Archive for February, 2008


Best Booker book?

February 23, 2008

The prestigious Man Booker Prize will hand out one of its periodic special prizes, this time called the Best of the Booker. The simple summary, straight from … well, the Man:

The Man Booker Prize for Fiction announced today (Thursday 21 February) a one-off award – The Best of the Booker – to celebrate the prestigious literary prize’s 40th anniversary. The Best of the Booker will honour the best overall novel to have won the prize since it was first awarded on 22 April 1969. 41 novels will be eligible for the award as there were two winners in both 1974 and in 1992.

This is the second time that a celebratory award has been created by the prize. In 1993 – the 25th anniversary – Salman Rushdie won the Booker of Bookers with the 1981 winning novel Midnight’s Children following the decision by a judging panel which included Malcolm Bradbury, David Holloway and WL Webb.

The Best of the Booker will, for the first time, be inviting the public to help decide on which novel deserves to take this prestigious one-off award. The public will choose from a shortlist of six novels to be selected by a panel judges chaired by Victoria Glendinning. The two other judges on the panel are writer and broadcaster Mariella Frostrup and John Mullan, Professor of English at UCL. Their shortlist will be announced in May, and public voting will then begin here on the Man Booker Prize website.

Leading candidates for The Best of the Booker include Yann Martel’s Life of Pi, Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, Michael Ondaatje’s English Patient, Barry Unsworth’s Sacred Hunger, and Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin. And while Martel’s 2002 winner is emerging as an early favorite among bookmakers, The Stranger‘s Paul Constant offered yesterday something of a rough counterpoint, calling The Life of Pi “an embarrassing piece of fluff strung out into a ‘twist’ ending so weak and unnatural that the author had to couch the twist with its own criticism in order to get away with it.”

Strangely, that kind of makes me want to read the book. I mean, if it’s that bad ….

Anyway, including the public in the prize selection is an interesting twist that reopens the field. Rushdie’s 1981 Booker Prize-winning novel Midnight’s Children was selected in 1993 as the “Booker of Bookers”, the best novel of the first twenty-five years of Man Booker Prizes. Both Unsworth’s Sacred Hunger and Ondaatje’s English Patient were eligible for that consideration, having shared the Booker Prize in 1992. So it would have been strange if a panel of judges had selected a new Best of the Booker that was, in fact, older. Of course, there are few sights so bizarre as art critics at war with one another, so that would have been entertaining. Nonetheless, of the favorites among the bookmakers so far, Rushdie’s is the oldest, followed by Ondaatje and Unsworth. In other words, no book that won a Booker Prize more than sixteen years ago impresses the bookmakers.

And, yes, I’m kind of wondering who would actually put money on this sort of thing. I mean, sure, people will bet on anything. But … y’know … I mean … er … okay.



Marketing the Muse with Marla Miller

February 19, 2008

Longtime SCWC staffer, author & editor extraordinaire Marla Miller once again floored the crowd with her workshop on honing an author’s “book pitch” for market. For those who want to know a whole lot more, visit Marla’s site,, where she addresses the myriad aspects of writing for publication.



San Diego 22 Awards

February 19, 2008

There’s plenty of cool coverage of this past weekend’s event, but what’s important right now is who won what. Those conferees honored for outstanding writing at SD22…

from Fresno, CA for The Gold Beaded Box

• OUTSTANDING FICTION >> Tameri Etherton
from Carlsbad, CA for The Temple of Ardyn

from San Diego, CA for Season of the Cicada

from Hemet, CA for Firefall

• TALES FROM THE FIRE >> Nicole Ward
from San Diego, CA for (Untitled)

• TOPIC >> Gale Carline
from Placentia, CA for EmMessGee and Wah (read here)

Congratulations to all of the writers working so hard and sleeping so little this year, and a big ol’ bear hug to our wonderful staff of authors, agents and editors who, as always, are so generous with their time, energy and information. An especially big ditto to the admin staff supporting Wes and I on the front line: Cricket Abbott, Chrissie Barnett, Edwin Decker, Simon Mayeski and Susan Ramsay. A shout-out to conferee Rick Ochaki, as well, but for no particular reason.



See you in San Diego

February 14, 2008

I won’t complain about the irony of suffering a minor case of writer’s block in the weeks leading up to the San Diego conference. I hope everyone else is having a better go about it than I am.

