Monday, August 2, 2010

July Links & Things

I've lost a week of work this month with a trip to Southern Cal to visit the mum in hospital rehab. She entered the hospital the morning of Friday, July 9 (about the time I arrived in Boston for Readercon), and she should be home, finally, by the end of this week. Then we'll have to see how she does on her own, though I suspect she'll have some in-home care for at least the first week.

Thus my recap of July's Links & Things will have less entries than normal due to time constraints. I do want you to know that I review all the links I pass on to ensure that they will be worth the time spent to read them (or in the case of video, to view them); if my readers aren't going to gain something that I feel is of value, then I don't include the link. It's as simple as that. Of course, I do have my own personal preferences and prejudices, but then who doesn't?

So, here are my links and such for the month of July. I've listed them here, with a bit of additional detail and comment. You can receive these links in real time by following me on Twitter: @martyhalpern.

  • reviews Hespira, the third volume in Matthew Hughes' Henghis Hapthorn series, which I edited for Night Shade Books; the first two volumes in the series are Majestrum (2006) and The Spiral Labyrinth (2007). In his review, John DeNardo writes: "...Hughes' writing style is the real star, using a pitch-perfect delivery of stylistic prose that sets the mood and dry humor that is sure to elicit a few smiles.... The usual caveat of a latter-series novel applies here: you do not need to read the previous Henghis Hapthorn stories to enjoy Hespira, but you will gain even more enjoyment out of it if you do."
  • Of all the books that I've edited over the years, the most-reviewed are undoubtedly the Laundry Files titles by Charles Stross: The Atrocity Archives (2004) and The Jennifer Morgue (2006), both from Golden Gryphon Press, and the recently published The Fuller Memorandum from Ace Books. I could fill an entire blog post with blurbs from all the TFM reviews I've read over the past two or so weeks, but for the sake of brevity, I'll only refer you to one of those reviews, which I felt was especially astute and articulate -- and that would be the review by Russell Letson, posted on Locus online on July 16, 2010. I've linked to the review for your reading pleasure, but what I wanted to do here was include a quote from the novel itself that Russell quoted in his review. Here are geekish demonology hacker extraordinaire Bob Howard's thoughts on the iPhone: "About the only smart phone that doesn’t stink like goose shit is the JesusPhone. But I've steadfastly refused to join the Cult of Jobs ever since I saw the happy-clappy revival tent launch." Unfortunately, before too long, Bob succumbs to the shiny. [I've written a lengthy blog post about my working with Charlie Stross on this series.]
  • New eBook publisher Weightless Books (catch phrase: Books That Don't Weigh You Down) -- a branch, or subsidiary, or imprint, or whatever of Small Beer Press -- has published an eBook of the definitive edition of Judith Moffett's first novel Pennterra. This is the edition of Pennterra that Judith and I worked on over a period of weeks last year (published in a trade paperback edition in 2009 by Fantastic Books) to ensure that it was indeed the definitive version. And while you're at it, you may as well snag the eBook edition of her latest novel, The Bird Shaman, volume three in her Holy Ground Trilogy; but as with volume three of the Hughes trilogy above, you do not need to read the previous two volumes to enjoy The Bird Shaman.

    If you're into physical books, you can also purchase a signed (or signed and inscribed) copy of The Bird Shaman direct from the author's website. [And last, but certainly not least, you can read my earlier blog post on Judith Moffett and her various books and stories.]
  • As long-time readers here know, I'm a fan of the axed-by-Fox-before-its-time TV series Firefly. Well, (@io9) felt that the introductory credits sequence that opened Firefly needed a bit of sprucing up. To use io9's words: the intro needed "a kick-ass, old-school, synth-happy, guitar-solo" and "Spaceships, 1980s-style." So, click the io9 link above, click the vid, sit back, and enjoy. Oh, and turn the sound up on your monitor! (via @charliejane)

  • When you think about it, why should the United States Postal Service be any different from any other government agency (or public utility, but don't get me started on that!): the post office complains constantly about the loss of mail because people are using the internet more, etc. And still, the USPS wants to cut more services and raise rates. If they have less work load, shouldn't there also be a coinciding reduction in their own costs? If they want more customers, shouldn't they be adding new services? I'll admit I'm not an accounting genius, but still.... So the USPS wants to raise rates on January 1, 2011, with the brunt of that rate increase directed toward magazines. The Affordable Mail Alliance group -- which includes the Magazine Publishers of America -- is fighting this proposed rate hike. If you subscribe to any print magazines, whether they are genre or nongenre, your subscription rates will inevitably increase if this rate hike goes into effect. In fact, some magazines simply won't survive this rate increase. (via
  • From's eBooknewser (@ebooknewser): "Good news for independent authors. EBook community Wattpad has partnered with eBook publishing and distribution platform Smashwords. Both services are free for authors, who can use Wattpad to build a community and Smashwords to self-publish and sell works. Under the terms of the agreement, Wattpad and Smashwords will cross-promote each other and they will integrate services. Wattpad gets about 10 million visits a month, which could mean a pretty big audience for an indie writer."

