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We’re Back!

13 October 2014

The Passive Voice had some problems with DNS Servers and at least one plugin, but we’re back up, albeit looking a little strange.

PG will be playing with plugins to see if he can isolate the culprit, but the site should be generally available going forward.

New posts will start happening tomorrow – Tuesday – since all of PG’s blog time and then some has been consumed in conversations with tech support and editing PHP files today.

Leave a comment if you see weird things happening or you can email PG at passiveguy[at]thepassivevoice.com

9 Authors Who Weren’t Happy With Their Books’ Movie Adaptations

12 October 2014

by Jill O’Rourke at Crushable

I don’t know what your plans are for this weekend, but mine definitely involve not seeing Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Mostly because I don’t have time in my schedule to recite that title to the person in the box office. And also because it looks terrible, horrible, no good and very bad. (I know, I’m so original.) Some people are saying nice things about it, though. Like the author of the book, Judith Viorst. Her recent interview with Vulture, before she saw the film, made it sound like she maybe wanted to distance herself from it:

“You know, it’s their version of the movie. I already had my version,” she says, referring to a charming stage musical that was produced a few years ago. “So I was able to let it go.”

But then she spoke to EW after seeing it and said some very nice things. Phew. It would have been awkward if she wasn’t happy with it, right?

Right. It would have. And it has been. Because sometimes authors see the movies based on their work — or just witness what the filmmakers are doing to it during production — and aren’t satisfied. Just because you give permission for someone to adapt your book doesn’t mean you’re going to be happy about the result. Some of those dissatisfied authors have been vocal about their disappointment. These are their stories.

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2. Stephen King, The Shining

King has made several negative comments over the years about Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of his novel. He felt that many of the book’s most important themes were ignored and the supernatural elements downplayed. More recently he also declared Kubrick’s depiction of Shelley Duvall’s character to be misogynistic:
“Shelley Duvall as Wendy is really one of the most misogynistic characters ever put on film, she’s basically just there to scream and be stupid and that’s not the woman that I wrote about.”

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5. Winston Groom, Forrest Gump

Groom’s problem with the Oscar-winning adaptation of his novel was that they didn’t even pay him for it, with producers claiming it was because the movie didn’t turn a profit. He had to sue to get the money he was owed, and he started his Forrest Gump sequel with this line: “Don’t never let nobody make a movie of your life’s story.” BURN.

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8. Bret Easton Ellis, American Psycho

Here’s another author who’s complained about more than one adaptation. For American Psycho, he’s said he doesn’t think any film adaptation would work because of the nature of the book:

“American Psycho was a book I didn’t think needed to be turned into a movie. I think the problem with American Psycho was that it was conceived as a novel, as a literary work with a very unreliable narrator at the center of it and the medium of film demands answers. It demands answers. You can be as ambiguous as you want with a movie, but it doesn’t matter — we’re still looking at it. It’s still being answered for us visually.”

9. Audrey Geisel, The Cat in the Hat

Audrey Geisel is Dr. Seuss’s widow, and she was not happy with the way her late husband’s classic book was adapted for the screen. You know, in that really stupid movie with Mike Myers? If you ever wonder why we haven’t seen any more live-action Dr. Seuss adaptations, it’s because Mrs. Geisel forbade it.

Read the rest here.

From Guest Blogger Randall

Books by Bike for ‘Outside’ People

12 October 2014

Homeless Outreach in Volumes: Books by Bike for ‘Outside’ People in Oregon

By KIRK JOHNSON.

A homeless man named Daniel was engrossed in a Barbara Kingsolver novel when his backpack was stolen recently, and Laura Moulton was determined to set things to right.

Ms. Moulton, 44, an artist, writer and adjunct professor of creative nonfiction, did not know Daniel’s last name, his exact age, or really even how to find him — they had met only once. But she knew the novel, “Prodigal Summer,” and that was a start. So, armed with a new copy of the book, off she went.

