Love came down at Christmas

24 December 2015

Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, Love Divine,
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and Angels gave the sign.

Worship we the Godhead,
Love Incarnate, Love Divine,
Worship we our Jesus,
But wherewith for sacred sign?

Love shall be our token,
Love shall be yours and love be mine,
Love to God and all men,

Love for plea and gift and sign.

Christine Rossetti

Christmas Trees – A Christmas Circular Letter

24 December 2015

The city had withdrawn into itself
And left at last the country to the country;
When between whirls of snow not come to lie
And whirls of foliage not yet laid, there drove
A stranger to our yard, who looked the city,
Yet did in country fashion in that there
He sat and waited till he drew us out
A-buttoning coats to ask him who he was.
He proved to be the city come again
To look for something it had left behind
And could not do without and keep its Christmas.
He asked if I would sell my Christmas trees;
My woods—the young fir balsams like a place
Where houses all are churches and have spires.
I hadn’t thought of them as Christmas Trees.
I doubt if I was tempted for a moment
To sell them off their feet to go in cars
And leave the slope behind the house all bare,
Where the sun shines now no warmer than the moon.
I’d hate to have them know it if I was.
Yet more I’d hate to hold my trees except
As others hold theirs or refuse for them,
Beyond the time of profitable growth,
The trial by market everything must come to.
I dallied so much with the thought of selling.
Then whether from mistaken courtesy
And fear of seeming short of speech, or whether
From hope of hearing good of what was mine, I said,
“There aren’t enough to be worth while.”
“I could soon tell how many they would cut,
You let me look them over.”

“You could look.
But don’t expect I’m going to let you have them.”
Pasture they spring in, some in clumps too close
That lop each other of boughs, but not a few
Quite solitary and having equal boughs
All round and round. The latter he nodded “Yes” to,
Or paused to say beneath some lovelier one,
With a buyer’s moderation, “That would do.”
I thought so too, but wasn’t there to say so.
We climbed the pasture on the south, crossed over,
And came down on the north. He said, “A thousand.”

“A thousand Christmas trees!—at what apiece?”

He felt some need of softening that to me:
“A thousand trees would come to thirty dollars.”

Then I was certain I had never meant
To let him have them. Never show surprise!
But thirty dollars seemed so small beside
The extent of pasture I should strip, three cents
(For that was all they figured out apiece),
Three cents so small beside the dollar friends
I should be writing to within the hour
Would pay in cities for good trees like those,
Regular vestry-trees whole Sunday Schools
Could hang enough on to pick off enough.
A thousand Christmas trees I didn’t know I had!
Worth three cents more to give away than sell,
As may be shown by a simple calculation.
Too bad I couldn’t lay one in a letter.
I can’t help wishing I could send you one,
In wishing you herewith a Merry Christmas.

Robert Frost

And the Fair Land

26 November 2015

From a Wall Street Journal editorial that first appeared at Thanksgiving, 1961:

Anyone whose labors take him into the far reaches of the country, as ours lately have done, is bound to mark how the years have made the land grow fruitful.

This is indeed a big country, a rich country, in a way no array of figures can measure and so in a way past belief of those who have not seen it. Even those who journey through its Northeastern complex, into the Southern lands, across the central plains and to its Western slopes can only glimpse a measure of the bounty of America.

And a traveler cannot but be struck on his journey by the thought that this country, one day, can be even greater. America, though many know it not, is one of the great underdeveloped countries of the world; what it reaches for exceeds by far what it has grasped.

So the visitor returns thankful for much of what he has seen, and, in spite of everything, an optimist about what his country might be. Yet the visitor, if he is to make an honest report, must also note the air of unease that hangs everywhere.

. . . .

So sometimes the traveler is asked whence will come their succor. What is to preserve their abundance, or even their civility? How can they pass on to their children a nation as strong and free as the one they inherited from their forefathers? How is their country to endure these cruel storms that beset it from without and from within?

