Books

Most writers are introverts and publishing today favors extroverts. By the end of the day in Boston, watching those 13,000 introverts exhausted from glad-handing and being business-like was fascinating. One thing hasn’t changed — a solitary writer plays with words in a room somewhere. If you understand that nugget, then you may have a future in this crazy biz.

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Then we talk about using social media, and about half of the writers cringe. They’ve been living in wonderful worlds of their own imaginations, and thought writing well was its own ticket.

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I never anticipated that, when I became a professional writer, I’d also become a marketing strategist, publicist and entrepreneur. But in order to keep being a professional writer, I need to show my publisher how hard I’m willing to work.

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When I was looking for an agent, all I really wanted was someone to save me from all the marketing and logistical hassles of producing and selling a book. I just wanted to be the shy writer and let everyone else take care of me. Today, I am actually grateful I didn’t find one.

Book experts weigh in on the publishing industry’s revolution

Interesting feature from The Washington Post that explores the complicated relationship between introverted writers and their difficulty with trying to fit into an extroverted publishing world.

Tags: books writing publishing

This book I just finished reading was so bad it forced me to restart my GoodReads account just so I could warn others.

This book I just finished reading was so bad it forced me to restart my GoodReads account just so I could warn others.

Tags: books goodreads Victor LaValle lit

The absolute worst thing anyone can be is a whore…

The first line of a chapter in my crappy NaNoWriMo novel. God, I can’t wait until this month is over. 

Tags: books nanowrimo crap

Why Every November I Sit Down and Write a Really Crappy Novel

It’s that time of the year again. NaNoWriMo is upon us! For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it’s an annual event that takes place every November where writers are faced with the challenge of writing a 50,000 word novel in one month. It’s not a contest. There are no winners or losers; it’s simply an excellent writing exercise for writers/procrastinators that encourages them to get off their butt and write with the much-needed help of a deadline.

I guess the biggest critique against NaNoWriMo is that its "quantity over quality" philosophy results in a lot of crappy first drafts and not a lot of successful finished novels (although there has been a few). But I approach NaNo differently from other participants. For me, NaNo is just a good writing exercise. Yes, I’ve written four terrible novels, but at least I’m starting to learn from my mistakes, which is something you can’t do if you’re not writing something.

I’ve been participating in NaNoWriMo since 2008, and I often blog about it. The process is always fun/interesting/frustrating, especially when I find myself doing strange things to characters/plots, or watching myself lose complete control over my story as it spirals into oblivion and into new, crappier territory.

(Ramblings continueth…)

Read More

Tags: books nanowrimo ramblings

Harry Potter and the “Miraculously Unguarded Vagina” : J.K. Rowling's New Adult Book →

The Casual Vacancy is really, really for grown-ups. The novel says that the cleavage of one character “radiated little cracks that no longer vanished when decompressed,” and tells us about a young boy who has “an ache in his heart and in his balls.” A woman visiting a housing project sees “a used condom glistening in the grass beside her feet, like the gossamer cocoon of some huge grub.” There is a “miraculously unguarded vagina,” which I can only assume has already inspired at least a dozen works of fan fiction about Harry Potter and the Miraculously Unguarded Vagina.

Speaking of Harry Potter, in high school when all my potterhead friends were trying to get me to read the books, I shrugged them off and told them I didn’t read children’s books. However, what I really meant was that I didn’t want to waste my time reading books with no sex in it (very important to my teenaged self, apparently). 

Rowling explains that these sorts of subjects are one of the benefits of leaving fantasy behind. A crucial difference between fantasy and realism, she says, is that you can’t make fantasy too raunchy. “You don’t have sex near unicorns,” she says, “It’s tacky.”

Sex and unicorns? Yes. You. Can. Someone needs to read Once… (only if you’re into trashy books, because it’s terrible).

Tags: books J.K. Rowling Harry Potter

How Not To Write Comics Criticism →

TOP TEN COMICS CRITICISM MISTAKES

#1. Comics Aren’t For Kids Anymore Used, often as a headline, with popular variant “Comics Aren’t Just For Kids Anymore.” This line is so notorious amongst comics folk that it is often referred to in acronym form (CAFKA).

#2. “Biff! Pow! Zap!” Often used in conjunction with “Comics Aren’t For Kids Anymore.” Other, equivalent sound effects are common (SOKK! etc.), and variant headlines or leads include “Holy [insert word], Batman!”

