Archive for January, 2008


A Valentine’s Day “MWAH!” for Spirit Matters

January 31, 2008

Author and longtime SCWC workshop leader Matthew J. Pallamary‘s Spirit Matters (Mystic Ink), a memoir chronicling his journey from Boston’s rough & tumble Catholic mean streets to the dark primordial jungles of the Amazon canopy and discovery of shamanic revelation, is having a publication party conference eve. If you’re in San Diego, join us on Valentine’s Day to celebrate your love of the literary and the release of Matt’s latest. It all starts 7 PM at Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore. Get all the details here.


Cook & Eisner follow Smith’s webisode lead

January 30, 2008

With her new novel, The Timer Game, doing gangbusters business in 12 countries only a week or so out of the gate, Sunday morning speaker Susan Arnout Smith credits at least some of the success to her online video marketing campaign. Directed by Kai Soremekun, one of Steven Spielberg’s original 50 directors for On the Lot, the 19-webisode prequel to the story concluded upon the book’s release and it seems that others are taking note.

Variety‘s Cynthia Littleton reports:

Vuguru pacts with Cook, Putnam’s
New Eisner company readies for ‘Body’

Vuguru, Michael Eisner’s new media production shingle, has partnered with publisher G.P. Putnam’s Sons and author Robin Cook to produce a 50-episode series designed to serve as a prequel to Cook’s latest novel, “Foreign Body.”

In a bid for crossover tubthumping between new and old media, the web prequel based on “Body” characters will bow 10 weeks before the release of the book on Aug. 5. Book’s storyline will begin where the prequel leaves off, Vuguru and Putnam’s said Friday.

In announcing the deal, Eisner was effusive about the possibility for such a webisode-book tie-in to “change the traditional publishing and marketing model forever.”

The series, designed for web and mobile platforms, will be co-produced by France’s Cyber Group Animation. Big Fantastic, the L.A.-based production company behind Vuguru’s web serial “Prom Queen,” will develop and direct the two-minute segs.

“Body” revolves around “the dark side of medical tourism,” per Putnam’s, and the journey of a UCLA student who sets out to find answers to a series of unexplained deaths in foreign hospitals. Web serial will revolve around the same characters as featured in the book.

Plan is to release one episode every weekday starting May 27, with the series wrapping the day before the book’s publication. Vuguru is lining up numerous domestic web partners for a syndication-style launch similar to its distribution of “Prom Queen.” Cyber Group will handle international distribution of the series.

Putnam’s prexy Ivan Held said the deal reflected the publishing imprint’s aim to “deliver our authors’ stories to an Internet audience and to expand the overall worldwide readership of Robin Cook.”

Fair Use Notice: This material is made available, free of charge and without profit, for research and educational purposes, public review, and debate as provided for in Section 107 of the United States Copyright Law.



No, to The Kite Runner…

January 30, 2008

January 16, 2008

Afghanistan bans ‘Kite Runner’

Afghanistan has banned the import and exhibition of “The Kite Runner,” a
film about the troubled friendship of two Afghan boys.

The decision was made “because some of its scenes are questionable and
unacceptable for some people . . . and would cause trouble for the
government and people,” a government official said.

Paramount, the studio behind the adaptation of the 2003 bestselling novel by
U.S.-based Afghan author Khaled Hosseini, last year had to get its three
young stars out of their homeland before the movie premiered to protect them from a possible backlash.

From Reuters



A forgotten mystery solved

January 24, 2008

Somewhere in the family is a book checked out from a school library in 1977. It might be in a storage unit. Or perhaps I’m wrong, and the thing was thrown out over the years. Hey, don’t look at me … I didn’t check the book out. Honest. I was only four years old in 1977. And I certainly wouldn’t have thrown a book out. But we did recently clean out one of the last old storage units full of stuff from our childhood, and I don’t recall seeing it.