Of course the stranger cannot quiet their spirits. For it is true that everywhere men turn their eyes today much of the world has a truly wild and savage hue. No man, if he be truthful, can say that the specter of war is banished. Nor can he say that when men or communities are put upon their own resources they are sure of solace; nor be sure that men of diverse kinds and diverse views can live peaceably together in a time of troubles.

But we can all remind ourselves that the richness of this country was not born in the resources of the earth, though they be plentiful, but in the men that took its measure. For that reminder is everywhere—in the cities, towns, farms, roads, factories, homes, hospitals, schools that spread everywhere over that wilderness.

We can remind ourselves that for all our social discord we yet remain the longest enduring society of free men governing themselves without benefit of kings or dictators. Being so, we are the marvel and the mystery of the world, for that enduring liberty is no less a blessing than the abundance of the earth.

And we might remind ourselves also, that if those men setting out from Delftshaven had been daunted by the troubles they saw around them, then we could not this autumn be thankful for a fair land.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Link may expire)

A call for civility

17 September 2015

I’ve been reading TPV since about 2011. One of the things that drew me here was the comments. They were pleasant in tone, informative, and added to my search for knowledge about self-publishing.

Sadly, that isn’t true anymore. In the last year I’ve seen a degradation in the tone on certain posts, and an influx of comments that are combative, insulting, and frankly just the usual back-and-forth that causes me to stop reading comments on other blogs.

I would hate to see that happen here. I would like to ask for a return to civility. I get that we have a wide range of readers with a wide range of political views. It would be lovely if you could express those views without denigrating those that don’t think like you. — This part posted by Meryl Yourish

TPV readers and commenters come from every position on the political spectrum and hold a wide variety of views on just about any subject. Most of the time–nearly <i>all</i> of the time, in fact–we manage to discuss the world of books and publishing and disruption and authors, etc. without rancor and without resorting to name-calling. We’re not perfect in that regard, but we’re always striving to do better. The kinds of comments that caused one post to be closed today don’t have any place here. There are plenty of places on the Internet where civility isn’t valued and cleverness comes before the other person’s feelings. This isn’t one of them, and that’s one reason I feel at home here. —Bridget McKenna

Ya know, I like a good fight, myself. But this is a forum that is well-recognized for an unusual degree of civility, and it’s best if we can keep it that way. (Now if you’d care to take it outside…) —Karen Myers

Funny author bios

16 September 2015

Entertainment Weekly discovered that some authors like to mess with the tradition of the author bio. They found three: Mindy Kaling, Lemony Snicket, and Eric Carle:

“Eric Carle invented writing, the airplane, and the internet. He was also the first person to reach the North Pole. He has flown to Mars and back in one day, and was enthusiastically greeted by the Martians. “Very strange beings,” he reported on his return. He has written one thousand highly regarded books; a team of experts is presently attempting to grasp their meaning. “It might take a century,” said the chief expert. Carle is also a great teller of stories — but not all of them are true, for instance those in this book.”

While these bios are pretty good, they’ve got nothing on Harlan Ellison.

“HARLAN ELLISON” is the anagrammatic pseudonym of Ranisha Lonell, a 66 year old great-grandmother who, at the age of fifty, absented herself from the material world to join an order of nuns dedicated to the preservation of the wonders of nature. As Sister Marcelina, her leadership of the Ausuble Chasm protest sit-in and the Joshua Tree National Forest intervention brought her to national attention in 1979, at which time her literary career as “Harlan Ellison” was revealed for the first time in a major New York Review of Books essay by Jacques Barzun. Her monograph comparing the Lupe Velez “Mexican Spitfire” films of the early 1940’s with the “Gidget” cinematic cycle has been praised by Cahiers due Cinema as “a work of film scholarship worthy of Ronald Firbank.” Today, withdrawn behind convent walls and a vow of silence, Ranisha Lonell, Sister Marcelina, continues to write her vegetarian recipes and an occasional book of trenchant essays about the world she has disavowed. Her limp has not improved.

There are more at the link.

Link to the rest at Entertainment Weekly.

Posted by guest blogger Meryl Yourish

Six Word Memoirs

6 June 2015

PG warning – This site is addictive.

From Six Word Memoirs:

Six day, sixth month: say it.