    And that's the extent of the eBooknewser article itself. However, you may want to check it out nonetheless because there are some interesting comments, including one from Wattpad CEO and co-founder Allen Lau. If you are a self-published author, or have plans to become one, you'll want to delve further into the services that both Wattpad and Smashwords have to offer.
  • So, you really do want to self-publish. Then you had best consider the expense of hiring a qualified editor to work on your manuscript before you publish it. And by "qualified editor," I'm not referring to your parents, or your college-graduate sibling, or your best friend, or the neighbor across the street who seems to know what she's talking about. I don't even recommend teaming up with another author, so that each critiques the other's manuscript. (Why don't I recommend this? Because you each have a personal stake in those edits -- if you edit too harshly, then you'll worry that your partner will do likewise to your ms.) And if you don't believe that your ms. needs editing, then I suggest you read this blog post on Self-Publishing Review (@selfpubreview) entitled "On Editing," from a reader who plunked down $3.99 for an ebook for volume one of a self-published science fiction trilogy. Trust me, this reader won't be purchasing volumes two and three. There are also 15 Comments, including two from yours truly.
  • I recently learned about this website: Write NonFiction Now! The blog owner is Nina Amir (@NinaAmir), but Sue Collier (@SueCollier) provides a guest post entitled "Why You Shouldn't Publish Your Manuscript Without an Editor." Sue provides some solid reasons why editing is crucial, but more important, she defines the three levels of editing: developmental editing, substantive editing, and copy editing. Nina also provides a link to another related post entitled "How Does a Professional Editor Work with a Writer." So you can consider this link a two-fer. The only caveat? Nina is in the business of selling her own editorial services, so keep that in the back of your mind when you read her blog.
  • Ever have any doubts when you begin a new writing project? Or do your words just flow naturally from pen (or pencil) to paper, or from fingertips to keyboard to screen? On her blog helluo librorum (Latin for "a devourer of books, a bookworm"), author Teresa Frohock (@TeresaFrohock) shares with us her "twelve stages of writing," which may or may not be similar to your own depending on what type of writer you are. Here's her Stage 5: "I begin writing the scene, each night rereading what I'd written the night before and grooming the prose to capture my protagonist's voice. On the fifth night, I reread my work and realize I have written approximately 1,300 words of shite." If this sounds familiar to you, I suspect you'll enjoy reading all twelve stages. (via @elizabethscraig @AdviceToWriters)
  • Another new website for editors (by editors) that I've recently discovered is called The Awl. Guest blogger Lori Fradkin, formerly of New York Magazine, shares her thoughts and experiences on "What It's Really Like To Be A Copy Editor." Lori writes of her experiences working on the NY: "The word is douche bag. Douche space bag. People will insist that it's one closed-up word—douchebag—but they are wrong. When you cite the dictionary as proof of the division, they will tell you that the entry refers to a product women use to clean themselves and not the guy who thinks it's impressive to drop $300 on a bottle of vodka. You will calmly point out that, actually, the definition in Merriam-Webster is 'an unattractive or offensive person' and not a reference to Summer's Eve. They will then choose to ignore you and write it as one word anyway." Of course, by the end of the article, Lori's no longer with NY mag, and thus she doesn't care any longer how "douche bag" is spelled. If you have similar experiences as a copy editor (my preferred form is the compound "copyeditor"), then you'll enjoy this piece, including the 150 Comments as of this writing. (via @copyediting @gabrielle_h)
  • Every so often I'll be in need of a short story, either for reference, or for inclusion in a collection or anthology, or simply to read. I know I don't have the original publication of the story, but perhaps it's in one of my volumes of Dozois' Year's Best Science Fiction. Now, I no longer need to search my own volumes just to determine if the story is included or not; has done the work for us. SFSite has cataloged all 27 volumes (so far) of The Year's Best Science Fiction -- and the data can be sorted by volume, author, and title. Kudos to SFSite for providing this to its readers.

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