Exclusive Author Interview...

Irish American, Agatha Award-nominated author Sheila Connolly (GSA ’79) gives LitVote an exclusive author interview for St. Patty’s Day…

Share Button

Literary Scene

  • Get the Buck Out with over 100 Harvard Faculty

  • Harvard_divestment_protest_1978More than 100 Harvard faculty members just co-signed a letter to the university’s president and fellows, demanding that the Harvard Corporation — which manages the 32 billion dollar educational endowment, the largest in the world — commit to divesting from the fossil fuel industry. Now they need support from the climate movement. Sign the petition to support them! If Harvard does it your own alma mater may be next.

    Share Button
  • Dark Lady of Hollywood

  • Reviewed by Jill Allen, Foreword Reviews — Spring 2014

    Dark Lady of Hollywood
    All the world’s a stage when an actress and a terminally ill TV executive meet in this biting comedy.

    It takes a special kind of talent to simultaneously skewer Hollywood and Shakespeare while writing a thought-provoking novel, and Dark Lady of Hollywood proves Diane Haithman has this genius. As a former arts and entertainment writer for the Los Angeles Times, Haithman’s book explores themes of the ephemeral nature of show business, a human desire to connect, and what really matters in life, while causing chuckles at the same time.

    As the story opens, TV executive Ken Harrison’s life and career slide downhill fast. Demoted from his job due to the fickle whims of television ratings, he struggles to find meaning in his life while trying not to think about the aggressive form of cancer that he has which other people seem to think has taken over his life. Fate brings him together with Ophelia Lomond, a biracial thirty-two-year-old wannabe actress who finds herself in a rut. Shakespeare aficionado Ken quickly determines that Ophelia will be to him what the Dark Lady of the Sonnets was to the Bard: his inspiration. However, Ken and Ophelia have decidedly different ideas of what being a muse involves.

    In a brilliant coup, the author allows Ken and Ophelia to narrate alternating chapters from the first-person point of view so that the reader gets to know each intimately. In this way, Ken becomes more than a one-dimensional cancer survivor, and Ophelia becomes more than just a biracial beauty.

    Both Ophelia and Ken have wry, wise viewpoints on the entertainment industry, which will keep readers laughing along. Additionally, the pair is shrewd and intelligent. They play off each other well, making it easy to root for them and their budding relationship. One can empathize with why Ophelia would change her name and pretend she is from an imaginary island, because the author astutely shows the hoops anyone has to go through in hopes of landing the role of their dreams. It is refreshing to see someone like Ken, who, in the face of terminal illness, goes about stubbornly living his life, even when everyone around him says he’s going to die.

    Furthermore, the author gently satirizes Los Angeles and the industry while making the Bard of Avon drolly relevant. She begins every chapter with an apt quote from a Shakespeare play. Anyone who appreciates comedy and either loves or disdains Tinseltown will adore this breezy, biting book.

    Share Button
  • Popular Books by State


  • Ebooks-map-largeScribd, the exhaustive eBook library, monitors popular books by state. It counted how many times 
    registered Scribd users read a book. The results are all over the map.

    Horror and fantasy top the list in the Midwest, while hilarious and poignant memoirs won the coasts (Sarah Silverman’s The Bedwetter tops New York and Patti Smith’s Just Kids is big in California).

    Alaska remains an enigma.  Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream and Dessert Book was their number one read. Stay tuned to find out what people living in sub-arctic temperatures do with ice cream.

    Share Button
  • Is the Universe a Simulation?

  • code-man

    By EDWARD FRENKEL

    IN Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel “The Master and Margarita,” the protagonist, a writer, burns a manuscript in a moment of despair, only to find out later from the Devil that “manuscripts don’t burn.”

    While you might appreciate this romantic sentiment, there is of course no reason to think that it is true. Nikolai Gogol apparently burned the second volume of “Dead Souls,” and it has been lost forever. Likewise, if Bulgakov had burned his manuscript, we would have never known “Master and Margarita.” No other author would have written the same novel.

    But there is one area of human endeavor that comes close to exemplifying the maxim “manuscripts don’t burn.” That area is mathematics. If Pythagoras had not lived, or if his work had been destroyed, someone else eventually would have discovered the same Pythagorean theorem. Moreover, this theorem means the same thing to everyone today as it meant 2,500 years ago, and will mean the same thing to everyone a thousand years from now — no matter what advances occur in technology or what new evidence emerges. Mathematical knowledge is unlike any other knowledge. Its truths are objective, necessary and timeless. (more…)

    Share Button
  • Amazon Publishing’s advances move ahead of the market

  • William Lashner‘s latest novel, the Kindle-only thriller The Barkeep, topped last week’s Digital Book World ebook bestseller chart with two more Amazon Publishing titles coming in at four and 11. Not bad for a company which George Packer characterises as having no real interest in books.

