Monday, April 2, 2012

March Links & Things

This is my monthly wrap-up of March's Links & Things. You can receive these links in real time by following me on Twitter: @martyhalpern; or Friending me on Facebook (FB). Note, however, that not all of my tweeted/FB links make it into these month-end posts. Once again there is a lot of content, so please return if you need to to take full advantage of all the links. Previous month-end posts are accessible via the "Links and Things" tag in the right column.

  • Unfortunately, words of warning to authors are an endless stream, and even more so in this digital age of publishing. This month's word of warning concerns Dorchester Publishing. Author Brian Keene details the current mess surrounding this publisher (with numerous links to other sources). In one place Dorchester states they are closing down; yet elsewhere they continue to buy new material and sell existing material, even when they no longer have the authors' permissions to do so -- while owing their authors advances and royalties. Bottom Line: DO NOT DO BUSINESS of any kind with Dorchester Publishing.
  • This was brought to my attention via Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) along with a warning for those who travel with digital comics on their cellphones, laptops, and tablets, particularly in Canada (though there are other countries far more repressive, certainly, than Canada). Everyone who travels with digital comics really needs to read this.... The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) reports "Criminal Charges Dropped in Canada Customs Manga Case." This case involved defendant Ryan Matheson, a 27-year-old comic book reader, amateur artist, and computer programmer, who ended up in this criminal and legal brouhaha because manga comic books were found on his computer. The total legal costs in this case exceeded $75,000 -- and contributions are being sought to help pay off Matheson's huge remaining debt: $45,000.
  • On March 13, Encyclopaedia Britannica announced that -- after 244 years; since 1768 -- they will discontinue the 32-volume print edition once the current inventory is gone. But, they add: "...the encyclopedia will live on--in bigger, more numerous, and more vibrant digital forms." (via @HuffPostBooks)
  • From The Guardian UK: Lloyd Shepherd, author of The English Monster, found a request to pirate his novel on the discussion board Mobilism; so, he decided to respond to the request himself, to open up a dialog with said individual. Frustration and anger followed with this individual's responses, so Lloyd opened a topic himself entitled "Novelist seeking understanding" on the main discussion board. (via @ebooknewser)
  • Brad Torgersen guests on Kevin J. Anderson's (@TheKJA) blog, with a blog post entitled "On Not Quitting." Brad writes: "One week ago, I got a call from the President of the Science Fiction Writers of America. He told me that my novelette, 'Ray of Light,' was nominated for the SFWA Nebula Award.... Being nominated for a Nebula means my story not only connected with readers, it connected with a readership composed of my peers.... I can say from now on that my fiction is 'Nebula quality,' something I find more than a little astounding when I consider the fact that I didn't have a single word in professional print prior to 2010. How did it happen? Simple: I didn't quit."
  • Kay Kenyon (@KayKenyon) shares with writers "Eight things I wish a pro had told me." She goes on to say: "It's a hard post to write because we have to admit we didn't know these things when we needed to." And just what are these 8 Things that Kay discusses? 1) Don't major in English. Don't enroll in graduate writing courses; 2) Set an ambitious weekly goal of new pages and stick to it; 3) Rigorously question your story premise; 4) Lighten up; 5) Learn to turn off the Voice in your head; 6) Take feedback, but take control; 7) Learn from the marketplace; and 8) Don't shred.
  • Kameron Hurley (@KameronHurley) gets down and dirty with a blog post entitled "The Dirty Little Secret to 'Imaginative' Worldbuilding." -- "I'm continuously tinkering with my draft of Rapture [volume 3] right now, banging my head against some chapters set in Ras Tieg, which is a country that readers of the Bel Dame Apocrypha haven't really seen before. It's no surprise, then, that I haven't seen it either. No, really. I've never been to Ras Tieg either. I'm MAKING THIS ALL UP, you guys. Shocking, right? Thing is, when you're building a place from the ground up, you have to take a lot of stuff into account. It's not just about where these people came from, what they believe, how they view the world and their place in it, it's also about creating a place that could not exist anywhere else."
  • This entry is from January, though I just learned of it this past month. Self-publishing author John L. Betcher decided to participate in a free book promotion as part of the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) program. He reports his results on his blog, which includes such details as "Free Promo Facts and Figures," "Paid Results from Promo," and "Kindle Books Sold in First Seven Days After Free Promo." And according to the Duolit blog, which also reported John's results, he increased his Kindle sales by 3,600% in just one week! (via @PYOEbooks) John posted an update to the KDP promo program on March 3.
  • The six finalists for the Arthur C. Clarke Award were recently announced, and author Christopher Priest was far from being a happy camper over the shortlist. In fact, he not only didn't like any of the books, he didn't like any of the judges, either. Call his blog post a rant, a harangue, a plea for some literary oversight, whatever you like. It's an interesting read (unless you are one of the shortlisted authors or one of the judges!). One of the most astute responses to Priest comes from Catherynne M. Valente (@catvalente) in a blog post entitled "The Tears of Christopher Priest." Cat writes: "Well, it looks like Priest has taken up the leather for us this year. And I'm fine with that because someone has to do it. Someone has to move the Overton Window ever so slightly toward high art. High art gets crapped on all the time, and even the phrase is basically a self-reflexive accusation/admission of elitism. But things get shitty, Sturgeon's Law applies, the center cannot hold, and very occasionally, as high-maintenance lunch-to-literature conversion machines, we need Mommy and Daddy to not be proud of us to spur us on to write better books, to synthesize the high and the popular a little better every time. You will find a thousand authors arguing that what is popular is ipso facto good and anyone who says otherwise is a pseudo-intellectual heel. One guy should be able to say the opposite." [Note: If you've recently heard the term "internet puppy," Priest's post is the source -- and Charles Stross was the target.]
  • After you read this next entry, refer back to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund entry above. From Marvel Comics: "beginning June 2012, all Marvel super hero comics priced at $3.99 will include codes for free digital copies of those same issues on the Marvel Comics app for iOS and Android devices at no extra cost! That’s right, the most-talked-about comics in the industry--including Avengers, Captain America, Invincible Iron Man, The Mighty Thor, Amazing Spider-Man, Wolverine & The X-Men and more--will come packed with a code to ensure fans have the most critically acclaimed stories with them anytime, anywhere."
  • Are most readers familiar with the term "crowdsourcing"? Essentially, this is when a project that doesn't have financial support from other, more "official" sources, like a publisher, asks for funding support from the public. Crowdsourcing of books and music is typically what I encounter. But here's a new one: BBC News (@BBCNews) is reporting that "A website has been launched that aims to get the public involved in the search for extraterrestrial life." The project is being run by Dr. Jill Tarter, director of the Center for SETI Research. But whereas most crowdsourcing projects need money, this SETI project needs brainpower, so to speak -- "Participants will be asked to search for signs of unusual activity. It is hoped the human brain can find things the automated system might miss." So, here is your chance to help search for ET; add your own brainpower to this SETI project.

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