Anyway, thirty years is nothing. Or so we learn from the Associated Press:

It’s a novel but it’s created a mystery — where has the overdue book been for the past 57 years? “We don’t have records that go back that far,” said Lori Belongia, director of the Marshfield Public Library. “We don’t know who checked it out.”

The book “Northern Lights” by Roger Vercel turned up in the book drop about a month ago.

Published in 1948, its most recent checkout stamp reads either March or May 10 of 1950.

One thing does strike me oddly, though. While the library apparently doesn’t have check-out records running back that far, it does apparently have the records showing that the hardcover book was purchased in 1948. For $1.93.



About Poetry Cram

January 21, 2008

Hey all, Ed Decker here with skinny on my poetry workshop Poetry Cram: On the Page and In Your Face

Let me start by saying that I do not consider myself to be an authority on poetry. Like everybody else, I’m still trying to understand this elusive, mystifying art. This workshop will be as much of a benefit to me as I hope it is to you. Keeping that in mind, I want you to consider me more of a host/moderator than a teacher of poetry because really, who in their right mind would want to teach poetry?


So here’s what I’m thinking:

People who want to participate should bring at least 2 poems which will be read in class. Ideally, you should bring copies to pass out so everyone can read along and upon which then can scribble notes. (These will be returned when you are finished). If it’s not possible to bring copies then so be it, this is not Nazi Poetry Cram. Also, if reading out loud gives you shingles, fret not, I’ll be happy to read the poem for you. After your poem is read, we will open the discussion to the floor so you can receive feedback.

Read the rest of this entry ?


Book news from here and there

January 20, 2008

Book news from here and there:



Session info: “Creating Congruent Characters”

January 19, 2008

A note for those who have asked, and anyone else who might be wondering, about Michael Thompkins‘ “Creating Congruent Characters Part I & Part II” sessions: you can contact Michael directly for the syllabus to prepare.

Also, a reminder that submissions to the “Tales from the Fire” contest face a February 1 deadline. That’s less than two weeks, now.


Milne on the art of review

January 19, 2008

The Los Angeles Times on Friday brought us a rehash of a thoroughly charming 1921 essay by none other than A. A. Milne, on “The Perils of Reviewing“.

Of course in my review I said all the usual things. I said that Mr. Blank’s attitude to life was “subjective rather than objective” … and a little lower down that it was “objective rather than subjective.” I pointed out that in his treatment of the major theme he was a neo-romanticist, but I suggested that, on the other hand, he had nothing to learn from the Russians — or the Russians had nothing to learn from him: I forget which. And finally I said (and this is the cause of the whole trouble) that Antoine Vaurelle’s world-famous classic — and I looked it up in the encyclopedia — world-renowned classic, “Je Comprends Tout,” had been not without its influence on Mr. Blank. It was a good review, and the editor was pleased about it.

A few days later Mr. Blank wrote to say that, curiously enough, he had never read “Je Comprends Tout.” It didn’t seem to me very curious, because I had never read it either, but I thought it rather odd of him to confess as much to a stranger. The only book of Vaurelle’s which I had read was “Consolatrice,” in an English translation. However, one doesn’t say these things in a review.

One would think that should be among the reviewer’s bigger problems. You know. You’d think, wouldn’t you?

Maybe I’m naive.




Citizen Kang

January 18, 2008

From longtime SCWC friend, author & workshop leader Gary Phillips, his new fictional serial Citizen Kang: Love, Death & Politics from LA to the Beltway is appearing online at The Nation.  Check out the first installment of the series, “Wide Stance,” and read on.

Good stuff, Gary!



How to Be an Author

January 17, 2008
This via our friend Skye Dent, a fellow striking WGA writer. It’s a piece from The Chronicle of Higher Education on everything an author needs to do after a book is finally published to make sure it’s read, get it publicized, get book signings, get another deal, etc.