    The way the money is moving … dollar bills being minted in Washington. Photograph: Alex Wong/Getty Images

    William Lashner‘s latest novel, the Kindle-only thriller The Barkeep, topped last week’s Digital Book World ebook bestseller chart with two more Amazon Publishing titles coming in at four and 11. Not bad for a company which George Packer characterises as having no real interest in books.But why would an author who wants to break out into “the true mass market” limit herself to the Amazon universe? It seems that it’s all about the future, with Amazon offering terms for digital royalties which Quinn’s agent described as “decidedly more generous” than those offered by traditional publishers.

    According to new figures from the self-publishing champion Hugh Howey, ebooks may account for as much as 90% of current sales in bestselling genre fiction and signing with Amazon unleashes the shopping site’s “incredible ability to market their own works”. Amazon Publishing puts out only 4% of bestselling genre ebooks, but those titles manage to snag 15% of daily sales. As for the big five, they’re converting 28% of these titles into just 34% of daily unit sales.

    (via The Guardian)

    Share Button
  • Readers’ Favorite Books of 2013

  • The Fault in Our Stars
    Readers to voted on their top 10 favorite books of the year, and the results are filled with literary hotshots and household names. From Donna Tartt to Khaled Hosseini to Dan Brown, the titles that turn up on our list of readers’ 10 favorite books of the year are going to be familiar whether you consider yourself a big reader or not.

    Yet not all the spaces were taken up by the well-known greats: at least one book, “Reconstructing Amelia,” was threatened to be overshadowed by the fall’s onslaught of heavy-hitters, but CNN readers hadn’t forgotten its suspenseful tale.

    Another surprise entry was John Green’s “The Fault in Our Stars” which, being a 2012 release, we didn’t expect to see on a list of 2013 picks. But thanks to the numerous readers who wrote in votes for the tough but engrossing novel, Green’s work shines for another year…[more via CNN]

    Share Button
  • The Papal Enclave

  • PapalRenowned Harvard Law Professor Stephen Ripley discovers his brightest assistant brutally murdered after he exposes a conspiracy that leads all the way to the Pope. Working closely with Sigourney “Ziggy” Penance, a beautiful Boston Globe journalist and his contacts within the FBI & CIA, Professor Ripley is thrust into a very sordid world with immense international intrigue.

    As the shocking revelations of his assistant’s research explode across the front page of the Boston Globe, plots of retribution are set in motion and Ripley rushes to Rome to identify a mysterious Vatican contact and uncover murderous plots against the Pope, a former Archbishop of Boston, and himself. This labyrinth of intrigue draws in the Pope’s personal army of Swiss Guards and the passionate sect of Opus Dei, who join forces to defend the Church against a stream of vengeance. Discover who prevails as these fast paced multi layered events over six days comes to a cataclysmic end.

    The Papal Enclave by James O’Brien is a thoroughly researched mix of historical facts, recent events, and intriguing characters intertwined with an absorbing finale. The Papal Enclave is the first in a series of thrillers that weaves a tapestry of suspense utilizing fictional characters through actual current events while mingling them among authentic personalities of the famous and infamous.

    What the Professionals say about The Papal Enclave…

    “A well-crafted tale where reality is woven tightly in the warp and woof of its words. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book and hope it has great success.”   Stephen Boehrer, Author of The Purple Culture

    Share Button
  • Twilight of the Star Vampires

  • Twilight of the Star Vampires (Book 1) A Parody of the Twilight Saga, Star Wars and Star Trek
    Paula Sunsong’s Twilight of the Star Vampires just hit #1 in the Kindle Store in Humor: Parodies. Book 2 goes free on December 13th.

    What happens when Twilight Saga vampire Edward Cullen meets Darth Vader meets Vulcan Spock? That question is answered in this parody of the Twilight Saga, Star Wars and Star Trek. The book contains space fights, vampire bites and romantic nights with a Jetti Knight, Werewolf, Vulcan and Vampire love triangle (quadrangle?).

    Paula Sunsong’s novel asks the age old questions: Can a Jetti knight find love with a Klingon vampire? What if Chewbaca was a werewolf? Will Edward defy his vampire instincts and satisfy his desire in a different way with Padma, Princess Leia’s and Luke Skywalker’s mother?

    Paula Sunsong has been a private investigator, journalist and film production crew member (“High Crimes” with Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman, Sundance Film Festival picks: “Tecknolust” with Tilda Swinton, and comedy “Haiku Tunnel”). She is the author of the Twilight of the Star Vampires Trilogy: A parody of the Twilight Saga, Star Wars and Star Trek. Book 3 will be free December 19-23/13.

     

    Share Button
  • Miracle Boy Grows Up: How the Disability Rights Revolution Saved My Sanity

  • Miracle Boy Grows Up: How the Disability Rights Revolution Saved My Sanity
    A memoir about growing up before, during, and after the height of the disability-rights movement, Ben Mattlin’s Miracle Boy Grows Up: How The Disability Rights Revolution Saved My Sanity (Skyhorse Publishing) has received impressive blurbs from the likes of Jay McInerney, the National Council on Disability, and our own Antje Clasen.

