Archive for April, 2008

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A million little insights

April 30, 2008

Appearing in the new Vanity Fair is a terrific piece by Evgenia Peretzon on James Frey, yes, the ridiculously demonized author of A Million Little Pieces.  Given that their very association with an author is to ultimately produce a book that makes as much money as possible, by appealing to the maximum audience attainable, the complicity nearly every agent, editor and publisher shares in crafting the end result should never be underestimated.  Particularly with regards to the “memoir” genre so popular today.

From the article, perhaps Norman Mailer put it best in a conversation with Frey:

They sat down on the couch and talked about memoirs, a genre, Mailer said, that was by definition corrupt: “That’s why a writer writes his memoir, to tell a lie and create an ideal self. Everything I’ve ever written is memoir, you know, is an inflated vision of the ideal Platonic self.”

Read the full article here.

–msg

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Andrea Portes’ query letter

April 29, 2008

Lest it be lost to the ether, the query letter Andrea Portes (Hick) wrote and submitted to Castiglia Lit’s Sally van Haitsma and garnered so much intense interest when discussed at SCWC*LA5 is online.  It’s about as perfect an unsolicited query letter to an agent as you’ll find.

Just another testament to Andrea’s fine writing voice and savvy for the business in general, check it out here.

Read it. Think about what it does and does not do.  Learn from it.

–msg

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Guide to literary agents blog

April 29, 2008

I don’t know who Chuck is but he was kind enough to thank our posting the thing on query letters so I popped over to his blog.  End result: I like Chuck.  He’s got a crazy-informative blog keeping tabs on agents and editors called Guide to Literary Agents.  It’s a must-tap feed for anybody and all writerly folk.

Appreciate your joining the fray, Chuck!

–msg

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WORDsd.com launches May 1

April 29, 2008

Word San Diego was a free monthly print publication that we lost a few years ago.  That was a sad thing because WSD had become the sole means of finding out nearly anything and everything pertinent to our vast and eclectic community of San Diego writers after we lost the Writers’ Bookstore and Haven back in the day. Well, today I get a notice that David Boyne and his gang of rousing writerly irregulars are back with a new iteration of the paper — and I’m damn pleased to hear it because, in writing, attitude is everything and this gang had plenty of attitude.

It officially launches on May 1st and offers great deals for San Diego writers, booksellers, editors, et al to promote themselves, their services, their pets and everything else writing related — for FREE!  Do check out the site at WORDsd.com for all the skinny and be sure to drop ’em a note to show your support and welcome them back into the fray.

BTW, look at this little ditty I found in the archives: a 2002 interview with Edwin Decker by Terrie Relf.

–msg

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First major SCWC*Irvine update

April 28, 2008

The SCWC*LA 6 (in Irvine) — maybe we should just call it “Lirvine” — area of the site has just been updated. Got some exciting new folk aboard as well as many regulars in rotation. Plenty more still to be announced, of course, however I’m soliciting suggestions for topics and genres anybody’s  interested in. Please post ’em here.

One little FYI is that due to Andrea Portes‘ unfortunate inability to attend SD22, she’s back to make up for it. Hopefully this time I won’t douse her with a magnum of champagne. I prefer to save that for Sally when she’s wearing a linen pant suit.

–msg

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Because you just can’t get enough

April 28, 2008

For those of you who just can’t get enough of literary fraud these days, have we got a treat for you. And by “we”, of course, I mean those of us who aren’t actually in southern California. How’s the weather these days, anyway? I forget to check sometimes. Nothing’s on fire right now? And, hell, if I chuckled at the thought of a midwest earthquake last week, y’all must have had yourselves a good ol’ guffaw.

And, no, I don’t know what’s with the folksy tone, except maybe I’m just trying to see how far you’ll follow me if I don’t ever come to the point. Except that would be unkind. To other people.

Because I said nary a word a couple weeks back when the sad and twisted tale of Misha Defonseca suddenly struck close to home. For those who need reminding, Ms. Defonseca, also known by her real name, Monique De Wael, recently confessed that her acclaimed, widely popular memoir of the Holocaust was, in fact, a fraud.

But, indeed, one of our good friends and SCWC contributor, Michael Thompkins, posted back on April 10 some insights from none other than Sharon Sergeant, the genealogical researcher whose work forced the Defonseca confession:

When our team began releasing evidence to the Belgian press on February 19, we had no idea that Misha Defonseca would actually confess. Her public denials, law suit threats and unwitting statements made by supporters of her iconic status allowed us to counter each claim with additional evidence. It was an usual 10 days as this story played out in Belgium. The US press broke the story on February 29 with Boston Globe, Slate.com and AP articles.

Dr. Serge Aroles, a researcher of fraudulent wolf child stories, consulted with Maxime Steinberg, and first brought the story to the public in Belgium through a Regards magazine newsletter publication of the baptismal certificate and school record images we provided. Journalists interviewed two of Defonseca’s childhood friends who had tried to expose the fraud since 1997, reporting accusations of anti-Semitism and jealousy by the French Laffont publishing house and various journalists. Marc Metdapenningen carried the story through the initial denials, Defonseca’s public confession and the ensuing firestorm in Le Soir, a national newspaper in Belgium. US journalists David Mehegan and Blake Eskin followed the breaking story in Europe, and contributed additional information when they broke the story in the Boston Globe and Slate.

