Monthly Archives: February 2015

Joyce Carol Oates On Writing About Differences Among People

27 February 2015

From KPBS:

[Joyce Carol] Oates latest novel, “The Sacrifice,” is based on the 1988 Tawana Brawley rape case in New York. Brawley, an African-American teenager at the time, said six white men abducted and raped her. The claims turned out to not be true.

The book received some criticism, including from one New York Times reviewer who described Oates as a white writer trying to ascribe motives and mind-sets to an array of African-American characters as a “creative experiment.”

. . . .

Question: Considering the racial atmosphere now as this book is being published and the outrage over racial bias in law enforcement that has swept the country — isn’t it realistic to assume a book like this would be controversial?

Oates: I suppose so but it is very much about white racism. It’s basically a very sympathetic portrait of a community basically under siege with white police officers who are very difficult. It doesn’t make a lot of sense for writing this novel unless somebody feels that it’s her territory and that white writers should not venture into her territory.

I think the idea is that we should be writing about people different from ourselves. We should be sympathetic about people who don’t have complete advantages that we have. We should bear witness for people who can’t speak their own stories. If we were not allowed to write about people different from ourselves, we would only be writing about such a narrow subset of human life it would not be of much interest.

. . . .

Question: You’re also very disciplined about writing.

Oates: I’m not sure that I even need to be disciplined. It’s like saying that you need to be disciplined to have your dreams at night. Basically, it’s very pleasurable. Writing is a challenge, and I think it exerts a kind of neurological exercise in the brain so one is solving problems of structure and choosing words and rearranging sentences and rewriting. There’s a lot of thinking about it and meditating and calculating. So a writer does a lot more than you know sitting and writing actual words. You spend a lot of time thinking and daydreaming and planning.

Link to the rest at KPBS and thanks to Meryl for the tip.

A Field Guide To The World’s Most Distinctive English Regionalisms

27 February 2015

From i09:

Why will asking for directions to a time machine get you sent to an ATM in Wisconsin, a request for a sarsaparilla spider gets you a root beer float in Australia, and someone wondering if you’ve seen their bunnyhug in Saskatchewan is actually searching for their favorite hoodie? Read on to find out.

In response to this call for the most distinctive regionalisms in your area we got responses from all over the English-speaking world. Here’s a field guide to just some of our favorites:

. . . .

Having grown up & lived in Wisconsin most of my life, here are my favorites:

1) Let me stop at this bubbler. (drinking fountain)

2) I got to hit up a time machine. (ATM – TYME was a local/regional brand name of ATM)

3) I’m heading upnort for the weekend. (“up north”) – regardless of which direction you need to travel, if you have a plot of hunting land/cottage/cabin/lake house, you go “upnort”

. . . .

Kinda surprised not to see New Orleans represented yet, so

neutral ground = median

gutter cans/gutter pipes = gutters

poboy = sub sandwich

go cup = a plastic cup to take your drink with you when you leave the bar

inkpen = pen

lagniappe = little extra thing tossed in with your order

. . . .


Change of clothes you wear at the gym: gym strip

Coloured markers: felts

Lunch bags (basically any non-paper bag lunch container, especially kiddy themed ones): Lunch kits

. . . .

I’m from the west of Ireland and the local language gets strange enough to warrant subtitles on national TV. Although admittedly when written down without the accent they look a lot less weird. How it is said can also change the meaning.

Bertie/Berty = Very good. Wiery = Bad. Sound = Good/OK/Yes. Just to name a few.

. . . .

In the same way the Inuit “famously” have several words for Snow, the people of Glasgow, Scotland have a selection of words for (a) bleak weather and (b) lunatics.

(a) Bleak Weather:

Dreich, minging, drookit, haar, sump, perishin, smirry, etc.

Link to the rest at i09

The Greatest Advice For Science Fiction Writers: “Ask The Next Question”

27 February 2015

From Open Road Integrated Media:

Theodore Sturgeon, who would have turned 97 this Thursday, February 26, had a motto that inspired his writing and his outlook.

. . . .

As Sturgeon himself explained:

“This guy is sitting in a cave and he says, ‘Why can’t man fly?’ Well, that’s the question. The answer may not help him, but the question now has been asked. The next question is what? How? And so all through the ages, people have been trying to find out the answer to that question. We’ve found the answer, and we do fly. This is true of every accomplishment, whether it’s technology or literature, poetry, political systems or anything else. That’s it. Ask the next question. And the one after that.”

Link to the rest at Open Road Integrated Media

OverDrive Blames Kindle eBook Problem on Technical Snafu

27 February 2015

From Ink, Bits & Pixels:

If you’ve been checking ebooks out of your library over the past month, you may have noticed a certain problem with OverDrive. Numerous library patrons have been complaining on Amazon’s forums and elsewhere that new titles which libraries are adding to their catalogs are no longer available to read on the Kindle.

. . . .

OverDrive is having an issue with their system. It affects titles published since the beginning of the year, and it is impacting publishers both big (Macmillan, Harlequin, HarperCollins) and small (Overlook Press, Sourcebooks, and more).

. . . .

To start, It’s safe to assume that this is not an action taken by the major publishers; this issue is also hitting smaller independent publishers.

. . . .

So what’s going on here?

At this point I really don’t know, but in the absence of any new info my working hypothesis is that this really is a technical snafu. It’s a wide-ranging and very embarrassing technical snafu, but I have no evidence at this time to disprove that claim.