    “I simply could not stop reading [it],” she wrote in her Amazon review.  ”‘Miracle Boy Grows Up’ is an extraordinary book.   It is a literary voice telling a story worth listening to. Ben Mattlin was born with spinal muscular atrophy, a genetic disease that confines him to a life in a wheelchair.  In this memoir, he describes his life in which he beats the odds: becoming a pioneer in his elementary school and his high school in New York and then Harvard. Ben Mattlin is among the firsts to attempt and accomplish a life in a competitive world created for able bodied people.  One cannot but admire his extraordinary courage, persistence and ability to overcome obstacles.  Ben Mattlin describes how he learns to navigate uncharted territory – although he sometimes feels ‘unmoored, lost at sea’ – he succeeds at graduating cum laude, moving to California, marrying and finding his career as a journalist. He also becomes an advocate for disabled rights. Words are certainly his friends – he is an intelligent and perceptive wordsmith. Ben Mattlin has become a fine writer.”

    According to a recent poll, almost half the U.S. population knows someone with a disability, but only a third is comfortable around the disabled. Too often people treat those with disabilities as if they’re doing something heroic or extraordinary for living a normal life.  Miracle Boy Grows Up demystifies disability and educates, as much as it entertains, about the realities of living with a severe, debilitating, even life-threatening disability.  With wit and humor, it skewers stereotypes and misconceptions, showing how in some ways disability is much harder than most people imagine yet in others is very much easier.  It is also a coming-of-age story about one Harvard grad’s learning to cope.

    Share Button
  • What a Glorious Day

  • by Keith Raffel
    A Fine and Dangerous Season
    Sometimes good things do happen to us writers. In September an editor from Amazon Publishing got in touch. She wanted to buy rights to A Fine and Dangerous Season, the Cuban Missile Crisis thriller I’d published as an ebook on my own last year.
    Amazingly, six weeks later — today! — the book is out in a re-edited version with a new cover in both ebook and trade paper editions.
    Here in Palo Alto, it’s bright and sunny and in the high 60s.
    What a glorious day!
    Share Button
  • Charles Darwin’s Son Draws Cute Pictures on the Manuscript of On the Origin of Species

  • This article first appeared in the Telegraph

    An original sheet from Charles Darwin’s manuscript ‘On the Origin of Species’, which has been covered in a drawing by one of his children, is to go on display for the first time.

    origindrawing1

    Darwin created “a mound” of papers whilst he drafted his seminal work but less than 35 have survived.

    Archivists believe the majority of the remaining sheets have only survived because he gave them to his children as drawing paper and kept the pictures.

    Next week one of these sheets is to go on display for the first time with specimens from his Beagle voyage as part of a new exhibition at Cambridge University Library.

    origindrawing2

    The charming children’s drawing, named the “Battle of the Vegetables” by Cambridge University Library staff, shows two mounted figures facing each other in battle.

    One figure wearing a turban is riding what archivists think could be a stale potato and the other is on what appears to be a giant carrot, crossed with a dog.

    It is not known which of Darwin’s 10 children drew the picture but it is thought the child would have been between eight and 10 years old.

    The picture sheds light on the life of the Darwin and shows him as a man who put a high value on family life and did not work in isolation.

    John Wells, exhibitions officer at the Library, said the story of they survived is remarkable.

    He said: “There are just thirty or so of these original sheets in existence and the vast majority have a child’s drawing on the back.

    “It’s quite amazing to think these priceless historical exhibits have only survived because of a child’s drawings on the back.

    “It demonstrates the importance of his family and brings it home that he surrounded himself with family, and friends, as he worked.

    “The picture is absolutely brilliant. It’s glorious and shows great imagination.”

    A spokesman at Cambridge University said it was believed that this is the very first time the drawing had been put on display to the public.

    Another 23 sheets from the original manuscript are held at the Library and it is thought there are approximately 10 more in existence.

    The new exhibition is to be opened on Monday July 6 by William Huxley Darwin the naturalist’s great-great grandson.

    It brings together items from the Darwin archive, preserved at the Library, and a wealth of Darwin collections held around the University.

    Included in the exhibition will be Darwin’s books and correspondence and a letter offering the 22-year-old Cambridge graduate a place on board the Beagle.

    Curator Alison Pearn (cor) of the Darwin Correspondence Project, said: “This is a wonderful and unique opportunity to share the University’s remarkable collections.

    “Individually, the manuscripts and specimens are invaluable to scholars; together they bring Darwin and his ideas powerfully to life in a way that everyone can enjoy for the rest of this Bicentenary year.”

    Share Button
  • Kent University – Revisited

  • UniBy Sarah Strange
    I thought they would come back to me
    Those years I lived in Kent
    In the Sixties when both young and free
    A degree was my intent.
     
    But as the bus came round the hill
    I saw to my dismay
    Though Eliot college stood there still
    There were buildings in its way!
     
    We strolled around the grounds awhile
    Found a cinema on site,
    And library – modernised in style
    PCs, not books, in sight!
     
    Even the bus stop is displaced
    And instead of lawns, paved ways
    Of my time there barely a trace
    What tricks my memory plays!
     
