Monday, August 3, 2009

July Links and Things

Since I just posted a new blog essay on the 31st, I thought I would wait a few days before posting July's links. And there are indeed a lot of them -- hopefully something to satisfy even those who think they've seen/read it all! In fact, to cut down on the number of these links in the months ahead, beginning this month (August, not July, as this is still July, so to speak) I'm no longer going to post any ongoing serializations. So if you are reading the serialized fiction being posted online by Cory Doctorow, Tim Pratt, Catherynne M. Valente, and John Shirley, then you may want to subscribe directly to those blogs/websites. I'll still tweet when new pieces are posted but I won't list them in my links listings in the future, only if it's a new serialization. You can receive all these links in real time by following me on Twitter. I have listed all of the July links here, all in one post, and with additional detail and comment.

The first July links entry is the publication of the reprint edition of author Judith Moffett's first novel, Pennterra. This was my first acquisition for Warren Lapine's Fantastic Books imprint, which, by the way, now has a new website. I had the pleasure of meeting Judith for the first time at ReaderCon in Boston last year, and we've become virtual friends, I guess you could say. Judith Moffett is not your typical SF author! She is an award-winning poet with a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania, a couple of Fulbrights under her belt, and grants from both the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts. She is also a world-class translator of Swedish poetry, who presented at the 1998 Nobel Symposium on Translation of Poetry and Poetic Prose. The list of accomplishments in her Wikipedia entry is awe-inspiring. When Pennterra was originally published in 1987, Nebula Award-winning author Michael Bishop wrote: "Stunning... the best first novel I have read in at least a decade... dangerous and breathtaking to behold." Ms. Moffett has a new novel available as well, Bird Shaman, that was published to coincide with her ReaderCon appearance; you can read about the new novel on her website and even order a signed and inscribed copy directly from the author (and at a discount, too). So am I plugging both of these books (and the author)? You betcha!

Here are the rest of my July links and things:
  • Author, geek, futurist Bruce Sterling gave the closing talk at June's Reboot 11 Conference. Video available. According to "In his closing talk from last month's Reboot conference in Copenhagen, Bruce Sterling guesses at what it will be like to live through the next ten years: 'It is neither progress nor conservatism because there's nothing left to conserve and no direction in which to progress. So what you get is transition. Transition to nowhere.'" Ya gotta love Bruce! (@bruces)

  • CrunchGear headline: "Indie Kindle author lands book deal." Boyd Morrison, self-published author of the Kindle ebook The Ark lands a two-book contract with publisher Simon & Schuster; the contract is for The Ark, to be published in hardcover in 2010, and the sequel. Morrison became a member of the Kindle Boards and did all his own self-promoting. This is the first reported instance of a self-published Kindle author scoring a book contract with a major publisher.

  • Author John C. Wright (The Golden Age et al.) shares his writerly expertise with new writers in his "Ten Commandments for How to be a Writer." Actually, there is an Eleventh Commandment that John refers to as the "unwritten rule": "When you get a rejection slip, be thankful." His insights on rejection slips are quite inspiring.

  • The Deadline Dames (@DeadlineDames) are a group of nine urban fantasy & paranormal romance authors. Dame Devon has posted an essay entitled "A Forest Full of Trees," in which she discusses rewriting/revising one's manuscript. Good stuff, for writers and editors both. She lists twenty-one "Big Picture Revision Questions" to ask yourself about your manuscript. #4: "Are the senses fully employed? (Sight, smell, touch, taste, sound)" #10: "Is the dialogue working to move the story forward in ways the narrative can't?"

  • Author Holly Lisle's (@hollylisle) blog provides a lot of step-by-step material for writers. A recent entry, "How To Create a Character," lists six bullet points, followed by a lengthy discussion on -- you guessed it -- character creation. The last bullet point is: "Do write from your own life." At the end of this blog post, you'll find a link to a "Character Creation Workshop," which links to a "Dialogue Workshop," which links to a "Maps Workshop," which links to a "Scene Creation Workshop"... Also at the end of the "How to Create a Character" post is another link on "How To Finish a Novel," which links to "How To Revise a Novel," which links to "How To Collaborate," etc. You get the idea. You could probably spend days, if not weeks, on this site.