How to Be an Author

By William Germano
Put down the pen, turn off the computer: Writing a book is only the first part of becoming an academic author. Today, more than ever, you also have to become your publisher’s partner.It’s easy to imagine what that might mean while the book is still cooking. But the real work of promotion begins when the book is done. This isn’t the moment to be tired of your subject — you’re the only one to whom your book is old news. Here are a few things authors can do. Some require plane flights and hotel stays, others you can do from home.Talk to Your Publisher’s Publicity Department.
Get its take on your book’s potential. If it’s a trade book, can you get a breakfast appearance or an autograph session at BookExpo, the massive booksellers’ jamboree? Can you get on “Fresh Air?” Cable? Network TV? For most academic authors, those aren’t likely prospects, but it’s always worth asking politely. If you’re not big media fodder, there are plenty of other ways in which to take part in your book’s career. Be sure you’ve filled out the author’s questionnaire that the publisher sent you to guide its promotion efforts. Fill it out completely. Which means all the parts.
Make the Net Work for You.
If you’re a blogger, you already have a platform. If not, maybe you’ve been a lurker on a forum or an e-mail discussion group. Now is the moment to step into the cyberspotlight and say something about your exciting new project. Don’t be afraid to e-mail friends and acquaintances. Spam filters and institutional protocols may set limits on what you can do, but an e-blast is a good way for you, or you and your publisher, to reach carefully selected lists.If you have a Web site, use it to reward the curious. Offer more information (for example, visuals) about your project. Make the URL part of your e-signature. If you don’t want to mix holiday snaps with your professional writing life, consider creating a separate Web site dedicated to your subject.Watch Amazon. Be sure your publisher has put up the cover of your book with the correct copy, advance blurbs, and good reviews as they come in.Go Out and Dramatize.Most authors lecture on their subject. Plan on speaking about your book, and plan on reading some of it aloud when you do. Keep a public-reading copy, and keep it safe. Mark up passages that take no more than 10 minutes to read. Don’t just settle on the three pages you like best. Edit them down for maximum effectiveness. That means taking out clauses or descriptive words that don’t work as well when spoken as they do on the page. Dickens took a heavy pencil to his own novels to produce gripping renditions of stories his audiences already knew. Your study of oil spills in Antarctica might not read like Sykes’s murder of Nancy, but then again, with a bit of editing, it could.
It’s no accident that some scholars wind up speaking about their recent books at academic conventions. Plan ahead. Arrange to be on programs related to your current work. Propose a special session on Antarcticana.Have things to say, or at least one important thing to say (in the end, one thing may be better anyway). Some authors work with media consultants. They can help you learn not to fidget and explain that you need to floss before going on camera. A friend of mine calls them people trainers. If you’re invited to appear on camera — anywhere — you might consider getting people-trained, too.Having spent our entire lives in and around academe, and much of it in front of students, it can be sobering to learn that our presentational skills can do with some sharpening. Watch successful academics speak with television interviewers. Take notes on what works and what doesn’t. You’ll discover that most successful interviewees have something they want to say. Take a leaf from the politician’s handbook: Know what your message is before they clip the lapel mike on. Then stay on message.Hand out fliers. Your publisher will be happy to e-mail you a PDF file of a flier for your book. You can print up a stack of fliers and distribute them in connection with your conference talk. If you’re uncomfortable being seen passing out advertising for your own book, leave a stack of fliers at a conspicuous spot in the conference hotel’s corridor. At many conventions, there will be a natural space for placing promotional materials, calls for papers, and other academic curiosa.

Be Seen.

In the year around publication — roughly two months before your pub date and 10 months following — you should be out and visible. Get invited to give a talk or be a respondent. If your travel plans will bring you near a university or college, ask if there might be an opportunity to speak on the subject of your new book. Don’t be the first to mention money.

Don’t Get Flustered, Get Coherent.

If your project is controversial, expect your audiences to include unhappy people. Unless you really enjoy yelling in public, plan on calm, clear statements of what you believe. Spend time with your publicity department working through answers to difficult questions. If you have a project that is complex rather than controversial, work on simplifying your message so that nonspecialists, or even other specialists, will understand. Don’t think of it as that sadly cheapened term, the sound bite. Think of it as ear protein.

