Sunday, June 14, 2009

Mid-June Links & Things

These links are from my previous tweets to date for the 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 especially wanted to post now, before Monday, June 15, because of the very first entry that follows:

  • Author Catherynne M. Valente is in a bit of a financial difficulty. As a way of earning some income, she has decided to write a much-requested novel, and post chapters online every Monday beginning June 15. Ms. Valente writes on her blog: "Over the course of the Palimpsest [Bantam Books, 2009] tour, people asked me one thing more than anything else. What about The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland? Is it a real book? Will you write it? And I said no. It's impossible, a YA book that is a book-within-a-book in a deeply non-YA novel. I even said no to a very sweet six-year-old.... [But] Starting Monday, I will start posting chapters of a full-length novel version of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. I will be writing it in real time, posting every Monday. It will be free to read -- but please know that the sheer calories to make my brain create it require funding, and I would very much appreciate your support. Pay whatever you like for it, whatever you think it's worth. It's kind of like an old-fashioned rent party.... This is a book about a little girl named September who gets herself a ticket to Fairyland on the back of The Green Wind and a somewhat cranky Leopard. There she discovers the realm of the capricious Marquess and the dangers of the Perverse and Perilous Sea. It is going to be something else. And yes, you can read it to your kids."

    Ms. Valente is also the author of the two-volume The Orphan's Tales series (In the Night Garden and In the Cities of Coin and Spice), which as a whole or in part won the 2006 James Tiptree Jr. Award and the 2008 Mythopoeic Award, and was a finalist for the 2007 World Fantasy Award.

  • "In the parodic future dystopia of Andrew Fox's The Good Humor Man [Tachyon Publications] (whose influences include classics like Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 and a lot of mid-20th-century popular culture/kitsch), there's a major government clampdown on all fattening foods, which naturally generates both a thriving black market and a force like sanctioned vigilantes dedicated to stamping out such villainy. First-person narrator Dr. Louis Schmalzberg, a former liposuctionist and founder of this movement, ironically dubbed Good Humor Men, has begun to lose his faith in their brutal raids on ordinary citizens who just happen to have a sweet tooth. He also feels some nostalgia for the lost days of Fat America: jumbo cars, supersized meals, McMansions, singers like Fats Waller, Fats Domino and, toward the end of his career, Fat Elvis....Going beyond the wonderfully irreverent parodic horror of his 'Fat White Vampire' books into new realms of farce and social satire, Fox also tackles the SF thriller mode with panache. Can Elvis's belly fat save the world? Read it and see!" – Faren Miller, Locus magazine, June 2009.

  • "Everything You Need to Know About Self-Publishing" by the Writer's Digest staff. This information changes constantly, but as of May 1, 2009, this is what WD had to say about the subject matter. The 8 topics include: The Truth About Self-Publishing; The Reality of Self-Publishing: An Agent's Perspective; What Can Your Publisher Do for You?; Book Publishing Stats (2009); An Insider's Look at Self-Publishing; How to Create a Cover Package; 2009 Directory of Self-Publishing Companies; and Future Self-Publishing Models.

  • Dave Eggers, the McSweeney's magnate, gave a speech at the Authors Guild in Manhattan where he offered an email address where folks could contact him if they were ever losing faith, despairing, that print media was dying. John Lingan, of, contacted Eggers at that email addy and received a form letter in which Eggers stated: "As long as newspapers offer less each day -- less news, less great writing, less graphic innovation, fewer photos -- then they're giving readers few reasons to pay for the paper itself." However, Lingan, in his article entitled "Dave Eggers and The Myth of Print's Importance," argues that "Dave Eggers, insofar as can be gleaned from this email, has his head up his ass with regards to the decline of print media." Lingan concludes his piece with: "Let the medium die; it's the writing that matters."

  • Here's a lovely and wonderful tribute to the oddball characters who frequent bookstores: "An Example Remembered" by Brad Craft: "It is not the delusional or the frighteningly unhappy I am thinking of just here, rather it is the gentler folk for whom the bookstore is a quiet refuge."

    And while I'm at it, I'd like to recommend a story by
    Jeff VanderMeer entitled "Greensleeves," though it is about the oddball characters who frequent a library, rather than a bookstore. "Greensleeves" was included in Jeff's collection Secret Life (Golden Gryphon Press, 2004); the story was originally published in Pulphouse: A Fiction Magazine, August 1992. Since it's an older story, possibly if readers bug Jeff enough, he'll post the story electronically.