    (c) Poet in the woods 2013
    Share Button
  • How to get your story on the big screen

  • gio

    Gio Messale is president and CEO of GiMe Productions

    by Mary Yuhas

    Gio Messale is president and CEO of GiMe Productions. Most recently, he was part of the producing team for AT&T’s  Love, Making History films: Jenny and Tale of Two  Dads. His first two feature films, Love or Whatever starring Tyler Poelle, Kate Flannery and Jennifer Elise Cox and  Real Heroes will be released in 2014.

    Before taking the leap into the independent producing world, he worked at Paramount Pictures on such films as  J.J. Abrams’ Star TrekIndiana Jones 4MI:3, and Shutter Island directed by Martin Scorsese.  Currently, he is attached to produce: No Baby directed by Matthew Mishory, an Australian film named Skool Night and Kate Danley’s Maggie MacKay Magical Tracker book series.

    LitVote:  What elements in a book make it desirable to turn it into a film.

    Gio:  I always look for something that tells a great story and moves and elevates me, as well as one that takes me out of my current reality. If it works for me, it might work for millions of other people. Also I look for what is the next big thing. In the fantasy world, there were magicians, then vampires, and now zombies and witches. Who knows what will be big two years from now.

    I also consider the author’s fan base. Is the book on the bestsellers list and how many books have been sold? Does that translate into making a profitable film? Is the book a series and does it have franchise capability. The author’s presence in the social media world is very important because the fans will be first in line to buy tickets when the film is released.

    But above all, if I am passionate about the book and can see it as a film, I will find a way to make it. For me, It’s about the story. (more…)

    Share Button
  • For Better Social Skills, Scientists Recommend a Little Chekhov

  • This article first appeared in the New York Times

    Say you are getting ready for a blind date or a job interview. What should you do? Besides shower and shave, of course, it turns out you should read — but not just anything. Something by Chekhov or Alice Munro will help you navigate new social territory better than a potboiler by Danielle Steel.

    That is the conclusion of a study published Thursday in the journal Science. It found that after reading literary fiction, as opposed to popular fiction or serious nonfiction, people performed better on tests measuring empathy, social perception and emotional intelligence — skills that come in especially handy when you are trying to read someone’s body language or gauge what they might be thinking.

    literature-articleInline

    Photo: Casey Kelbaugh
    Emanuele Castano, left, and David Comer Kidd, researchers in the New School for Social Research’s psychology department.

     

    “This is why I love science,” Louise Erdrich, whose novel “The Round House” was used in one of the experiments, wrote in an e-mail. The researchers, she said, “found a way to prove true the intangible benefits of literary fiction.”

    “Thank God the research didn’t find that novels increased tooth decay or blocked up your arteries,” she added.

    The 5-Minute Empathy Workout

    Curious to see how you do on a test of emotional perception?

    The researchers say the reason is that literary fiction often leaves more to the imagination, encouraging readers to make inferences about characters and be sensitive to emotional nuance and complexity.

    The researchers, social psychologists at the New School for Social Research in New York City, recruited their subjects through that über-purveyor of reading material, Amazon.com. To find a broader pool of participants than the usual college students, they used Amazon’s Mechanical Turk service, where people sign up to earn money for completing small jobs.

    People ranging in age from 18 to 75 were recruited for each of five experiments. They were paid $2 or $3 each to read for a few minutes. Some were given excerpts from award-winning literary fiction (Don DeLillo, Wendell Berry). Others were given best sellers like Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl,” a Rosamunde Pilcher romance or a Robert Heinlein science fiction tale…[more]

    Share Button
  • Crowd Sourced Editing

  • butterflyThis article by Alex Blackwell, author of  The Butterfly Effect: It Started on 9/11, first appeared at White Seahorse

    Having written a book, any book, the hardest thing for most authors is working with an editor. An editor’s job is to critically review the writing, perhaps tearing it apart and putting it back together in a form that will appeal to a wider audience.

    Crowd editing The Butterfly Effect

    White Seahorse is looking for more people to read and comment on the book. Buy the book (here), be one of the first to review it and we will reimburse 100% of your costs. Sales have already commenced, and it is a fast read.

    Here is the deal:

    • They will reimburse the full purchase price of the printed or digital book to the first 100 respondents.
    • They will reimburse the full purchase price of the printed or digital book to every 100th respondent after that through to December 31, 2013.
    • All respondents will be eligible for special offers on future White Seahorse Publications…[more]
    Share Button
  • Seamus Heaney Passes Away but Lives on through His Poetry

  • heaneyThis article by Mark Memmott first appeared in NPR.

    Seamus Heaney, “acclaimed by many as the best Irish poet since Yeats,” has died, the BBC and other news outlets are reporting.

    Heaney was 74 and had recently been in ill health. According to The Irish Times, he died Friday morning at the Blackrock Clinic in Dublin. Sky TV has a short statement from Heaney’s family announcing his death. The Associated Press adds that Heaney’s publisher, Faber & Faber, has also confirmed the news.

