reckoning Robert J. Sawyer is among the most successful Canadian authors ever." He has sold 15 novels to major U.S. publishers and received 25 national and international awards for his fiction, including the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America's Nebula Award for Best Novel of the Year, and the Crime Writers of Canada's Arthur Ellis Award for Best Short Story of the Year.

Rob has taught creative writing at the University of Toronto, Ryerson Polytechnic University, and the Banff Centre for the Arts.

Rob's upcoming writing workshops and courses

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Literary Agents | Interview with Donald Maass

I found this interview with Donald Maass. He's done a ton of interviews. This is, yet, another one. I didn't realize he once sported a beard.

Literary agents directory - find an agent

I had forgotten about this site until somebody contacted me about joining a writer's group in my area.

Apparently, I had added my name to the writer's directory, a long time ago, which is listed by state. Someone contacted me today by e-mail and said they had found my name on the internet. After breaking out in a sweat, I wrote the person back asking them how they found my name on the internet and she directed me to Writers.net.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Self-Promotion for the Emerging Writer

An article with helpful hints on book promotion.

Reporter's Desktop / By Duff Wilson

This site will make your head spin. *I'd really like to see that.*

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Arts | Word of mouth 'winner for books'

Another article supporting the premise that "word of mouth" sells books.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

The Independent Online Edition > Enjoyment

An article about book marketing and the premise that "nothing sells better than the recommendation of a friend or relative."

PublishAmerica Sting


PublishAmerica Sting


Would they publish the worst book ever written?
To dispel PublishAmerica's statements that they are a "traditional publisher" and claims that they inspect submitted books for quality like a true traditional publisher does, such as--
If indeed you have been dreaming of getting published, and you want us to review your work, please fill out the form below and let us know who you are and what you have written. Your manuscript will be reviewed by our Acquisitions staff, who will determine whether your work has what this book publisher is looking for.
-- http://www.publishamerica.com/authorinfo.htm
a collection of SFWA authors (and, ahem, non-authors) concocted to write a very poorly written book. Under "direction" of James D. Macdonald, each author was given minimal information from which to write a chapter (with no idea of the chapter's location in the book, time of year, background of the characters, what the plot was, etc.), and encouraged to write poorly. It's a truly awful book, a serious contender for Absolute Worst Book Ever Written. The result was submitted "for review" by PublishAmerica to see if "has what this book publisher is looking for." It did. :-) PublishAmerica offered a contract.
PublishAmerica will publish any work, regardless of quality, despite their claims.
Here's the book, "Atlanta Nights" by "Travis Tea" (say the author's name quickly...) Be aware, as Allen Steele has said, "A note of caution: reading this thing may cause temporary brain damage." :-)

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Heinlein's Prophetic First Novel, Lost and Found

Read the article about the discovery of Heinlein's first novel at the above link to the NY Times.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

New York Daily News - Business - Paul Colford's Hot Copy: Pulp revival gets lift from King novel

A New York publishing startup, bent on reviving the kind of dark pulp fiction popular in the '40s and '50s, has taken a giant step forward by adding Stephen King to its catalogue.

Read the article by clicking the title link to the NY Daily News.