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

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