    Heaney was awarded the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature. Writer and literary critic Ola Larsmo said then that Heaney’s poetry reveals “a profound experience … that a gap exists between the totality of what can be said and the totality of all that can be witnessed, between the limits of languages and the margins of the actual world in which we live. For Heaney ‘poetry’ is a means of measuring this gap – if not bridging it.”

    In 2008, Heaney told All Thing Considered that “I have always thought of poems as stepping stones in one’s own sense of oneself…[more]

    Share Button
  • Why History No Longer Guides Us

  • by Greg Satell, from Digital Tonto

    In 1992, Francis Fukuyama published his book, The End of History in which he argued that, with the cold war over and liberal democracy triumphant, the major historical narrative dialectic of history was over.

    He was, of course, somewhat mistaken.  The world today looks much more like Samuel Huntington’s vision of The Clash of Civilizations than anything else.  There doesn’t seem to be any less division and strife now than before.

    End of History and the Last Man
    However, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that something has fundamentally changed, albeit the shift is technological rather than cultural (a fact which Fukuyama himself alluded to in a later book).  History, as we know it, is over not because we’ve figured it all out, but on the contrary because we’ve unleashed forces that render the future inscrutable.

    1. From Linear Advancement to Accelerating Returns

    For most of history, stasis was the rule.  There were different people, various empires, power struggles and perhaps the occasional discovery, yet life went on pretty much as it always had.  The events we read about in the history books had little impact on most who lived at the time.  A thousand years could go by and daily life would be much the same.

    That’s changed in a resounding way.  Life is substantially different…[more]

    Share Button
  • A Thousand Words of Poetry

  •  by Shelagh Watkins

    A Thousand Words of Poetry
    It’s easy to see why one reviewer called Shelagh Watkins A Thousand Words of Poetry  “beautiful words, beautifully written.”

    The small collection of ten poems had a total word count of one thousand words. This seemed like a good title for a small collection of poetry. Shelagh added ten photographs to the collection of poems and put together the poetry book, A Thousand Words of Poetry.

    The book includes poems that were well received by the literary community. In 2005, Shelagh Watkins’ poem, Hope for a Safer Place, was accepted for inclusion in the anthology, Stories of Strength. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the anthology of short stories and poems helped to raise funds for disaster relief charities.

    The poem was re-published in Soul Feathers in 2010. The anthology of poetry helped to aid the work of Macmillan Cancer Support in the UK. Other poems that have appeared online were equally well received.

    Although Shelagh considers herself to be a writer of fiction, she has written several poems that have been included in the Forever series of anthologies: Forever Friends, Forever Travels and Forever Families. One of the poems received the following comment from a reader of the anthology, Forever Friends:

    “May I say that your poem “Forever Friends” is BEAUTIFUL! Infinite forgiveness… the test of true-blue friendship… Thank you for writing this poem!”  reviewer Sharon Fulham said.

    Share Button
  • All at Once: Excerpt of the Novel

  • I step onto a wide stone platform surrounded by water and lie on my stomach to peer down over the edge. At my approach, tiny fish scatter like drops of colored light; crabs pause, wary, then scuttle along the sides of the basin, stuffing their mouths as fast as they can with alternate pincers. After a while, a kind of brown finger wriggles out from the shadows. Another one emerges, then two more, and finally the bulbous body of an octopus comes into view. It skims along until the water is too shallow then starts to walk, using its tentacles as legs. When the water gets deeper it pushes off against the sandy bottom to glide, once more, just beneath the surface. It circles round and round my platform.

    All at Once

    My back begins to prickle, and I realize I’ll be burnt to a crisp if I don’t find shelter pretty soonthe ocean breeze masks the sun’s virulence.

    Standing up makes me momentarily dizzy. The tide has gone out, uncovering rocks studded with barnacles or slick with thick green hair. I head back toward the flat sand and continue walking, looking for a place to rest. I’ve just about resigned myself to the idea of a plastic chair, when I spot a barraca that’s not open for business. The beach in front of it is empty, the small structure shuttered; its thatched roof casts a nice, wide stripe of shade onto the sand. Gratefully, I set up camp, taking out the water and crackers I brought, spreading out my towel to sit on, and leaning against the barraca wall with the empty backpack in between for cushioning. A sigh of relief.

    The ocean is now more white than blue. At the horizon, a wavering smudge might be a cruise ship or an oil rig. The great mass of water is barely disturbed by shifting waves, fretful and sluggish like a dog settling down to sleep. There’s an occasional bloom of white spray when a wave breaks against rock; wisps of cloud trail across the sky. I yawn, lie down on the towel, and close my eyes.

    Now the landscape is reduced to the rustle of wind in the palm thatch, the faint piping of a distant bird, and the dull roar of the ocean. I stretch my arms and let them flop back down. Rolling my head slowly from side to side to loosen the tension in my neck, I notice that this movement causes the pitch of the ocean to vary ever so slightly. Intrigued, I try it a few more times, just to make sure.

