Monthly Archives: April 2016

What three qualities make a good writer?

30 April 2016

From Medium:

What three qualities make a good writer? 

. . . .

 What’s terrible and lovely about being a writer is simply that you have to spend more time reading than writing. This seems unproductive to outsiders. If you are a journalist, this is doubly hard. You have to read so that you can write, and you have to read all the damn news so that you have context for what’s going on. So you have a double workload. The upside is that you get to read lots and not feel too bad about the time you are investing. So that’s one.

Two would be spending as much time as you can with interesting people. In person, if you can manage it. They will teach you new words, phrases, jokes, references, and so forth that are ammunition for your writing. No one is interesting in a vacuum. And thirdly, the normal response: You have to write every day. No exceptions.

— Alex Wilhelm, Editor in Chief @Mattermark (Previously TechCrunch)

. . . .

What is your writing practice? 

I write on planes. I use OmmWriter on my Mac, and when I really need to focus, I buy a plane ticket. Honestly. I wrote Zombie Loyalists on a round trip flight to Tokyo and back. I didn’t even go into Tokyo. I flew from EWR-NRT, wrote chapters 1–5. Landed. Got off the plane, went to the lounge, took a shower, ate some food, got back on the same plane, same seat, two hours later, flew from NRT to EWR, and wrote chapters 6–10. 🙂 It works for me.

Peter Shankman, Best-Selling Author and Founder of HARO

Link to the rest at Medium

Wills are uncanny and electric documents

30 April 2016

Wills are uncanny and electric documents. They lie dormant for years and then spring to life when their author dies, as if death were rain. Their effect on those they enrich is never negligible, and sometimes unexpectedly charged. They thrust living and dead into a final fierce clasp of love or hatred. But they are not written in stone—for all their granite legal language—and they can be bent to subvert the wishes of the writer.

Janet Malcolm

Booktrope Gone

30 April 2016

From Geekwire:

Booktrope plans to go out of business at the end of May, bringing an end to its “team publishing” platform used by ad hoc groups of authors, editors, marketers and designers to create and market print books and e-books.

The Seattle startup, which went through the prestigious Y Combinator accelerator program, announced the news Friday in a message on its site and a detailed email to users from the company’s executives.

“Much has been accomplished by Booktrope and our community over the past six years,” read the email from CEO and co-founder Ken Shear; co-founder and CTO Andy Roberts; and COO Jennifer Gilbert. “But even with a collection of excellent books and with very strong contributions by creative teams who’ve provided editing, design and marketing services, Booktrope books have not generated sufficient revenues to make the business viable.”

. . . .

The company connected authors with editors, cover designers, proofreaders and marketers to create and promote e-books and print books. Teams managed the process and collaborated using the company’s “Teamtrope” platform. Booktrope helped to get books published and distributed in print and as e-books, and managed financial and legal issues.

Booktrope kept 30 percent of the net profits, and the creative teams split the remaining 70 percent based on agreements among them. Booktrope didn’t charge any up-front fees.

Link to the rest at Geekwire and thanks to Piper for the tip.

William Shakespeare, Playwright and Poet, Is Dead at 52

30 April 2016

From The New York Times:

“To be or not to be,” said Hamlet, prince of Denmark, “that is the question.” Yesterday, Hamlet’s creator was; today, he is not. Of that there is no question.

Poet, playwright, actor and theatrical-company shareholder, William Shakespeare (sometimes spelled Shakspeare, or Shagspere, or Shaxpere, or Shaxberd,1 or any number of blessed ways) died today, April 23, 1616, at his home in Stratford-upon-Avon. He was, more or less, 52. His passing was confirmed by his daughter Judith.

Over the course of three decades, Mr. Shakespeare rose from working-class obscurity in Warwickshire to become one of England’s foremost playwrights and poets3 — acclaimed for his penetrating insights into the human character, his eloquent, flexible and infinitely expressive verse; and his readiness to burst the bounds of the English language (drawing on a vocabulary of more than 25,000 words).

. . . .