Such is the life of a street librarian.

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“Is Daniel around?” she asked a patron, Laura King, having just trundled up on the Street Books three-wheeler on a recent afternoon for a stop near the Willamette River northeast of downtown.

Ms. King, 41, a reader of inspirational biographies and essays, had stepped over from an area of tarps and tents, and was peering into the big wooden book cabinet mounted on the trike’s front end. She shook her head.

“I have a book for him, which I’d be happy to leave with you,” Ms. Moulton said.

Ms. King shrugged and said, “If something happens, and I don’t see him before I see you, I’ll give it back.”

Ms. Moulton’s reply, extending her hand with the book she had bought that morning, was pure librarian: “You ought to read it in the meantime,” she said.

A concrete reality anchors Street Books to the real word: Portlanders are readers. The Multnomah County Library has the third-highest circulation among public libraries in the nation, after New York’s and King County’s in Seattle, according to the American Library Association’s public library division. The ranking is all the more impressive for Multnomah’s size, having only a little more than half of King County’s population, and a quarter of New York’s.

A second reality is that like so many other institutions in the digital age, libraries are redefining themselves, scrambling to stay relevant and find the toehold that keeps them linked to a city’s life.

Multnomah’s library, for example, helped by a grant from the foundation created by Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen, started a project this spring called My Librarian, which enlists library staff members as online book-list mavens who share their reading passions with library patrons by email or video chat.

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The Street Books project is nothing if not messy. The librarians — the three salaried employees, including Ms. Moulton, are paid $60 a week for a three-hour shift — fill their carts based on their tastes and their patrons’ tastes.

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Ms. Taliaferro, a high-energy red-haired 37-year-old who arrived in Portland on a bus in 1995 and never left, came by Ms. Moulton’s cart this week looking to build a reading list for a friend in the low-income housing project where she lives. She said she hardly ever uses a regular library because of the rules and fines and library cards, and the worries about losing books. Street Books has no return policy at all, except a kind of when-you-are-done-reading, next-time-we-meet handshake agreement.

“You wouldn’t be able to get a copy of ‘Lord of the Flies’ would you?” she said. “I need ‘Lord of the Flies’; I need ‘1984’; and I need

‘The Grapes of Wrath,’ ” she said.

“You’re going straight for the summer beach reads,” Ms. Moulton said, writing down the titles in her notebook.

“He’s never read them, never even heard of them,” Ms. Taliaferro said of her friend. So she’s fixing that — building a reading list for him based on her own experiences and memories of books that resonated long after the final pages.

“I remember reading them and being changed by each one of them — how can you even know what the world is until you’ve got those stories in you?” she said.

Read the rest here.

From Guest Blogger Randall

Are writers crazy?

12 October 2014

 

by Cristian Mihai

Or artists in general?

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One of my favorite definition of insanity goes like this:

“Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.”

What do writers do, over and over again? We procrastinate… uhm… write. Yes, that’s the answer. And painters paint, musicians play their instruments, sculptors sculpt. And we do so over and over again.

It’s called perseverance, and it’s responsible for artists actually getting stuff done. And according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary (and the movie Hitch), perseverance is:

“continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition.”

You could rightfully say that you can persevere without doing the same thing over and over again, but trying different methods of achieving your goal.

Maybe.

But the routine is pretty much the same. You sit at a desk and you write.

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I strenuously believe we’re all a bit mad. We’re neither equals, nor the same. And we want what we want and we do what we have to do, and we all have our regrets. We don’t live in a black and white world, we never did.

So maybe we all have our moments of insanity, when we feel that life’s not fair, when all we want to do is roll over and die. Or set the world on fire.

Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Brilliant.

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But what do we want?

We want to become great at what we do, we want to change the world, to fight against an evil we can’t see. We want to leave something behind, we want to build great things that will last forever. We want to live our lives in such a way that our names will endure long after our bones have turned to dust.