    There’s a lesson in that, I reflect: reality changes according to your viewpoint. I roll my head once more from side to side then lie still again, listening to the tiny, ceaseless fluctuations within the monotone.

    An insect lands on my footwithout opening my eyes I flex my toe to chase it away, and realize that the gesture produced an infinitesimal shift in the ocean sound. Bizarre! I can understand the position of my head influencing what I hear, but the position of my toe? (more…)

    Share Button
  • Mirror Talk

  • Mirror Talk has been described as “A wonderful reflection on the life of an artist and poet” (IndieReader) and a “sharp, witty writing style…reminiscent of a wisecracking reporter Hildy Johnson in the Ben Hecht comedy His Girl Friday or even the ultimate wit – Miss Dorothy Parker herself.” (Silver Birch Press).

    Poet Barbara Alfaro is a recipient of the IndieReader Discovery Award for Best Memoir for Mirror Talk. Memories of her early New York theatre experiences include being a young actress so shy her “thoughts trembled” and cast in an off-Broadway experimental play where she was told by the director, “I am casting you against type, the character you play represents man’s inhumanity to man.”

    As a middle-aged student completing her bachelor’s degree at Goddard College, she chooses classic fairytales as her senior study. “Surely, every prospective employer would like to chitchat with me about The Psychological Meaning of Redemption Motifs in Fairytales by M. L. von Franz.”

     

    Here’s one of Barbara’s poems from Mirror Talk.

     

    ‘BEFORE DARK’, from Mirror Talk

     

    “Home before dark,” our mother’s voice

    trails after my brother and me like a kite tail

    as we scamper to stickball. Sundown

    happens too soon so we run to the blue

    house as if our lives depend on time.

    After supper, in the hallway, I hear

    “She’s got to stop following me around”

    and imagine his pals poking fun at

    a skinny kid sister tagging along.

    Today, I can’t help it; I’m happy.

    God knows why.

    I’m holding on to heaven.

    If I let go, what’s there? Nothing

    but memory and pain.

    I confess I’ve been unfaithful

    to my dreams and my stories,

    leaving them alone and unwritten

    in the distant shimmering house,

    the house they burst forward from,

    rushing and true. I have to keep writing.

    That’s how it is, before dark…

     

     

    Share Button
  • Spotlight on the Alternative Justice System

  • There is a higher probability of doing time in the ‘land of the free’ than in any other country.

    On its way to becoming a prison state with the highest incarceration rate in the world, the U.S. seized the center stage again when it provoked the hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay.

     

    Wall Street Journal reporter and author Jess Bravin (HC ’87) highlights some of the differences between U.S. prisons and Guantanamo and discusses where to try suspected terrorists in this exclusive author interview.

     

    Jess: There’s one tremendous difference. In U.S. prisons, people are there because they have been convicted of a crime and sentenced to a term of years or life. At Guantanamo, as we know, almost no one there has actually been convicted of anything. They’re being held preventatively. (more…)

    Share Button

Recent Articles:

Virtual Writers Workshop – May 4th

Drum Circle 3

Virtual Writers Workshop at the Etopia Island drum circle

The Virtual Writers Workshop brings published authors together with writers for synergy and exchange one Sunday a month at 12 p.m. Eastern time, 9 a.m. Pacific time. Get writing for the next meeting on Sunday, May 4th!

The group offers useful feedback on original fiction, poetry, and lyrics. Writers read their work in the magical ambiance of the Etopia Island in Second Life to the beat of conga drums. After each reading, participants type their real-time reactions in the chat box and discuss each work.

Etopia Island’s virtual venue is the ideal place for this kind of writers’ focus group. Participants as far flung as the Brussels Writers Circle  and Brazil regularly attende. Authors participating in the Virtual Writers Workshop include:

Diane Haithman

Author of the debut novel Dark Lady of Hollywood, released for the Ides of March, 2014, Diane Haithman has worked as Arts and entertainment journalist, and Los Angeles Times Staff Writer. She is a major contributor to Deadline Hollywood industry website and its print publication, Awardsline. She serves on the adjunct faculty of the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism.  Before joining the LA. Times Diane was West Coast Bureau Chief, movie critic and Hollywood columnist for the Detroit Free Press.  She is co-author of The Elder Wisdom Circle Guide for a Meaningful Life (Penguin/Plume 2007). Diane lives in Studio City, California with husband Alan Feldstein and Alley the dog.

charles-223x300Award winning author Charles Degelman is Faculty in Television, Film, & Media Studies at California State University, Los Angeles. His Vietnam novel, Gates of Eden, won an Independent Publishers Book Award. He has also been a finalist in the American Zoetrope Screenplay Competition sponsored by Francis Ford Coppola, the Cal State Media Arts Festival, the Bellwether Prize for Fiction sponsored by Barbara Kingsolver, and the Diane Thomas Screenwriting Awards sponsored by UCLA Writers Program.

His new novel, A Bowl Full of Nails, will be published in 2014.