Among the deeply flawed characters who have strutted and fretted their hour on Mr. Shakespeare’s stage, perhaps the foremost is Hamlet, who must decide whether or not to kill the uncle who murdered his father and married his mother. It takes him as much as five hours to decide, depending on the performance, and by then, a good portion of Denmark is dead.
Had Hamlet never existed, playgoers would still speak of Macbeth, an upwardly mobile and downwardly moral Scottish thane who, with the steady prodding of his wife, who may be mad, lets nothing stand between him and the throne and is defeated only by a combination of a C-section baby4 and traveling trees.

Other immortal creations: Julius Caesar, a great Roman leader who gets a whole play named after him but dies in Act III; Romeo and Juliet, two young Veronians from warring families who fall in love the only way teenagers can — for keeps; King Lear, a senescent king who disinherits the one daughter who actually likes him; Othello, a brave Moorish soldier who becomes, after a few well-timed prods and a suspicious handkerchief,5 the kind of fellow who requires a restraining order.

. . . .

William Shakespeare was born on April 23rd-ish, 1564. His mother was Mary Arden. His father was John Shakespeare, an aspirational sort who worked his way up the social ladder from glovering and whittawering to constabling, burgessing, chamberlaining and, finally, high bailiffing. (Mayoring, if you like.) Sadly, Shakespeare père was prosecuted four times for wool trading and usury, which may explain why he retired from public life when Will was just 12.

Of William Shakespeare’s four sisters, only one survived to adulthood. Of his three brothers, Mr. Shakespeare was the only one who married. In an age that puts little store in records, this is practically all we know about his brothers and sisters.

. . . .

For most of his career, he wrote for a theater company called the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, founded in 1594. As a shareholder, Mr. Shakespeare benefited both from the troupe’s financial successes and from its ability to survive the winds of Elizabethan political change. (The company’s association with the Earl of Essex became briefly problematic when Essex mounted the world’s most ineffectual revolt against the queen.) With the accession of James I, the players changed their name to the King’s Men and performed before His Majesty on 187 occasions, more than all rival companies put together. The king loved his men.

Link to the rest at The New York Times

Authors out of thousands of dollars after event is abruptly canceled

30 April 2016

From 12 on Your Side:

A group of romance authors contacted 12 On Your Side after an event, which many of them had already paid for, was abruptly canceled.

It appears refunds will not be happening.

It’s a debacle and the alleged reason given for the cancellation reads like an excerpt from a horror novel.

Lauren Calhoun is accused of canceling a big affair for romance authors and readers after the event planner collected registration fees through a Paypal account.

Best-selling author and alleged victim Carey Heywood says, “There were people traveling from Canada to attend this event.”

Calhoun’s online profile says she’s an open book but the authors say she’s hiding.

Calhoun isn’t answering emails, calls or Facebook messages from them or from 12 On Your Side.

. . . .

The meet-and-greet was set for April 30th but, a mass e-mail on April 13 from Calhoun said the event was canceled because of alleged terror threats.

Calhoun added she was sorry and would issue refunds but now, no one can get a hold of her.

“Not only did you steal my money, but now you’re lying to me as well,” Allen said. “We know there was not a terrorist threat against the event.”

. . . .

“I don’t think she intentionally set out to scam us but I think she used our money fraudulently,” Lynn says. “I definitely think it’s criminal. I mean we’re talking over $10,000 easily.”

Link to the rest at 12 on Your Side and thanks to Suzie for the tip.

The great escape

29 April 2016

From Aeon:

The only people who hate escapism are jailers, said the essayist and Narnia author C S Lewis. A generation later, the fantasy writer Michael Moorcock revised the quip: jailers love escapism — it’s escape they can’t stand. Today, in the early years of the 21st century, escapism — the act of withdrawing from the pressures of the real world into fantasy worlds — has taken on a scale and scope quite beyond anything Lewis might have envisioned.

. . . .

I’m emblematic of an entire generation who might, when our history is written, be remembered first and foremost for our exodus into digital fantasy. Is this great escape anything more than idle entertainment — designed to keep us happy in Moorcock’s jail? Or is there, as Lewis believed, a higher purpose to our fantastical flights?