  • Author Kim Wilkins steps us through "The Science of [Self-] Editing" -- the author doesn't include the word "self" in the blog title, but I feel the need to do so, since "self-editing" is far different from what I term "editing." Regardless of the nuances, Kim has some good stuff to say about the self-editing process: "For those of you embarking on a self-edit, the most important thing to remember is to be methodical and detached.... I do this, all the while imagining that I'm not the person who has to fix it. Makes it far less overwhelming (though a little more pathological)." She goes on to explain her own [self-]editing process.

  • In my previous Links & Things post I mentioned UK author Patrick Ness, who won the UK Guardian Children's Fiction Prize and the Booktrust Teenage Prize for his young adult novel The Knife of Never Letting Go. I just learned that, at the same website where he previously published his new short story, he's also been posting a series of writing tips. The current tip, number 6, is called "Freedom from tyranny" in which he poses the question: "Have you thought about making [writing] even harder? Have you thought about setting yourself a limitation, something that curtails the number of choices you can make?" On the same page, within the left sidebar, are links to the previous five writing tips, which include: 1--Getting started; 2--Laying out a structure; 3--On when to be read; 4--Compare and despair; and 5--Finding time to write.

  • Alan Rinzler is an Executive Editor at Jossey-Bass/John Wiley & Sons and also works privately as a developmental editor with selected authors. For those considering working with (read: hiring) an editor, you need to read his essay "Choosing a freelance editor: What you need to know." Rinzler defines a "developmental editor" as someone who "works with a writer to improve the basic concept of the book, the way it's focused and structured, the style and attitude of the narrative voice, whether it's fiction or non-fiction." He quotes from a letter that editor Maxwell Perkins wrote to author Thomas Wolfe (Perkins had also worked with F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway, among others) in 1937 when the two were struggling over the length of Wolfe's second novel Of Time and the River: "'But…unless you want help it will certainly not be thrust upon you… I believe the writer, anyway, should always be the final judge. I have always held to that position… The book belongs to the author.'" I couldn't agree more, and I have often used the words "it's your book" to many an author.

  • John Matthew Fox (@bookfox) shares "Ten Guidelines for Structuring a Short Story Collection." He quotes a couple of authors, including Benjamin Percy, whose short story collection Refresh, Refresh was longlisted for the 2008 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award. He also describes five story structuring/ordering methods from author David Jauss: "The placement of a story in a collection can alter both its meaning and its affect." If you're an editor (authors, too) responsible for determining the stories to be included in a collection and the ordering of those stories, you will find something of value in this article.

  • Andrew Wheeler, former editor for the Science Fiction Book Club (for sixteen years!) and currently Marketing Manager for John Wiley & Sons, teaches us "Book Marketing 101." The "Introduction" deals with "sales channels": online and brick & mortar book stores, big-box stores, mass merchandisers, affinity organizations, and more. The second entry deals primarily with "" and includes a discussion (and screen shots) of their co-op program, data mining, search engine optimization, tags and tagging, and reviews. (via @charlesatan) And what appears to be the third and final part deals with "Co-op at the Chains."

  • Also in my previous Links and Things post I had an entry on a new online literary fiction magazine entitled Electric Literature. Here's a follow-up piece by Ron Charles (@roncharles) in the Washington Post in which he provides some background on the magazine and it's two founders. Charles writes: "And it's not just MFA kids self-publishing their diatribes against Mom and Dad. The first issue sports stories by such heavyweights as Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Cunningham and National Book Award finalist Jim Shepard.... At the moment, they're thinking big -- 20,000 circulation -- and why not? They're off to a good-looking start."

  • Nick Mamatas, who describes himself on his LJ as a writer of "books and articles and stories and shit. Lots of shit," has written a no-holds-barred series on "How to Find Freelance Writing Work." Part I deals with publishable work; Nick writes: "This isn't about making a living as a freelance writer, which is more difficult right now as ad buys are drying up and content [is] migrating online in some poorly modeled ways, but about getting some money. This is also aimed at people in science fiction, who thanks to the raft of 'writer-friendly' submission guidelines and close community ties between periodicals and would-be writers, have been reduced as a labor pool to a bunch of mewling infants unable to bathe themselves without triple-checking LiveJournal and begging advice from their Clarion teachers and Twittering about how hard everything is." Did I say no-holds-barred? And Part II deals with writing for non-publication, like for friends and neighborhood clubs and businesses, etc.