KaraBennett2Kara Bennett, PhD, is a psychologist and co-founder of the nonprofit organization Elder Voices. She is the author of a film script entitled, ‘The Galaxy Language’. She has worked for many years on community projects in California, teaching about human rights and exploring ways of solving problems without violence and prejudice. She often uses dramatic arts to help people to discover how to create characters that can act in ways that respect both the individual and community. Now seventy years old, she is using the virtual world as a global stage.  Her recent book, Women and Second Life includes an essay she wrote with her colleague, Dr. Susan Patrice, about how virtual worlds can help people understand the effect of human rights on health care. She is completing a book about a new theory of human intelligence, called Mind Dances.

 

SERomeSean Elder, whose writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, Salon, Slate, Oprah, New York Magazine, Men’s Journal, Details and many other publications. His short story, “The Vale of Cashmere,” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and another short story of his, “Stain Removal,” has just been turned into a short film by director Mark Russell. He is currently working on a nonfiction book, “Great Is the Truth: The Horace Mann Sex Scandal and the Secret Life of America’s Perfect Schools” with Amos Kamil, to be published by Farrar, Stauss & Giroux in 2014.

 

BarbaraAlfaro2Barbara Alfaro is a recipient of a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award for her play Dos Madres. 

Mirror Talkher memoir about a Catholic girlhood and working in theatre won the 2012 IndieReader Discovery Award for Best Memoir. Barbara is currently working on a novel tentatively titled Roses and Vices.

 

 

Andrew Binks2Andrew Binks’ first novel, The Summer Between, was published in May 2009, by Nightwood Editions. He recently placed second in Prairie Fire’s 2012 non-fiction contest. His second novel Strip will be published by Nightwood in the fall of 2013. He won honorable mention in the Writer’s Union of Canada’s short prose contest, Glimmertrain’s Family Matters contest, and he was a finalist in the Queen’s University Alumni Review poetry contest, and This Magazine’s “Great Canadian Literary Hunt.” An excerpt of his novel, The Catalytic Seduction of Brian White, was first published in HSE’s Voice from the Planet. His fiction and non-fiction has been published in Joyland, Galleon, Fugue, Prism International, Harrington Gay Men’s Literary Quarterly (U.S.), Bent Magazine, The Globe and Mail, and Xtra, among others.

 

Joss, hippie

Library Journal literary critic, adjunct faculty at Boston University, and award-winning novelist, J. L. Morin, was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2011. She is the author of Trading Dreams, ‘Occupy’s 1st bestselling novel’, and writes for Huffington Post. Her Japan novel Sazzae won a Gold medal in the eLit Book Awards and a Living Now Book Award.

 

 

Stan2Acclaimed author of the collection of short fiction The Fire on Poteau Mountain, Stan Duncan’s writings draw on his experience working as a pastor, jazz pianist, and developmental economist. He is a Harvard Divinity School alumnus, has lived in six countries, and speaks broken English in three languages. Stan has published a book on human rights in El Salvador and four books on economic development in the Third World as well as numerous commentaries for the National Public Radio, and for Huffington Post.

 

 

James StobaughJames P. Stobaugh has a MDiv from the Princeton Theological Seminary, was a Merrill Fellow at Harvard University, and earned a DMin from the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Jim, a Presbyterian pastor, has sold over 60,000 copies of his books in the last three years. His primary market is the growing 2.9 million home educated evangelical Christian community.

 

 

tdolembo2Tom Dolembo, Harvard ’67 English cum laude, MBA ’71, David McCord writing scholar. An excerpt of his novel The Grapes and the Fox appears in HSE’s Above Ground anthology. Tom lives on a farm and bird sanctuary in the village of Kewadin in Northwest Michigan. A native Hoosier born in Michigan City, Indiana, he is the author of numerous tracts, novels, poems, and articles. He can be found near lakes, rivers, streams, and low marshy places often looking for wildlife who are effortlessly avoiding him. His recent writing projects have included an enormous Civil War Trilogy, a shorter book of children’s poems, and filler articles for rural newspapers on raising chickens and astronomy.

 

Alisa

Alisa Clements from Brazil, who read an excerpt from her far-out new sci-fi novel about the Outernet, where people logon to the collective unconscious by meditating, and organize to fight the Top Five corporations before they snowball into one entity and imprison humanity.

The novel, All at Once, was just released in November 2012.

 

WickiWickham Boyle, known as Wicki, wears many hats: journalist, writer, finance consultant and theater producer. She writes about the arts, finance, parenting and travel for The New York Times, Savoy, National Geographic, Budget Travel, and Downtown Express. She was one of the founders of CODE Magazine, and editor-in-chief of THRIVE. Her short story, “Don’t Think You’re Calling Too Much,” appeared in HSE’s Voice from the Planet. Her essays can be heard on the AARP radio stations during their Prime Time show.

 

 

SONY DIGITAL CAMERASoviet author Ruben Varda whose humorous story ‘Consultation’ about a celestial computer class experimenting in virtual worlds was first published in the HSE anthology Voice from the Planet, later reprinted in Cambridge Book Review, and was lauded by British reviewer The Truth about Books, which named Planet ‘Book of the Month’.

