Friday, April 17, 2009

Mid-April Links & Things

These links are from my previous tweets so far this month. I've listed them here, all in one post, and with additional detail (and occasional editorial comment, since I am an editor!). This allows me to have a somewhat permanent file of all these links. And hopefully you'll find something of interest here, especially if you're not following me on Twitter.

I originally planned to post "Links & Things" just once each month, but there have been so many (too many!) links that I've accumulated up to this point in April -- 18 so far -- that I wanted to post these now before the number became too overwhelming.

  • Carol A. Buchanan's self-published novel God's Thunderbolt: The Vigilantes of Montana (BookSurge LLC) wins a major literary award: the 2009 Western Writers of America SPUR Award for best first novel. Details are available in Self-Publishing Review; and you can read further on the 2009 SPUR Awards.

    The SPR piece poses these questions and comments: Where was BookSurge is owned by Amazon, yet until Ms. Buchanan posted her blog entry about the award on Amazon, there was no mention anywhere of the book having won this award. Isn't Amazon in the business of selling books?

  • Writing Forward blog: "18 Do-it-Yourself Proofreading Tips." (courtesy of @nickdaws)

  • Charlie Jane Anders on io9 writes: "What's the Difference Between Story and Plot?" with quotes from Samuel Delany and Connie Willis. The article is interspersed with wonderful cover art from Famous Fantastic Mysteries magazine. And there's a lot of reader feedback in the "Comments" section, too.

  • Author Angela Slatter blogs about "Stray Thoughts on Long Sentences," quoting quite nicely from works by "Captain" Jeff VanderMeer. One of her concluding comments, which is a personal favorite of mine as well, is: "'s fine to break the rules, to do something new, but man, shouldn't you know what the rules are first?" (via

  • Richard Metzger, guest blogging on, shares a YouTube video of the Clio Award-winning Luden's Cough Drops commercial from 1967 with a Frank Zappa soundtrack. (Don't expect to actually hear any "music" -- this is Frank Zappa, remember!)

    I realize I'm dating myself here, but I've probably seen Zappa perform live more than any other band or musician: Zappa and the Mothers, Zappa with Flo & Eddie, Zappa solo; concerts at the Shrine Exposition Hall, the Anaheim Convention Center, University of Southern Cal, UCLA. During one concert at the Shrine, Zappa and the Mothers' performance was interrupted when this tall, lanky dude walked on stage carrying a guitar; he had longish wavy hair, and was wearing leather pants and vest, if I remember correctly (you know what they say about the '60s...). Anyhow, I didn't recognize him but he and Frank certainly played well together; and just as anonymously, he walked off the stage when the tune was over. Then Frank spoke into the microphone: "Let's have a big hand for Eric Clapton!"

  • U.S. Immigration Services wants to deport author and futurist Bruce Sterling's wife, Jasmina Tesanovic, to Serbia because the couple, though married now for four years, don't have the "normal" paper trail of a married couple -- so the authorities believe their marriage is a phony "green card marriage." Bruce and Jasmina have separate bank accounts, separate health insurance, separate properties -- each in their respective countries. If you know the couple, if you have seem them together, they are asking for your help. Bruce's blog on is a great read, with photos of the happily married couple and even of their marriage license! A link at the top of the blog provides a template their lawyer put together that you can use to help them document their marriage. (Unfortunately, I haven't seen Bruce, or Jasmina, since their marriage, so I am of little help.)

  • From the Wall Street Journal online: "Lost in Fiction: Alexander McCall Smith on the intense personal relationships readers form with characters and the ways that complicates the lives of authors." Smith writes a great piece on how characters -- and authors -- have been affected, both good and bad, by fan influence. She writes: "In another novel, I had Isabel Dalhousie give up breastfeeding rather too quickly for the liking of the leader of a pro-breastfeeding organization. Again I was told that I should make a public apology to those who believed in persisting with breastfeeding. That sort of thing is quite alarming, and it is such people who need to be told, politely but firmly, that it is just a story."

  • BookEnds, LLC -- A Literary Agency, sponsored "agentfail" on April 1, allowing authors to sound off for a day about agents. As an author, if you've had your share of issues with agents, you may want to read what other authors had to say. As of this posting, there are 307 comments!