And I suppose I should feel a little bit guilty because Michael even posted his thoughts a week later, and I still took absolutely no notice whatsoever:

You all know the myth of Narcissus and the concept of narcissism: look in the water, see your reflection, and fall in love with your reflection, substituting for the real you, the water and the world. As we develop personalities, a small measure of narcissism is part of the recipe for a healthy personality; a larger hit–too much of a good thing–helps contruct the narcissistic personality. Sandor Ferenczi’s work describes the development of this personality in detail, including the moment when wishing overcomes reason and the individual begins to believe that wanting something to be real makes it real. At this precise moment, the symbolic reflection of the self in the water transforms and generalizes to other symbols that the narcissistic individual identifies with the reflected self, ie, power, success (one’s novel published) sex, and money. Finally, this symbolic unembodied life is substituted for a real self.

Okay, so that’s my bad. You would think that with news like that—an international scandal treading into my sphere of experience, into our SCWC community—I should be lighting flares off in your front yard. But as with anything really cool, there’s always a surreal aspect about it, a pitch and cant, a warp and drift that makes it seem like it’s nothing big.

I wish I could say I was just high, and blame it on that. But, alas, I’m not nearly so lucky.

In the end, I’ve done just about everybody a disservice by slacking this one. After all, as Sergeant noted, “My team would be interested to know if there are psychological case studies, stories in fiction that explore similar patterns, and what writers feel about these events.” And who better for that discussion than, oh, I don’t know, our community of writers?

-bd

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Celebrating the dead

April 28, 2008

I would ask you all to remind me to never get married, except that, frankly, I don’t think it’s going to be much of an issue. For those, however, who do need reminding, look no further than Placentia’s own Gayle Carline and the friends she made back in Dayton, Ohio. I wish I could say something about how she never thought that moment would see the light of day, something to strike the fear of God into her, but the truth is that she actually volunteered this information and, truth told, she’s got a good delivery and a great recovery.

Our Angel of the O.C. can be found starting at around 2:47.

And, Gayle, you’re on notice. You’re giving the opening night speech at Irvine this year. Okay, it’s your call, I guess: five minutes in front of the room or a half hour listening to MSG. (I’ll have Edwin tell Wes to break the news gently.)

-bd

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Floater

April 28, 2008

Okay, a bit of shilling, I suppose, but that’s almost my name. A personal note for everyone actually in southern California. One of my favorite bands is touring next month, and you all better get out to see them.

Floater - Pete, Rob, and DaveFloater is an excellent three-piece variously described as anything ranging from power pop to, in earlier years, metal. Indeed, last fall, Floater opened for Rob Zombie, and their latest CD release is an acoustic show featuring eleven tracks recorded live in Eugene, Oregon.

While the band normally ranges between Chico, California and Seattle, Washington, breaking east to Spokane and Boise on occasion, it is certainly not unheard of that they should stretch their legs in Los Angeles or, once upon a time, Boston. Certainly, though, a show in LA or San Diego is atypical, so I figured to let you all know.

The schedule for California, with the standard note that all information is subject to change:

  • May 23 — San Diego — Brick By Brick
  • May 24 — Los Angeles — The Roxy (opening act)
  • May 27 — San Luis Obispo — Downtown Brewing Company
  • May 29 — San Francisco — Red Devil Lounge
  • May 30 — Sacramento — Marilyn’s
  • May 31 — Nevada City — NCSCC

Okay, so not all of those are in southern California, but there’s no harm in it. Those of you who are from Chico, though, probably already know about the shows Floater has scheduled on May 3 (The Senator) and 4 (El Rey). And if you don’t, what’s your excuse?

My point being: see this band. You’ll be glad you did. Earplugs are recommended, as with any rock show.

-bd

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Anatomy of a bad query letter

April 25, 2008

From the Guide to Literary Agents blog is this little piece: “Anatomy of a Bad Query Letter: When a Good Idea Gets Buried and Good Intentions Go Wrong,” from Chuck. (I don’t know who Chuck is.)

Initially, my thinking was it’s waaay too deliberately contrived, simplistic and sophomoric an example to post here on the SCWC blog. On second glance, however, the query letter used as an example is one that time and time again I’ve actually come across, in one iteration or another, and in fact runs rather rampant in the industry from emerging writers not yet firmly grounded in the business.

Chuck did a good job critiquing it. A worthwhile read.

–msg

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Little Chimp’s disaster in Hong Kong

April 24, 2008

The illustration website Little Chimp Society reported last week that a Hong Kong company has plundered its artwork and published the images and a number of artist interviews conducted by Darren DeLito in a $100 book without permission.

DeLito, on his personal blog, notes,
'Colorful Illustrations 93°C' - Do Not Buy This Book!

The book is available online and in book stores and every image in it has been stolen from my community website and the websites of the illustrators featured – with the interviews being the backbone of the publication. Before anyone asks – the internet is publicly accessible not public domain, copyright still applies.

“The worrying thing is all images are included on a CD in the back. This seems to give the impression that all the featured images are clip-art or copyright free which is certainly not the case.” – Jonathan Edwards

The images’ file-names on the CD have not even been renamed in any way, so you can see exactly where they were taken from. The interviews are word for word with all the typos and switching between English and American grammar. Also according to the Book the interviews were produced by the Art Director Bernadette J with no reference to the LCS.

DeLito has posted a gallery at Apefluff showing the extent of the alleged plagiarism, and it appears to be a disaster. He also has updated (1, 2) the situation a couple of times in his quest for information: “If we find the source, then we have someone to sue.”

A tip of the hat on this to artist Mark Kauffman, from whom I lifted the above image, and who has also noted, “I know I no longer snicker when large multi nationals like Microsoft or Time Warner bitch about piracy.”

-bd