All artists are idealists. Maybe that’s crazy, maybe it’s not, but I do know one thing: crazy or not, the world needs us. Like they say, without art Earth would be just “eh.”

Read the rest here.

From guest blogger Randall

Hachette shares Data

12 October 2014

 

Hachette Shares New Tools and Data With Authors and Agents

Hachette Book Group’s Author and Agent Portal

From Digital Book World

Hachette Book Group has just launched their Author and Agent Portal, an important new channel within hachettebookgroup.biz, the company’s business platform. The Portal provides a self-service option that puts up-to-date information and resources at the authors’ and agents’ fingertips, including confidential sales information for all of their titles published by HBG, in all formats, as well as a variety of features and tools.

Enhanced features available to authors include:

• list of all of the author’s works, with links to the individual book pages
• unit sales information
• Nielsen BookScan weekly sales data
• HBG’s Guide for Authors, a detailed introduction to our publication process
• interactive publication timeline for the 12 months prepublication
• file-sharing feature for sending large files between editor and author
• online-piracy-reporting tool

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hachettebookgroup.biz is open to the public and offers these features, separate from the confidential features listed above:

• dynamic title search
• title metadata
• individual pages for all HBG and distribution client titles and authors
• seasonal catalogs
• author tour listings
• general company information, in an About HBG section
• publisher and imprint pages
• integrated HBG twitter feeds
• bios of editorial staff

Read the rest here.

From Guest Blogger Randall

Randall found out recently (From Hugh Howey) that DBW is now under new leadership. Already he has noted a change in the tone of their articles, finding them more open to all sides of the publishing world and containing much less ADS. He hopes this continues.

I gotta get me one of these!

12 October 2014

It’s been fun! Welcome back, PG. Julia

10 Best Detectives in books

11 October 2014

From Publisher’s Weekly:

Lucy Worsley’s The Art of the English Murder is a fascinating look at how the detective novel was born from crime reporting, and how, eventually, detective fiction gave way to the darker American-style thriller of the Cold War era. Here, Worsley picks the 10 best fictional detectives.

Around the turn of the nineteenth century, Britons were flooding from the countryside into towns and cities. Their lives were safer now from nature and its dangers — famine, wild animals, disease. Their thoughts turned instead to the stranger living next door. Who was he? What might he do? Could he be a murderer, like the criminals who filled the pages of the cheap newspapers they read?

And so crowded cities like London needed a new professional: the detective. He, or she, was a super-hero for the age. In their scary new urban world, the Victorians found it reassuring to read about crimes being solved and justice served, which is why so many of our great fictional detectives were birthed during that period. Here is a list of the best of them.

6. Sherlock Holmes (A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle, 1888) – No list would be complete without the greatest detective who never lived. Holmes was perfectly up-to-date with forensic science techniques, and he had extensive medical knowledge and analytical skills. In the very first story, A Study in Scarlet (1887), he acts as a CSI, going over the room with his magnifying glass. And so the legend was born. Recruits to the French police were instructed to read Sherlock Holmes to learn good investigative techniques.

7. Hercule Poirot (The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie, 1920) – Sherlock Holmes was gallant, active, and unafraid to use violence to apprehend a criminal. Poirot was the first of the more sedentary sleuths of the Golden Age of detective fiction between the wars.

Christie characters like Miss Marple and the pernickety Poirot (‘a speck of dust on his coat would have caused him more pain than a bullet wound’) became the heroes of plots containing very little violence. Solving crime became rather like doing a crossword puzzle. That was because, after the horrors of World War One, no one wanted to spend their leisure time reading about blood.

8. Harriet Vane (Strong Poison by Dorothy L. Sayers, 1930) – Harriet Vane is my own favorite sleuth. Sayers had already had great success with her aristocratic detective Lord Peter Wimsey when Harriet Vane appeared in the dock in Strong Poison, accused of poisoning her ex-lover. Wimsey gets her exonerated, and they become partners in crime — and eventually in life as husband and wife.