. . . .

Some newly published titles are getting through OverDrive to the Kindle platform, including Big 5 titles.

Link to the rest at Ink, Bits & Pixels

Assessing the Health of Independent Bookshops

26 February 2015

From The New York Times:

In a 1936 essay, George Orwell recognized one of the main difficulties of owning an independent bookshop: turning a profit. The bookshop, he wrote, “is one of the few places where you can hang about for a long time without spending any money.” Nearly 80 years on, the business has hardly gotten easier.

More than one-third of the independent bookshops in Britain and Ireland have disappeared in the past decade, unable to compete with large retailers — chiefly Amazon — who use their superior market position to offer deep discounts on printed and digital books.

According to data released last week from the Booksellers Association, which represents independent publishers, the downward trend continued last year, with around 50 bookshops closing, including one of England’s oldest, the Ibis Bookshop in Banstead, Surrey, which was a mainstay on the town’s high street for 78 years. Tim Godfray, the Booksellers Association’s chief executive, said it had been difficult to watch one store close after the next. “The last few years have been really tough,” he added.

. . . .

 In the United States, independent bookstores have rebounded strongly from the financial crisis, increasing their numbers by 27 percent since 2009, according to data from the American Booksellers Association. The group’s chief executive, Oren Teicher, said American indie bookshops have filled the vacuum left by big box bookstores like Borders (which went out of business in 2011) and Barnes & Noble (which has closed hundreds of stores). They have also capitalized on a spirit of localism and urban renewal that is coursing through some American cities. “The enthusiasm and optimism is pretty staggering,” Mr. Teicher said. “Despite all the quantum leaps in technology, the fact is nothing beats a physical, bricks-and-mortar store to discover books that you didn’t know about.”

Link to the rest at The New York Times

If most writers are honest

26 February 2015

If most writers are honest with themselves, this is the difference they want to make: before, they were not noticed; now they are.

Tom Wolfe

28 (Better) Things No One Tells You About Publishing

26 February 2015

From author Scott Berkun:

The recent Buzzfeed post by Curtis Sittenfeld called 24 Things No One Tells You about Publishing was fun to read. I’ve written 6 books with two publishers and I agreed with much of what she said. But having been an author for a decade and hearing every question and myth, here’s my own list of things I wish more  people knew about writing and publishing.

1. Selling books is harder than writing them. There are 300k books published in the U.S. every year. And 30% of Americans read only 1 to 5 books in 2014. Writing a book is purely up to you. But getting other people to buy and read you book is another matter.

2. Everyone obsesses about titles and covers but it’s hard to prove their impact beyond above a basic level of quality. It’s easy to find popular books with lousy titles and covers, and unpopular books with great titles and covers. There are too many variables for magic answers. Publishers exert more control over titles and covers than you’d expect: often authors have little say.

. . . .

5. Fame will likely ruin your writing or your life. Study the history of famous writers if you doubt me. Fast fame is a curse, or a trap, as everyone wants you to repeat exactly what you did before.

6. The publishing industry is slow to realize authors need them less than ever. Unlike 20 years ago, you can do much of what a publisher does yourself, perhaps not as well, but that depends on how entrepreneurial and self aware you are. Learn about self-publishing simply to be informed about your business end to end. Some publishers do great work, but many are stuck in an antiquated notion of their value.

. . . .

9. A great editor at a mediocre publisher can be a better situation than a mediocre editor at a great publisher. Editors represent you for dozens of decisions the publisher makes for your book that you can’t participate in.

. . . .

14. Publishers only invest in big PR for famous authors. For new authors there’s little reason to believe the investment will pay off. Would you spend 50% of your annual marketing budget on an unknown? Neither would a publisher. Publishers do love authors who invest their own time and money in marketing, and will help with and add to your investment.

Link to the rest at Scott Berkun and thanks to Meryl for the tip.

Here’s a link to Scott Berkun’s books

The 10% Rule: How to Read More Than 42+ Books a Year

26 February 2015

From HighExistence:

When asked his secret to success, Warren Buffett – the most successful investor of all time – held up a stack of papers and replied: “[You] read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge builds up, like compound interest”.

500 pages a day? That’s a lot to ask for, right? As valuable as that knowledge would be, most of us don’t have the time nor the patience to perform a daily feat like that.

However, if you’re an artist, an entrepreneur, or any kind of a creative for that matter, you’ll understand how important reading is as a daily habit.

Reading is learning and if you’re not learning, you’re not improving in your craft.

. . . .

With Amazon Kindles, Nooks, smart phone apps and tablets available to us, books have never been more accessible – nor easier to read. No longer do you have to lug a heavy hard/paperback book around with you or wait for a book order to arrive at your local book store. You can have them with you at all times without it being burdensome.

. . . .

Like most people, I used to avoid reading: “I don’t have time” was my go to excuse. Truth be told, I did have time to read, but like everyone else who uses that excuse, I simply mismanaged my time.

I would check my Facebook and Twitter accounts on my commute; I would stream movies in bed, and I’d mindlessly browse online when I could’ve been reading… When I should’ve been reading.

Eventually, I invested in an Amazon Kindle in the hope it would encourage me to read more.

And it did.

Soon, I found myself reading more than I had ever done before. Not just because I’d bought a Kindle, but because I stumbled upon a new system for reading. That approach is a simple formula I decided to commit to:

Read 10% of a book every day.

Link to the rest at HighExistence

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