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Love came down at Christmas

24 December 2014

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 2014

The city had withdrawn into itself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

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.

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.”

****

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.

****

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.

****

“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.

****

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.

****

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?

****

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.

****

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.

****
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

****
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.

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