  • Rick Kleffel's "The Agony Column" commentary for 06-01-09 on "Mark Teppo's Lightbreaker: Cracking the Codex of Souls": "It's steeped in a dense mythology the author uses to transform and subvert the mystery genre into something both tougher and more fun. Markham [Lightbreaker protagonist] is a great guide to Teppo's universe, which feels appropriately Hermetic, self-sealed and internally consistent. Teppo has clearly done his research, but more importantly, he enjoyed it, and readers will get that sense of joy and exploration. And dread and terror, and tension... with some release, though what happens when you release the soul from the body is perhaps less beneficent for both than you might imagine. And like any good book it just might change your perceptions forever, every time you hear the phrase 'free soul.' Freedom cuts two ways. It's a sharp knife."

  • And speaking of author Mark Teppo [I'll be blogging about working with Mark on Lightbreaker in the near future], Night Shade Books interviews Mark Teppo upon the release of his novel Lightbreaker: Book One of the Codex of Souls. On research: "...there’s an entire six-foot-tall IKEA bookcase next to my desk that is filled with primary source magick books. Another one on the other side of the room is devoted to comparative religion, cultural anthropology, and all the stuff that would be classified as secondary source. A good deal of which I haven’t read all the way through, but it’s right there when I need an answer to something."

  • I've been sharing these links with you since April: Author Kristine Katheryn Rusch is writing an online Freelancer's Survival Guide, and is posting weekly entries; the latest subject is "Discipline." Kris writes: "So what is it that makes some people work hard at their freelance careers while others work hard enough to get by or can't figure out a way to work at all? It's not discipline. It's figuring out how to get yourself to work Seriously. What gets most people to their day jobs isn't the job. It's the money they get from the job, money that lets them pay the bills and support their family. Sure, a handful like their work, but most like the paycheck and benefits better...."

    And the next installment to the online Freelancer's Survival Guide:
    "Money, Part One." "You need to figure out what you want out of life, out of your freelancing, and out of your finances. That's the first step in this money discussion."

  • Author Eric Barnes, whose novel Shimmer has just been published, blogs about his writing process, receiving a thousand-plus rejection letters, finally getting published, and the very long wait. "Because although nearly 200 publications have said no to my stories, although at least 100 different book editors said no to my manuscripts, after all that one editor said yes. To my novel, Shimmer. One publisher accepted my book. And so it will be published.... And so that one yes, that acceptance, it in a sense makes everyone else wrong. It makes them irrelevant."

  • Agent Colleen Lindsay interviews Ron Hogan, senior editor at GalleyCat [where I get a ton of my information and resources] and founder of the reading series. Colleen asks Ron about the new Center for Fiction Writers' Conference, a conference he organized for the Mercantile Library and Fordham University's creative writing program. Ron also talks about the current state of publishing. "...publishing is a crucial part of a literary-industrial complex I value greatly, and I am genuinely optimistic that somebody will figure out how to make this all work. Yes, the biggest publishers in New York are worried because they've come up against the limits of their old business strategies... But I've said it over and over: Publishing is not just New York."

  • Dean Wesley Smith gives us Part Two on his essay series: "Life After Returns" in which he discusses the book- and magazine-selling trade. Dean writes: "For the most part, magazines are paid for by ads and all a publisher of a magazine is interested in is how many copies they ship out and have sitting on the stands. That's the number they tell their advertisers and how they set their ad rates. Also understand that when you are standing in line at a grocery store, every magazine you see in line has paid the store and the distributor for the spot. The closer to the cash register, the more expensive the spot.... The advertisers don't care how many magazines actually sell, they just care about the placement and how many are shipped; and the stores don't care about how many are sold, they just want their fee for the spot"

  • In the style of the History Channel's Life After People series, author Dean Wesley Smith begins another new blog series entitled "Life After Agents." In Part One, Dean writes: "Agents are employees of writers. Now, let me say that again simply because many, many newer writers are confused at this moment in time about what an agent is. An agent is a writer's employee. They are not a salvation, they are not a god to be worshiped, they can't write you a check for your book, and they earn all their money from you. They are an employee. Nothing more. They work for you and do what you ask and if they don't, like any employee, they should be fired. They do not run your business, you do.... Interesting isn't it how this industry has gotten sort of screwed up? Bookstore owners take no responsibility for their own inventory with the return system and publishers take no responsibility for their own slush piles." Read on; another great blog series from Dean.

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