. . . .

Intense, climatic writing comes in spurts.

. . . .

Can’t fit in my comfort zone.

. . . .

Books are my types of movies.

. . . .

Seeking knight in well damaged armor.

. . . .

Piñata purchased for anger management therapy.

. . . .

Temptation never knocks. Temptation has keys.

. . . .

Not letting go. Just adjusting grip.

Link to the rest at Six Word Memoirs

Memorial Day

25 May 2015

For readers from outside of the U.S., today is celebrated as Memorial Day in the United States.

Cities and towns across the United States host Memorial Day parades each year, often incorporating military personnel and members of veterans’ organizations. Some of the largest parades take place in Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C. Americans also observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries and war memorials. On a less somber note, many people throw parties and barbecues on the holiday, perhaps because it unofficially marks the beginning of summer.


Best Wishes

24 December 2014

For those who celebrate Christmas, PG extends his best wishes for a wonderful Christmas. For those who don’t, he sends his warmest holiday greetings.

For all, he hopes for a fulfilling and successful 2015.

Douglas Preston on Amazon, Authors United, and What’s Next

7 December 2014

From Publishers Weekly:

Throughout the months-long dispute between Amazon and Hachette over e-book sales terms, Douglas Preston was one of the most outspoken authors on the matter. He went so far as to form a group to give authors a voice in the stalemate: Authors United.

. . . .

“I came into this a loyal Amazon customer, grateful to Amazon for selling my books,” said Preston. During the dispute, his then-forthcoming novel Blue Labyrinth (Nov., HBG), cowritten with Lincoln Child, looked like it could suffer collateral damage when Amazon removed the buy buttons for preorders and slowed shipping for Hachette titles—but he said that wasn’t his concern for starting Authors United.

. . . .

Preston said he was “shocked” by the decline in sales overall for Hachette titles through Amazon. To convey the scale of Amazon’s so-called shenanigans, Preston said that Amazon had to order more than one million copies of Hachette titles to restock after the two companies settled their differences. More than 3,000 authors and 8,000 titles were affected, and it took two weeks, from November 12 to November 26, the day before Thanksgiving, for Amazon to bring its inventory back to pre-sanction levels, he said.

Preston’s disillusionment with Amazon dates back to his first phone call with Russ Grandinetti, Amazon’s senior v-p of Kindle content, when Preston thought that if Amazon understood how bad they were hurting authors they would change their tactics. Preston said that authors tend to think of their books like children, so Amazon’s actions struck especially close to the bone and felt, to many, like a personal attack. It wasn’t until the end of the conversation that Preston realized, to Amazon, books are a commodity like TV sets and diapers. “Amazon started with the assumption that all the authors wanted was money,” said Preston. “What we really want is an audience and to get people to read our books.”

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly and thanks to Dave for the tip.

How To Tell If You Are In a Regency Romance Novel

25 November 2014

From The Toast:

1. You are either a virgin or a sad and lovely widow whose husband was lost at sea. You are spirited, but still passing ladylike.

2. Your father is away in the colonies protecting his tobacco interests, or a bumbling idiot, or a gambler. His character flaws lead to you becoming betrothed to a man you’ve never met.

. . . .

 8. A notorious rake catches your eye at a fashionable social function. His brocaded—though not foppishly so—waistcoat betrays his unimaginable wealth. His eyes smolder like sapphires pulled from the inferno itself. He raises his glass to you with a ravenous smile.

. . . .

10. You have a secret, potentially scandalous alter-ego, such as authoress of smutty literature or highwayman. Your true identity is under heated debate by the Ton. In your spare time you give baskets of food to the poor and practice the pianoforte and/or mandolin.

11. You are proposed marriage to by no less than three vicars every Tuesday. You refuse them with delicacy, then weep into the rosebushes on the east veranda. Your heart belongs to another.

12. A wealthy and influential harridan disapproves of you and makes sure everyone within earshot knows it. You don’t give a fig what she thinks. You flutter your fan defiantly.

Link to the rest at The Toast and thanks to Scott for the tip.

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