Still, I’m looking forward to seeing you all … tomorrow.

Be good, travel safe. See you there.



Book writing machine can turn ’em out!

February 8, 2008

Friday, February 08, 2008

The Automated Author offers 85,888 books written by Philip M. Parker, but Parker himself claims over 200,000.

A professor of management science, Parker has found the ultimate answer to writer’s block–a computer program that churns out a book in 20 minutes and never misses a deadline.

The products are no monkeys-tapping-the-keys gibberish but specialized volumes that sell for high prices. Amazon will send you “The 2007-2012 Outlook for Lemon-Flavored Bottled Water in Japan” for $495 plus shipping.

Other books cover such subjects as toilet brushes, Chinese prawns and rotary pumps with designed pressure of 100 psi or less. One of his best-sellers is “Webster’s Albanian to English Crossword Puzzles: Level 1.”

Parker produces his outsized oeuvre with a machine he invented that, after being fed the formula for writing a genre of book, scours a huge database full of information about a subject and uses the recipe to select data that it then writes and formats into book form.

His next breakthrough should a blog-writing machine that swallows the news from thousands of sources and regurgitates it to support any opinion that is programmed into it. But, on second thought, that would be redundant.



SCWC Writers, Bring Work To Read!!

February 4, 2008

My first post on SCWC’s writing blog is a request. My workshop, Marketing the Muse, held on Sunday, 2/17/08 is interactive which means I don’t want attendees sitting there listening to me talk about marketing your work. In keeping with our tradition to show don’t tell, I will show attendees marketing strategies by using examples read in the workshop. If you want to know if your query letter has hook or your first page compels readers to turn to page 2, bring your works in progress to read. I am filming this session so be prepared to be on camera. The workshop welcomes fiction and non fiction writers-those who come on time will have the best chance of getting read.



The new King of Melancholy

February 3, 2008

Paul Constant notes, in his latest column, “The Saddest Place on Earth“, that,

In spring or fall, you can almost always find something good and worthwhile on bookstores’ new-release tables, but winter is a lot rougher. In January, publishers are usually still tabulating the damages from Christmas, determining if their prestigious fall publications earned enough money to break even for the year, and book reviewers are already looking ahead to spring, when the hot new shit gets published. In the dead of winter, no publisher will ever release a novel by, say, David Foster Wallace, because the dead of winter is for misfit, unmarketable books and generic thrillers and maybe another Joyce Carol Oates novel or two.

It’s the lead-in to his discussion of two new books drawn by Chris Ware, about whom I must confess to know embarrassingly little. In fact, I know nothing about him aside from what I read in Contant’s article. For instance, I now know that “Since Charles Schulz’s passing, Ware has become the new King of Melancholy”, which is, of course, heavy, heavy praise. And, well, I did go out and look up Mr. Ware in order to have a bit better clue of what I was passing on to you all, and came across an interview Ware did for a July, 2006 episode of PBS’ P.O.V.:

Incidentally, I stole this idea of using very carefully composed naturalistic color under a platonic black line more or less directly from Hergé, as there’s a certain lushness and jewel-like quality to his pages that also seems to hint at the way we gift-wrap our experiences as memories.

I realize that this is all a rather over-thought, dogmatic and somewhat limiting way of approaching comics, especially if one tries to look at my strips as “good” drawings, because they’re not, but it’s also allowed me to finally arrive at a point where I’m able to write with pictures without worrying about how I’m drawing something, instead permitting me to concentrate on how the characters “feel.” I wouldn’t recommend this method to anyone, though; it’s just the way I work, though I certainly don’t think it’s the only way to work in comics at all.



Shapiro’s very first time

February 2, 2008

With the release of her debut novel, Jen-Zen and the One Shoe Diaries, SCWC San Diego workshop leader Julie Ann Shapiro will have her very first book signing at Ducky Waddles Emporium, February 13th 7-9 PM. Located at 414 N. Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas, CA 92024, if you’re in San Diego be sure to show up and support your local author.

If you hit Pallamary’s publication party the following night (see below), it’ll be kinda like a five-day conference!


NY Times announces….

February 1, 2008

In the News

New Literary Program to Make Its Home Online

Daniel Menaker, who left his post as executive editor in chief of the Random House Publishing Group in June, is moving online in March to be the host of a new Web-based book show.