Sayers uses her character Harriet Vane (also a detective novelist) to express biting and striking views on questions like whether women should work, whether they should marry, and the importance of the life of the mind. Wonderful stuff.

9. Philip Marlowe (The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler, 1938) – ‘Cosy crime’ dominated the British publishing industry between the wars. Murders seemed to happen mainly in country house libraries, and the characters became clichéd. It all got a bit boring.

A breath of fresh air arrived in 1938 with Raymond Chandler’s amoral, laconic, ‘hard-boiled’ detective, Philip Marlowe. Although Chandler was educated at Dulwich College in London, he ended up on America’s west coast. His short, sharp novels brought violence back into crime fiction.

The full list can be found here.

Oddly, the list doesn’t stretch past 1938 nor does it stretch much outside the UK, putting the article’s headline in question. (Though not the book’s.)

A list with a broader scope might bring in notable literary Detectives like Nero Wolfe, Lije Bailey, and Lord Darcy. For starters…

Felix

Jennifer Weiner On Writing

11 October 2014

Author of Good in Bed, In Her Shoes and others.

Signing a Publishing Contract

11 October 2014

What to Do Before Signing a Publishing Contract

Column by Brandon Tietz at LitReactor

Writing a novel is damn hard. Selling one to a publisher, in its own distinct way, is even more difficult because you’re essentially convincing a company to gamble on you and your work. This is part of the reason self-publishing is booming right now. Searching for a publisher is both a hassle and a blizzard of heartbreaking rejection, so when you actually do get an offer, it’s a huge moment. So euphoric that emotion can often blind the writer to those important details on what’s on the actual contract. It amazes me how many authors took their time working on their novels only to sign a contract after skimming it once. It’s not an iTunes update, guys…read the damn thing. Here are some key things you should know before signing on the dotted line.

Who Are These People?

I will go on record and say that I have scared away authors from a publisher I went through because it was a sub-par experience. They’re out of business now, if that tells you anything. What I’m saying though is that you should know the publisher before you sign any sort of contract that binds you to them. Now I don’t recommend asking authors whether they do or don’t like the publisher while you’re querying, but after you get the offer, feel free to reach out and get a feel for how they’re handling their business. Unhappy authors are usually a good indicator that you should tread lightly.

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Conclusion

Don’t be blinded by your contract. Signing a bad one can be the thing that ends up screwing you over for the life of the novel. Do your research, ask questions, and for the love of God, don’t be afraid to ask for changes if you don’t like something. If three author copies sound low—ask for more. If you don’t want your book assigned to a certain designer—ask for an alternative. A contract is an agreement between two parties…not one party telling the other how it’s going to be.

Read the rest here.

From guest blogger Randall

Paulo Coelho Tells Publishers: “Don’t Be Greedy.”

11 October 2014

From Publishers Weekly:

At the packed event, Coelho and fair director Jeurgen Boos talked about the future of the book business, with Coelho telling the audience that change could not be stopped. “It is a lost case,” Coelho said. “Paulo, you’re saying the war is lost?” Boos asked. “I’m not saying the war is lost,” Coelho replied “I’m saying we humans are still here because of our capacity of adapting ourselves. The war is not lost. It is the opposite. The war is won. Culture is now available all over the world. People can read.”

Chief among Coelho’s advice to the industry: embrace the lower prices digital enables.

He spoke of his own experience–lowering his e-book prices for a promotion–saying he ended up making the price differential in volume, ultimately netting more profit.

At the end of his talk, when asked about the future of the book industry, Coelho returned to the issue of price, again suggesting that offering more reasonable prices would entice people to buy books. “There is a golden rule,” Coelho said, closing the program. “Don’t be greedy.”

Read the rest here.

This is such a reasonable take that I’m surprised PW even acknowledged it.

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