If you’ve had a less-than ideal-experience with a publisher, avoid the opportunity to grouse when speaking in public. It’s easier to remember a dissatisfied, grumbling academic than his argument about adjudicating responsibility for pollution in international waters. Right now your job is to support your book, which means supporting this particular publisher even as you might be looking for a new house for the next project.

Inscribe, Dedicate, Thank.

People like to meet authors and have them ink the title page. Always be happy to sign extra copies for a bookseller. Signed copies are not returnable. And while you’re being on your best behavior, be gracious to your institution’s public-affairs staff, to the student group that invites you for a lunchtime chat, even to the incorrigible interviewer who hasn’t read your book.

Consider Trading Your Labor for Books.

Perhaps you’re invited to speak somewhere and offered a small honorarium; a little money is nice, but after taxes it’s really not that much. Some authors ask that the host institution purchase books instead. That maneuver is particularly useful when you’re speaking to an audience already interested in your subject. The Armchair Explorers Club of Heidelberg, Ohio, has invited you to talk about pollution and Antarctic development, and can offer you $500 plus expenses. See if your publisher will make a bulk sale to the Explorers and turn your speaking fee into 20 or 30 copies of Penguins With Dirty Faces, which the group might give away to the first people who come to your talk.

Be Realistic About Sales Potential.

Nothing makes an author and the author’s publisher unhappy more easily than big dreams for a small monograph. If you’ve written a small monograph, be proud of it; small monographs are where most of academe gets its thinking done. The next book can be bigger.

Stay in Touch.

Keep a rolling diary of speaking engagements, media events, and conference appearances. Bond with your publisher’s publicity department, and keep your publicist abreast of your planned activities. Remember that the news media need lead time to contact your host and inquire about getting books or fliers to the right place. Provide your publisher with the important information about your talks: when, where, title, and e-mail and phone-contact information for the person who has invited you.

Keep talking.

Your book shouldn’t be the last thing you have to say — or write — on your topic. Every author gathers more information about a topic than can, or should, wind up between the covers. When you speak, have your book’s most important points down cold. Then have at least one other goodie for your audience, something that’s not in the book.

Seek out opportunities to write about your work. An opinion piece on the dangers posed by penguins to tour operators is an opportunity to run a byline identifying you as the author of an important new study. Translate your work into more broadly accessible language.

Look to your institution’s public-programs division; give a talk to a continuing-ed class or offer a public lecture. Speak to the editor of your institution’s alumni magazine (most scholars have been nurtured by several natural and surrogate alma maters — an undergraduate institution, one or more graduate schools, even the place where you work). Suggest that you write a piece for alums about your subject.

Sometimes you have an opportunity to publish an excerpt from your work (that’s the first serial/second serial business), but more often, you’re asked to do something very much like — but not identical to — what you’ve just put down on paper about as well as you possibly could. Take a deep breath and do it. People rarely want to read in an article what they can simply read in your book. You’ve got to reinvigorate yourself, keeping your eye on broader audiences. Articulate the same thoughts in a different dialect. It’s not merely an opportunity, at an important level, it’s a scholar’s obligation.

Open Up.

Every academic author — without exception — should be able to talk about his or her work to an audience of nonspecialists. They might be academic nonspecialists, or they might be ordinary readers, those people whose hard-earned money makes publishing possible. No man is an ice floe: When you speak to people who aren’t other academics exactly like yourself, you’re not simply promoting a book or getting the word out, you’re giving back.

William Germano is dean of the faculty of humanities and social sciences at Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. A version of this essay will appear in the fall of 2008 in the second edition of Getting It Published: A Guide for Scholars and Anyone Else Serious About Serious Books (University of Chicago Press).

Fair Use Notice: This material is made available, free of charge and without profit, for research and educational purposes, public review, and debate as provided for in Section 107 of the United States Copyright Law.