Sunday, May 1, 2011

April Links & Things

This is my monthly wrap-up of April's Links & Things. You can receive these links in real time by following me on Twitter: @martyhalpern. Note, however, that not all of my tweeted links make it into these month-end posts. Hopefully, you will find some value in what follows; if you are new to this blog, and wish to catch up on my previous month-end posts: just look for the "Links and Things" tag in the right column of this blog; there are 29 previous blog posts.

  • On April 29, renowned feminist SF author and critic Joanna Russ -- best known for her novel The Female Man -- passed away, following a series of strokes. PW's Rose Fox shares some personal thoughts on Joanna Russ on the Genreville blog, which includes a link to Ms. Russ's still-powerful, Nebula Award-winning story, "When It Changed," originally published in 1972 in Again, Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison®.
  • Short story collection George Alec Effinger Live! From Planet Earth, which I originally acquired and edited for Golden Gryphon Press in 2005, has now been released in eBook format courtesy of E-Reads. This collection was a joy to compile: I contacted George's friends and former editors, including Michael Bishop, Bradley Denton, Gardner Dozois, Neil Gaiman, and Howard Waldrop, to name but a few, and asked them to select their fave Effinger story -- and once they did, I then asked each of them to write an introduction to the story for this collection. A wonderful tribute, indeed, to Effinger's unique work.
  • (@sfsignal) reports the return of Michael Moorcock's New Worlds Magazine. The website is slated to go live in June/July, with the first issue scheduled to appear this September/October. The magazine is currently open to submissions from authors and artists.
  • You gotta love this title for a blog post: "Premature Plot Ejaculation" -- written by Benjamin Tate on the Apex Publications blog. Tate writes: "I have just recently finished up the first book in a new series and I experienced something toward the end that *ahem* authors don't like to talk about. It's a little... embarrassing. We all experience it, but it's... awkward to talk about, and we'd rather our fans think we're perfect, that 'accidents' don't happen.... But 'accidents' do happen. To the best of us. And it's time someone talked about it. Yes, yes, I'm talking about premature plot ejaculation. There, I said it! It's out there! Now let's deal with it." (via Danny O’Dare's Facebook page)
  • I would recommend this next blog even more so if it weren't for the nag "Follow Us" link that's glued to the left side of the window, constantly covering the text so that I must scroll, and scroll, and scroll to maintain the text at eye-level, yet move it from under the nag link. So be forewarned unless, that is, you enjoy being nagged. The blog is courtesy of the Novel Publishing Group, LLC (@novelpublicity), and the blogger, Emlyn, shares with us "The Importance of Editing: 6 Tips to Help Make the Most of Your Manuscript": 1) Write through your first draft; 2) Learn to pinpoint your most common mistakes; 3) Your beta reader is your new best friend; 4) Never underestimate the usefulness of Ctrl+F; 5) Don’t box yourself in by insisting upon a precise number of drafts; and 6) When you think you're finished, you're probably not.
  • Another by-the-numbers blog post that should intrigue you, especially if you are a serious reader and wish to support your favorite authors -- this one by Keith Brooke (@keithbrooke) entitled "Seven things you can do to help an author": 1) Play tag; 2) Customer reviews; 3) Other reviews; 4) Like us; 5) Follow us; 6) Engage; and 7) Word of mouth. Some of these bullet points aren't directly intuitive, like "Play tag" so you'll need to check out the blog post for the details.
  • If your book is published by a typical New York publisher, you most likely have little, if any, say in the cover art. Some independent publishers will allow the author to provide feedback on the cover art (although there is no guarantee the publisher will do anything with that feedback); a few indie publishers will even work directly with the author. But what if you are self-publishing your book? Author Steve Thomas provides us with a 3-part in-depth discussion on his cover art experience. In Part 1, Steve chooses a cover artist; Part 2 follows the progress from description to final cover; and in Part 3, we get to hear from the artist himself. Extremely well-done series, especially if you are planning on self-publishing -- and don't think that real cover art matters. The link above takes you to part 3, but the first paragraph contains links to parts 1 and 2. (via @indiebookblogge)
