Archive for December, 2009


Why we should never joke about Twitter

December 22, 2009

Let us pause, for a moment, to consider the wisdom we might glean from Twitter. Or, as Mark Sample puts it:

The new 7th edition of the MLA Handbook *still* does not know how to cite videogames.

No, really, that’s actually someone’s real tweet. But here’s the thing: It’s not crazy. One of my favorite dialogues on freedom takes place between a nano-enhanced supercop and a black Australian bartender named Isaac at a Triad-operated nightclub in Hong Kong amid a nanotechnological plague, in the video game Deux Ex.

Read the rest of this entry ?


Tear it off

December 22, 2009

So, hey, like, just for kicks: Joe Queenan with a primer on wrecking your books:

… I simply could never get physically comfortable with the book. The problem was the packaging. My copy, which I’d picked up at a rummage sale, was a traditional Bantam Classic, but the cover was a doctored photo from the 1993 Walt Disney film version of the novel. It was typically nauseating Disney iconography, depicting a promiscuously cute little Huck, played by a very young Elijah Wood, and a surprisingly dapper Jim (Courtney B. Vance) sashaying through the woods into a gorgeous synthetic sunset. Tucked inside were pictures of Huck sucking on a corncob pipe, dickering with the Duke and the Dauphin, posing as an English valet. Every time I picked up the book, my eyes were lured back to those fulsome photos of Sugarplum Huck. I do not know what Huck looked like as Twain imagined him, any more than I know how F. Scott Fitzgerald envisioned Jay Gatsby. But Gatsby cannot look like Robert Redford, and the most memorable character in American fiction cannot look like the diabolically cuddly Elijah Wood. Cannot, cannot, cannot.

Illustration by Leanne ShaptonI ditched the Bantam edition of “Huck Finn” and when I returned home fished out a second copy I owned. But the experience was exactly the same. The cover of the Signet Classic was a drawing of a ruddy-cheeked scamp, buck teeth prominent, clutching an apple, with a perky little newsboy tam cocked at a saucy Depression-era angle. Here Huck bore an alarming similarity to both Jerry Mathers of “Leave It to Beaver” and Britney Spears. Revolting. So once again my efforts to polish off this peerless classic were stymied. I could never get more than a few pages into the book before the illustration on the cover made me sick.

Or, as the caption reads:

What to do about an ugly cover: 1. Brown bag it; 2. Reverse it; 3. Try spandex; 4. Use house paint; 5. Duct tape it; 6. Tear it off

Ah, the Sunday Book Review.



Why wait until the end?

December 20, 2009

We, The ScreenwriterA lot of screenwriters believe selling their first screenplay is the hard part. It’s not. Selling that second script, then being able to sell or be hired to deliver another time and again, year after year is where they real hurt lies.

Knowing what it takes to launch and sustain a successful screenwriting career is what the professional screenwriter knows.

Which brings me to, “Why do you wait until the very end of the movie to identify the screenwriters appearing throughout?” – possibly the question I’m asked more than any other about WE, THE SCREENWRITER. It’s a good and valid question, too.

Here’s my answer…
Read the rest of this entry ?


Desperately seeking debut novelists

December 20, 2009

From Alan Rinzler’s blog, The Book Deal: An Insider’s View of Publishing, come’s this little piece that is a welcomed reprieve for emerging authors…

Publishers desperately seeking insanely great debut novelists

“Everybody’s looking for the next big thing — a work of great literary fiction from an unknown writer who’s never been published.”

That’s according to Jay Schaefer, an editor-at-large at Workman Publishers in New York City and its subsidiary, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Schaefer, a publishing veteran best known for producing the huge best seller Under the Tuscan Sun during his long tenure at Chronicle Books, spoke with me the other day after making the rounds at two writers conferences out here on the West Coast.

“Every editor I saw was prowling the workshops and the grassy slope outside the conference, searching high and low for the next undiscovered debut novelist,” Schaefer said.

“No question, good debut novels are getting snapped up and published.”

Read entire article




December 17, 2009

Sometimes even writers run out of words. Nothing I say will … um … yeah.

Just click the link. Recent surgical patients who have yet to remove the sutures, high school English teachers, and those with multiple heart bypasses should proceed with caution.



eRights and Wrong for Publishers

December 12, 2009

From The New York Times…

Legal Battles Rage Over E-Book Rights to Old Books
Published: December 12, 2009

William Styron may have been one of the leading literary lions of recent decades, but his books are not selling much these days. Now his family has a plan to lure digital-age readers with e-book versions of titles like “Sophie’s Choice,” “The Confessions of Nat Turner” and Mr. Styron’s memoir of depression, “Darkness Visible.”

But the question of exactly who owns the electronic rights to such older titles is in dispute, making it a rising source of conflict in one of the publishing industry’s last remaining areas of growth.

Mr. Styron’s family believes it retains the rights, since the books were first published before e-books existed. Random House, Mr. Styron’s longtime publisher, says it owns those rights, and it is determined to secure its place — and continuing profits — in the Kindle era.

>>Read full article