  • The Creative Pen Blog: "Book Trailers: 11 steps to make your own" -- pretty basic stuff, using Microsoft MovieMaker, but still a worthwhile read if you're new to the process of book trailers. Also some good info (including in the "Comments" section) about where to upload vids, available music and images online, etc.

  • Rachelle Gardner's blog "rants & ramblings: on life as a literary agent" has posting "10 Things to Expect from an Agent" (and also what not to expect). If you're in need of an agent, here are some ground rules on which to base your search. If you already have an agent, how does yours stack up to these expectations? (via agent @ColleenLindsay)

  • Author Kristine Kathryn Rusch is posting her Freelancer's Survival Guide for free on her blog (though donations are being accepted). Kris writes in her Introduction: "The book hasn't sold. I haven't tried to sell it. I haven't even written it yet. In fact, the book hasn't been much more than a glimmer in my eye for a decade. But now's the time to do this project.... The global economic crisis has put tens of thousands of people out of work. Some will regain their old jobs. Some will train for new jobs. And some will attempt to freelance.... So what I'm going to do is write a guide for freelancers and I'm going to post it, section by section, on my website." You can read the Introduction, which links to the other sections currently available: "Priorities," "Workspace," and "Illness"; read the comments, too. Check back at Kris's blog regularly for new additions to the Guide (or sign up for the RSS feed).

  • From the Brockville Recorder and Times: A book that has been past due for 110 years from Canada's Lyn Public Library has finally been returned by a descendent of the man who had originally checked out the book in 1899. The past due fee of $9,000.00 was waived, since the library was so happy to have the book returned: the five-inch-thick leather-bound copy of Webster's Dictionary, which had been purchased new by the library at that time. The book is now housed in the Lyn Heritage Place Museum. (via @roncharles)

  • Dave Arneson, the co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons, passed away on April 7 at age 61. (Gary Gygax, the other co-creator, passed away on March 4, 2008, at age 69.) Bruce Baugh has written an excellent piece on on Arneson and how D&D came to be. Worth reading for inspiration, even if you're not a gamer.

  • Self-Publishing Review has "Self-Publishing in the Blogosphere" with some follow-up to a recent CNN report on self-publishing. Henry Baum, the author of the blog post, also has some follow-up to Victoria Strauss's (Writer Beware blog) follow-up to the CNN piece -- and Victoria responds in the "Comments" section. (Did you follow all of that?) Anyhow, it's a good, thoughtful piece on the current status of self-publishing.

  • GalleyCat: Now, the equivalent of an Internet Movie Database for Books! currently has digital records for 4.2 million books that have been collected from 10 million different sources. I looked up two anthologies that I co-edited, found both titles listed.

  • Author Dean Wesley Smith blogs a thoughtful piece entitled "Paying the Price: Taxes & Friends" in which he discusses being a full-time writer, maintaining files for tax purposes, writing time versus family and friends time, and exercising (so that you will be writing later in life).

  • Excellent review of Andrew Fox's The Good Humor Man, Or Calorie 3501 by Susan Larson in the New Orleans Times-Picayune. After a couple not-so-positive reviews of the book we were all wondering if maybe reviewers just weren't experienced enough to "get it"! And then Susan Larson proves why she's the newspaper's Books Editor; thank you, Susan! Her review header reads: "Elvis meets Fahrenheit 451 in Andrew Fox's new novel."

  • After watching my bank interest rates in the past year go from 2.46% to 0.68% to – Are you ready for this? – 0.01%, I felt it was time to draft an email to the CBS-5 TV (San Francisco) Consumer Watch advocate, Sue Kwon, to complain. Ms. Kwon had been reporting recently on the increased fees and minimum payements on consumer credit cards, and here was another issue that I wanted to bring to her attention. The day after I sent the email, I received a phone call from one of her assistants, asking me if I would like to be interviewed on this matter, to which I readily agreed. The next day an interviewer and cameraman showed up at my residence; I was asked a few questions to which I responded at length; the cameraman filmed me in my inner sanctum (which rarely any human -- other than my wife -- ever gets to see), working at my desk and on the computer. The interview and filming lasted just over an hour. The video that appeared on the Friday, April 10, 5:00 evening news lasted maybe two minutes, of which one of those minutes was of yours truly. I did a lot of rambling in response to the questions, so a tip of the hat to the person who edited all the video and allowed me to appear somewhat coherent! You can read the accompanying article and also watch the Consumer Watch segment that appeared on the evening news.

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