Wednesday, September 7, 2011

August Links & Things

My apologies for the belated August links wrap-up. This has been a trying two weeks...see my previous blog post for an explanation. Onward:

  • The novel The Good Humor Man, or, Calorie 3501, by Andrew Fox, does for food what Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 did for books. In honor of the forthcoming eBook edition of TGHM, Andrew has posted links from around the world on "Food Police, Food Fascists, or GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) food terrorist stories." Here's just one: "Washington bureaucrats work to have Tony the Tiger Placed on the Endangered Species Act." [Note: I edited TGHM for Tachyon Publications.]
  • When is the last time that you sent a postcard? In fact, have you ever written and mailed a picture postcard to someone? Received a postcard? In the NY Review of Books blog, Charles Simic takes a nostalgic look at "The Lost Art of Postcard Writing": "Until a few years ago, hardly a day would go by in the summer without the mailman bringing a postcard from a vacationing friend or acquaintance. Nowadays, you’re bound to get an email enclosing a photograph....The terrific thing about postcards was their immense variety. It wasn’t just the Eiffel Tower or the Taj Mahal, or some other famous tourist attraction you were likely to receive in the mail, but also a card with a picture of a roadside diner in Iowa, the biggest hog at some state fair in the South.... Almost every business in this country, from a dog photographer to a fancy resort and spa, had a card." (via @smallindiepress)
  • On occasion, I have used the Internet Archive (aka the Wayback Machine) to find links and such to use in my blog posts. The nonprofit Internet Archive was founded in 1996 by Brewster Kahle in order to save a copy of every web page ever posted. New Zealand's 3 News reports that Kahle has launched a new project: "the MIT-trained computer scientist and entrepreneur is expanding his effort to safeguard and share knowledge by trying to preserve a physical copy of every book ever published." (via @bkwrksevents)
  • From Penton Media's American Printer magazine ceased production after 128 years. The August 2011 edition was the last edition published. (via
  • From postcards, to books, to magazines, to bookstores... Opened 32 years ago, the Travel Bookshop, made famous in the Hugh Grant/Julia Roberts flick Notting Hill, has closed, according to
  • Have you read Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle with India by Joseph Lelyveld? Or possibly The Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy Tan? Or perhaps Push by Sapphire, which was made into the Academy Award-winning film Precious? These are only 3 of the more than 20 books banned by U.S. schools so far this year. Censorship is on the rise. Read the list. (via @RickKlaw)
  • While a handful of authors such as J. A. Konrath and John Locke sell a million-plus copies of their Kindle eBooks, the regular, everyday author has a different story to tell. Here's one such story, by Kindle eBook author Walter Ellis, with a guest post on the FutureBook blog entitled "I publish, therefore I am invisible." (via Victoria Strauss's Facebook page)
  • In my April Links & Things I linked to author Tobias Buckell's blog in which he posted, by the numbers, his experience for one year selling an eBook edition of his short story collection. Author Ken McConnell (who also links to the Buckell post) does the same, for his novel Starstrikers, in a blog post entitled "A Year of Selling Indie Sci-Fi." [Sorry, Ken, but I absolutely detest the word "Sci-Fi/SciFi" unless you're referring to media-related content.] This link courtesy of Tobias Buckell's Facebook page.
  • Jane Friedman, in a blog post (via her Facebook page) entitled "5 Things Beginners Need to Know About E-Book Publishing," provides details, including links on: 1) E-book publishing and distribution services are nonexclusive and do not take any rights to your work; 2) Single-device publishing/distribution services and multiple-channel distribution services can be used in tandem; 3) Successful e-books generally require excellent cover design, appropriate pricing, and strong social currency; 4) Amazon royalties favor pricing between $2.99 and $9.99; and 5) Calibre is a free e-book conversion software to output e-book files from many types of sources.
  • Headline: "New Statistics Show Publishing Isn’t in a Death Spiral After All" -- from eBookNewser (@eBookNewser) via The American Association of Publishers (AAP) has launched a new program, BookStats, "to provide an in-depth study of publishing industry statistics." This from their first comprehensive report: "Between 2008 and 2010, sales for the publishing industry as a whole grew by about six percent. That’s a bump of around $1.4 billion, with sales in 2010 totaling $27.9 billion."
  • A couple years ago, I edited a novel for a Canadian writer; the story had some very lengthy, detailed fight scenes. Each individual action in any given fight scene was fairly well done; but overall, the fight scenes were choppy, they didn't flow properly. I told the author that a fight scene had to be choreographed, so to speak, as if it were a dance. And on Amazon's Omnivoracious blog, author R. A. Salvatore explains "How to Write a Damn Good Fight Scene." When the author is asked: "What do you think about before writing a fight scene?" He responds: "For many years, it was about the dance, about how two or more armed characters can move about each other in ways that mesmerize, excite, and make sense. Fighting is more about your feet than anything. Balance, balance, balance. Now, after so many battle scenes, I find myself spending my preparation thinking about the battlefield itself...."
  • Kameron Hurley, author of God's War and Infidel (both from Night Shade Books), discusses how both covers came to be, in a blog post entitled "The Politics of Cover Art: Skinny White Dead Chicks and Selling Books." Hurley writes: "Most writers are stuck with their cover art. It is what it is. If you're lucky, you get to say something like, 'Can that white chick with the sword on my cover actually have brown eyes or something? I mean, she's supposed to be hispanic.' But if you write the sorts of books I do, which posit worlds that aren't teeming with white people, more often than not what you end up with is something like what Justine Larbalestier went through [link], which is that not only does your cover not feature your protagonist, but your brown protagonist magically becomes a white one for 'marketing purposes.'"
  • In my April Links & Things post I included a link to an online article on the shutdown of the SETI Institute's alien-seeking radio dishes due to a lack of funds to cover operating expenses. Well, the good news is that, for now, the Allen Telescope Array in Northern California "is back on track, thanks to more than $200,000 in donations from thousands of fans.... Among the contributors are Jodie Foster, the actress who played a SETI researcher in the movie Contact; science-fiction writer Larry Niven, creator of the "Ringworld" series of novels; and Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders, who flew around the moon in 1968." So, ET, if you're listening, forget home -- phone Earth!

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