#3. “With the box-office success of…” EXAMPLE: “With the box-office success of The Avengers, comic books haven proven their appeal to a wide audience.”

#4. “Non-fiction graphic novel” OR ”this isn’t a comic book. It’s a graphic novel.” “Graphic novel” is basically a very clever marketing term that allows booksellers, librarians, and other nervous adults to have a shorthand for “book-length thing of comics that we can sell for over ten dollars and doesn’t make you look like a pedophile for reading in public.”

The rest…

EVERYONE is guilty of #4 (myself included).

Tags: books comics

I think Facebook is colossally dull. I think it’s like everyone coming to live in a huge Soviet apartment block, [in] which everyone’s cell looks exactly the same.

Jennifer Egan, author of A Visit from the Goon Squad, opining on the worth of certain technologies in Capital New York. (via tragos)

(via kateoplis)

Tags: Jennifer Egan books

Anatomy of a Young Adult Fantasy Novel

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Was on a little hiatus during the summer, but now I’m back. As you know, National Novel Writing Month is upon us! Every year I participate in NanoWriMo, and this year is no different. A few days ago I attended a Nano Kick-Off Party where writers mingle and talk about what novels they plan to write. After speaking with several writers, I noticed a trend when it came to genre preferences: Everyone wants to write a young adult fantasy novel. That, and “zombie apocalypse” type genres (really, people?).

But it was the young adult/fantasy novelists that disturbed me the most. True, there’s definitely a market for young adult novels, and their popularity can’t be denied. You have folks like Amanda Hocking getting rich off self-published mediocre vampire e-books, and you have other authors who are lucking out with TV and film deals. To the typical starving writer who wants to get rich quick, capitalizing on the young adult market is a smart idea. So even though I can understand why authors keep writing YA fiction, I don’t understand why people keep reading them. And if you’re thinking about picking one up (as something trashy to read during a long, boring flight), here are four facts that pretty much sum up every YA/fantasy novel ever written.

Read the rest…

Tags: Books Young Adult Novels Fantasy Novels Crap I Can't Stand

Book Review: Physics of the Impossible

I think it was comedian Lewis Black who said, “I have seen the future, and it sucks!”

Science fiction and pop culture has sold us an unrealistic idea about the future. From robots to time travel, we have all been led to believe that these things were possible. As kids we were forced to read crap like The Weekly Reader (a kind of weekly newsletter for kids) who sold us empty promises about the future. I remember one particular issue where they described how life would be like in the year 2000. They described cities in the sky and super futuristic flying/hover cars (that they even had pictures of). Of course, we now know that none of these things are possible (at least not within our generation).

Michio Kaku’s Physics of the Impossible addresses the hypothetical future, the future we were promised in Star Wars and The Jetsons. Is time travel, artificial intelligence and warp speed possible? The short answer to that question is…no. No, it’s not. You see, scientists have discovered an atom that might be the catalyst for the invention of XYZ, but not any time in our lifetime, or our children’s lifetime for that matter.

I first discovered Michio Kaku while watching a bunch of space-themed shows on the History channel. After growing obsessed with shows like The Universe, I picked up Kaku’s book on the sale’s table at a book store. I was particularly interested in the chapters about parallel universes and worm holes. But one thing I learned while reading Kaku’s book is that enjoying documentaries about physics is a lot different than reading about it.

On second thought, this actually looks quite frightening.

This book was my official “commuter” book on the subway; and, to be honest, I can’t think of a single time I didn’t nod off while trying to finish this book. The grand conclusion to most of the chapters is that there’s a tinge of possibility for everything, except physicists aren’t really that close and they’ll need another lifetime or two to figure it out, blah blah blah.

The most interesting chapter is the one on robots. When I began the chapter I had a naive assumption that robots were already part of the “possible” group. After all, robots are already walking amongst us. They vacuum our floors, they sing pop songs and win Jeopardy tournaments. Surely in another decade or so we will have H.A.L-like robots, right? Surprisingly, the answer is no. Robots might be good at calculating data (like a glorified calculator), but robots can’t do things that are considered simple to us, like recognizing a familiar face or just simply maneuvering through a room.

Not as smart as she looks.

Unfortunately, I found myself skimming through the rest of the book. The chapters I was most interested in (parallel universes and worm holes) didn’t offer anything new I already saw on The Universe.

Verdict: Meh. Watch the TV show version instead.

Tags: Books Michio Kaku

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