Fans of J R R Tolkien line up squarely behind Lewis. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings (1954) took the fantasy novel — previously occupied with moralising children’s stories — and created an entire world in its place. Middle Earth was no metaphor or allegory: it was its own reality, complete with maps, languages, history and politics — a secondary world of fantasy in which readers became fully immersed, escaping primary reality for as long as they continued reading. Immersion has since become the mantra of modern escapist fantasy, and the creation of seamless secondary worlds its mission. We hunger for an escape so complete it borders on oblivion: the total eradication of self and reality beneath a superimposed fantasy.

Language is a powerful technology for escape, but it is only as powerful as the literacy of the reader. Not so with cinema. Star Wars marked the arrival of a new kind of blockbuster film, one that leveraged the cutting edge of computer technology to make on-screen fantasy ever more immersive. Then, in 1991, with James Cameron’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day, computer-generated imagery (CGI) came into its own, and ‘morphing’ established a new standard in fantasy on screen. CGI allowed filmmakers to create fantasy worlds limited only by their imaginations. The hyperreal dinosaurs of Jurassic Park (1993) together with Toy Story (1995), the first full-length CGI feature, unleashed a tidal wave of CGI blockbusters from The Matrix (1999) to Avatar (2009). The seamless melding of reality and fantasy that CGI delivers has transformed our expectations of cinema, and fuelled a ravenous appetite for escape.

. . . .

The world is not made of atoms. It is made of the stories we tell about atoms.

. . . .

As the technology of escape continues to accelerate, we’ve begun to see an eruption of fantasy into reality. The augmented reality of Google Glass, and the virtual reality of the games headset Oculus Rift (resurrected by the power of crowd-funding) present the very real possibility that our digital fantasy worlds might soon be blended with our physical world, enhancing but also distorting our sense of reality. When we can replace our own reflection in the mirror with an image of digitally perfected beauty, how will we tolerate any return to the real? Perhaps, in the end, we will find ourselves, not desperate to escape into fantasy, but desperate to escape from fantasy. Or simply unable to tell which is which.

Link to the rest at Aeon and thanks to Julia for the tip.

Decedent took his original copy

29 April 2016

[I]n 2001 decedent took his original copy of the 1997 will, urinated on it and then burned it. We hesitate to speculate how he accomplished the second act after the first. In any event, decedent’s actions lead to the compelling conclusion he intended to revoke the 1997 will.

Estate of Stoker, 193 Cal. App. 4th 236 (Cal. 2011)

Death

29 April 2016

Death is not the end. There remains the litigation over the estate.

Ambrose Bierce

Prince, Estates, and The Future

29 April 2016

From Kristine Kathryn Rusch:

Last week, the death of Prince hit me hard. I was in the middle of teaching the Romance Workshop, here on the Oregon Coast, and working my tail off. A satellite radio station that I always listen to had breaking news—something they never do (which is why I listen to them)—that I could barely hear. I heard “prince” and “died” and “young” so I’m wondering Prince Harry? Prince William? I pick up my iPad across the kitchen to look up the news, and that’s when I see it.

. . . .

I was thinking maybe it was the exhaustion from the workshop, but no. I realized it was because Prince had a huge influence on the way I go about handling business. Doing my work. Taking control of my contracts, my royalties, my art.

I immediately planned an entire blog post on Prince and business.

. . . .

I was still on the fence about how I was going to approach the blog—Prince, control, business, or thinking long-term and contracts—until late yesterday, when I saw on the news that Prince did not have a will.

I sighed. I was afraid of that.

. . . .

Why would someone as smart as Prince about business make this kind of mistake? A million reasons, some of them psychological. None of us believe we’re going to die, not really. And Prince had no children to leave things to. He was famously private, and putting together a will that would handle an estate of that size, with all of its future earnings potential, means that lawyers, financial advisors, and estate planners would have been combing through every aspect of his life, trying to figure out what would happen past his death.

. . . .