  • You've written your novel, you've got the cover art, and now you are ready to publish. What do you do? Joanna Penn (@thecreativepenn), on her blog The Creative Penn, provides us with a detailed breakdown of her book launch for her novel Pentecost. From book trailers to guest blogging to launch day competitions, Joanna tells all, including the costs. She then does a postmortem, looking at what she did well, and what could have been done better. Excellent.
  • A similar, though less detailed, approach is from Evelyn Lafont (@KeyboardHussy) at entitled "What Can A Self-Published Author Do To Gain Recognition?": 1) Send out a press release; 2) Start an online event or club; 3) Have a party; 4) Query magazines, webzines and blogs with article ideas; 5) Become a speaker; 6) Write a short story for magazine publication; and 7) Be creative and do something different. (via @SueCollier)
  • Author Tobias Buckell (@tobiasbuckell) writes: "I've been selling my short story collection Tides from the New Worlds for a year now, and I'm going to share that data with you. I'm going to hang it all out there and show you my stuff." Note that short story collections do not sell as easily or in the quantities that novels do, so Tobias provides some valuable insight and experience here. (via @jasonsanford)
  • As eBooks become more accepting and more prevalent, so too will the scams and spams. Publishing Trends blog has a very timely post entitled "The Kindle Swindle." Mike Essex, a Search Specialist, writes: "...people are stealing content from the web, quickly creating ebooks about the same topics from multiple angles in order to target different keyword variants, and publishing them -- some Kindle authors have 'written' thousands of books in a single year." Caveat emptor. (via Duncan Long's Facebook page)
  • You are a writer, and you receive an email that specifically mentions the title of your book, and expresses interest in having you appear on a legitimate cable TV program to promote your book. A dream come true! Or is it? On, Larry Brooks -- author of Whisper of the Seventh Thunder -- shares his experience in a blog post entitled "The Dark Side of the New Age of Self-Publishing." (via @dirtywhitecandy)
  • As regular readers of this blog know, I co-edited (with Nick Gevers) Is Anybody Out There? (Daw Books, 2010), an anthology of original stories based on the Fermi Paradox. And in November, Night Shade Books will publish my anthology of "alien contact" stories. And if you read my "introduction" to this forthcoming anthology that I posted last week, you know my interest in space exploration (and aliens, of course) dates back to when I was young. Thus I was saddened and disappointed to read on, the website for the San Jose Mercury News, this headline: "SETI Institute to shut down alien-seeking radio dishes." This is all due to a lack of money to cover operating expenses; Federal support has declined as have private donations. The opening line to the article says it all: "If E.T. phones Earth, he'll get a 'disconnect' signal."
  • US astronauts have been traveling to and from the International Space Station on Russian rockets for a number of years now. As the Space Shuttle program comes to an end, and the SETI Institute shuts down the Allen Telescope Array, we will have to look more toward the Russians for progress in space. (@dailygalaxy) has an intriguing article on black holes: "The discovery of stable orbits inside certain kinds of black hole implies that planets and perhaps even life could survive inside these weird objects, says Vyacheslav Dokuchaev at the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow." Life inside a black hole....
  • More from Russia -- this headline from "Russia on track to build giant lunar base." On April 12, 1961, Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to enter space and orbit the Earth. To mark this 50th anniversary, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin vowed Russia would have a moonbase. According to the Kremlin press release: "Above all, we are talking about flights to the moon and the creation of a base close to its north pole where there is likely to be a source of water... This could be achieved close to 2030." Just as the launch of Sputnik 1 on October 4, 1957, pushed the United States into a "space race" with the Soviet Union, so too might this Russian moonbase. A Russian military base on the moon could, so to speak, control Earth. (via @spacefuture)
  • And on a final note, reports that Godrej and Boyce, the last company left in the world still manufacturing typewriters, has closed its doors. (via Charles Stross's Facebook page)

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