  • Author Kristine Kathryn Rusch continues her online Freelancer's Survival Guide with "Money" (Parts 4 through 7). Part 4 covers profits [since we all make so very little of it]. "If you have what you believe to be a short-term net profit: 1. set aside your taxes; 2. save for future emergencies; 3. reinvest in your business; 4. stash the remaining money in a low-risk investment, maybe even something liquid." For the sake of brevity, I'm linking to Part 4 only; if you have been reading this series, you'll obviously be able to find the remaining three "Money" entries on Kris's blog as well.

  • Author Dean Wesley Smith continues his "Life After" series with a new entry on "Life After Copyright": "So, if suddenly anything ever written and anything new that is written had no one controlling all the rights and no requirement for license to use, we would have exactly what I am suggesting in Life After Copyrights. Writers could no longer make a living.... No protection, no money. No ownership either. Copyright is like a property law (with some differences)."

  • Every Monday, author Catherynne M. Valente posts another chapter in her serialized, reader-supported novel The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. An audio download of the chapter is also available. Check my previous Links & Things entries for more on this novel. I'm posting Chapter 4 only here, though the novel now has seven chapters available.

  • Also on Mondays, author Tim Pratt posts a new chapter in his serialized, reader-supported Marla Mason novella entitled "Bone Shop." At the end of each chapter there is a link to "trivia and authorial blather" about said chapter. Again, check my previous Links & Things entries for more on this novella. Tim has posted 5 chapters, here's the link to Chapter 2.

  • Author Cory Doctorow announced that will be serializing his forthcoming novel Makers every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (beginning July 6) in a total of eighty-one parts. What is unique about this serialization is that each part will be accompanied by an illustration by Idiots' Books, which will interconnect with other illustrations in the series. According to Tor: "...after we've posted a number of tiles, we'll release a Flash game in which users will be able to re-arrange the illustration tiles on a grid and create their own combination of layouts." Makers will be published in hardcover in November, and the serialization is scheduled to be completed in January 2010. Doctorow writes: "Makers tells the story of a group of hardware hackers who fall in with microfinancing venture capitalists and reinvent the American economy after a total economic collapse, and who find themselves swimming with sharks, fighting with gangsters, and leading a band of global techno-revolutionaries. The first 50,000 words of Makers were serialized on Salon some years ago under the title 'Themepunks.'" Here's Makers, Part 1; you're on your own for the remaining 80 parts!

  • Author John Shirley's new space opera novel, Sky Pirates -- "an homage to Jack Vance, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Rafael Sabatini's Captain Blood" -- is being serialized online, courtesy of The FREEzine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Sixteen parts have been posted so far; here's the link to Part 1. John Shirley is known for his horror writing as well as his cyberpunk work (particularly the Eclipse trilogy), and his short stories, like those found in collection Heatseeker.

  • And last, but certainly not least: Novelist and passionate print defender Nicholson Baker takes a literary look at the future of reading in a critical piece in the August 3, 2009, New Yorker entitled "A New Page: Can the Kindle really improve on the book?" Baker explains why he ordered a Kindle, and then tells of its arrival and packaging. He reads a few texts, as does his son; he even goes into the history of the e-reader and the company E Ink. But when it comes to the e-books available for the Kindle, Baker is extremely unhappy and dissatisfied: there's no Nabokov, no Pynchon, no Tim O'Brien, no World According to Garp, no Catch-22, no Breakfast at Tiffany's, no Portnoy's Complaint, no Henry and Clara, no Edwin Mullhouse, no Clockwork Orange. He describes cookbooks with no photographs of the dishes being prepared, even though Amazon uses the same book reviews from the print version, which refer to the pictures, for the ebook version. And when pictures are present, they're difficult to see, even if one enlarges the graphic. (via

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