Like so many of us, Prince handled his own business. He hired help, of course. Otherwise continuing to be creative would have been impossible. Sometimes he partnered with a record label, sometimes he did not. But he had his fingers in everything.

He had his hands full. Estate planning was probably something he figured he could do later. Of course, later never came.

I’m sure that a lot of projects died with him. A lot has been written just this week about all the music he kept in a temperature-controlled vault at his Paisley Park estate. Speculation about what’s in that vault is rife, but Prince was clear about it. He believed the music in that vault was raw, not ready to be released, for whatever reason. He made conflicting statements about what he wanted done with that music—burned upon his death or eventually released, once it was ready.

It’s not ever going to be ready now, not the way that Prince envisioned, anyway. It’ll be up to whoever ends up managing the estate.

. . . .

I know how much work it will be to manage my estate. A friend of mine, with maybe 20 or so novels to his name, wrote an eight-page single-spaced sheet of instructions to the person who will inherit under his will, explaining terms (like intellectual property) and where the heir can look for more information on things like copyright.

In the middle of this document, which he said I can crib from when I get back to my estate posts, he writes that he has attached a spreadsheet which is a master file to all of his work, including the name of every work published, the ISBN of the print publications, date of publication, what channels the work has been published in, and whether or not the work has been registered with the copyright office. He added a separate file of all his passwords, and then a map on how to find the files (and their backups) for everything he’s ever written.

Link to the rest at Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Here’s a link to Kris Rusch’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

PG says that, while there is lots of material about self-publishing, marketing, promoting, pricing, getting an agent, getting a publisher, etc., etc., Kris is the only writer he knows who has shared thoughts about what can/should happen when an author dies.

A great step forward by Sourcebooks which we expect other publishers will imitate

29 April 2016

From veteran publishing consultant Mike Shatzkin:

Since I started working with Peter McCarthy, he has been impressing me with the importance of publishers doing “research” in the digital age, by which he means“audience research” done with a variety of online tools. That audience research should inform what publishers do to market their books by identifying, segmenting, locating, and understanding the potential buyers for those books. That enables publishers to “aim” their marketing efforts where they are likely to do the most good.

. . . .

What we were already beginning to see then (and more since) is that many publishers, and by now most of the big ones, have created an executive position with the word “audience” in the title or job description. The responsibilities to address audiences required research as a prerequisite, but it has seldom been framed that way.

This week we were delighted to see that Sourcebooks, a legitimate contender for the title of “most innovative company in book publishing”, has created a “data and analysis” department. As reported by Shelf Awareness in its newsletter (and also reported by Publishers Marketplace and Publishers Weekly):

Sourcebooks has created a data and analysis department that brings together “experts from supply chain, editorial, and sales” to streamline data functions and offer a higher level of analytical support to departments, partners and customers.

The only part about this that is disappointing is that the word “research” is not in the department name or description. But the separate department to specialize in “data and analysis” is exactly what we were advocating when we called for creation of research departments.

It is important to keep the connection between “data and analysis” and “research” in mind because, historically, “data and analysis” in publishing have meant “post mortem analysis” of specific marketing efforts. Indeed, many publishers have “analytics” roles already, but they are not cross-functional and they tend to be focused on analysis of time-honored activities, not applying new techniques on audiences as is enabled in the digital age.

As an industry, we have usually used “data and analysis” to measure the effectiveness of prior activities rather than to understand what we’re aiming at in the future. Being explicit about the fact that “research” is the core function means you are also being explicit that the primary purpose of that function is to aim future efforts, not evaluate the successes or failures of prior ones. Research is seeking to be predictive as well as to inform rapid response to an ever-changing landscape. With most of their existing capabilities and activities, in Pete’s words, “publishers don’t look out; they don’t look forward; and they don’t look ‘big’”.

. . . .

We applaud the Sourcebooks approach to staffing their data and analysis group, which acknowledged that “editorial, sales, and supply chain” needed to participate.

Link to the rest at The Shatzkin Files

PG was going to “comment” about “research” but decided not to.

 

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