 

 

DIRECTIONS TO ETOPIA:

Just create an avatar, download the Second Life Viewer, by clicking on the ‘downloads’ link on the right, launch the viewer application, and go to this location by pasting this link in the browser in the upper left of the Second Life viewer for a primer on how to move your avatar.

…Then, on the first Sunday of the month at 9 a.m. Pacific time, click on Visit Etopia Island and hit then hit the orange  “Teleport Now” button in the middle of the page, and then the gray “Teleport” button at the bottom of the popup to participate in the reading Sunday at 9 a.m. Pacific time when everyone will be here… or  meet us here by pasting this link in the browser in the upper left of the Second Life viewer:

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Etopia%20Island/150/181/22

Chat by typing into the chat box and hitting ‘enter’. To be able to hear the talk, hit CTRL P, and on the preferences screen, lower the volumes on the media, music, and sound effects, and raise the volume on the voice chat. Right click on the drums to play, ‘stand up’ to stop. If you’d like to read, when it’s your turn, press the ‘speak’ button on the bottom of the screen to talk. For best results, use a headset or Mac. Be sure to turn the speaker button off when you’re done talking to avoid feedback (worse than criticism!)

Improve the sound by standing near the person who is talking.

 

 

Share Button

Savior, by Anthony Caplan

Reviewed by Dianne Bylo, Tome Tender

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Coming of Age
Audience: I see no age this would be inappropriate for
Number of Pages: 247
Available from: Amazon

In the literary world, a gem comes along that deserves to be recognized and read. Grab your sunglasses because Savior by Anthony Caplan shines it’s brilliance up there with the rarest of rare finds! Part mystery, part adventure, part psychological thriller, part coming of age, 100% amazing, a non-offensive read for any age!

Al and his son Ricky have lived under the shroud of grief since Mary’s brutal death to cancer, growing more distant, each with their own pain. In an effort to re-kindle a connection, they take a surfing vacation to Guatemala, a place Mary loved, steeped in its ancient lore, beliefs and cultures. Through an innocent purchase of an ancient tablet that reminded Ricky of his mother, father and son are catapulted into the dark world of the Santos Muertos, a cartel bent on global purification and domination. Ricky’s tablet, the Chocomal holds the final secrets that will unleash the Santos Muertos’ diabolical plan.

When Al is taken prisoner, Ricky begins a desperate search to free his father while keeping the tablet safe. Spanning from Guatemala to Canada, his journey is one that legends are made from, his experiences are epic and his ability to improvise grows exponentially. Is there a force watching over him, keeping him safe? Will he find his father before the torture and imprisonment finally end his life?

Using flashbacks and a change of POV, we are carefully guided through this tale of love and sacrifice, determination and the classic good vs evil as Young Ricky takes on a machine far bigger than he to find the father he loves and save the world from devastation and evil dominance.

What can I say, Anthony Caplan has gone above and beyond with Savior by creating a world that is chaotic, frightening, and intriguing all at once! Ricky’s character grows with each page, as you see the love he realizes he has for his father, flawed or not. Al also realizes his mistakes as a father, that he must allow Ricky to make his own way in the world, not living vicariously through his son. Both will do all in their power to save the other, at any cost. Each satellite character is well-defined, fit perfectly into this tale and sometimes provide comedic relief which allowed me to loosen the white knuckle grip I had on my Kindle. Kudos to the talent of Anthony Caplan and his magnetic style as a story teller! If you are looking for something fresh, with dark undertones, yet still filled with love and hope, this is it!

I received this ARC copy from the author in exchange for my honest review.

Share Button

Exclusive Interview with the #1 Bestselling Author of ORPHAN TRAIN

by Mary Yuhas

Number one New York Times-bestselling author of five novels Christina Baker Kline has spun a tale of neglect that resonates from a forgotten corner of American history to the present day.

LitVote:   How did you come to write about the orphan trains?

Orphan Train: A Novel
Christina:  I stumbled on to the story of the orphan trains a decade ago. I was stunned to learn that more than 200,000 abandoned, neglected, or orphaned children had been sent from the East Coast to the Midwest on trains between 1854 and 1929.  The idea of writing about this little-known part of American history percolated for years. About three years ago, I found the key: an appealingly irascible 17-year-old with nothing to lose who pries the story out of a 91-year-old with a hidden past as a train rider. I read more than 300 first-person accounts and dozens of books, attended train-rider reunions, and talked with half a dozen train riders (all between the ages of 90 and 100), and conducted research in Ireland, Minnesota, Maine, and [New York City’s] Lower East Side.

LitVote: The dialogue in your books is so good.  What’s your secret to creating believable exchanges between characters?

Christina:  Dialogue is hard to get right. It has to sound like natural speech, when in fact it’s nothing like it. When you write dialogue, you have to eliminate niceties and unnecessary patter and cut to the core of the exchange — unless the patter is crucial to the story, conveying a dissembling, depressed, incoherent, or boring personality.  (The writer George Garrett called this “dovetailing.”)  At the same time, it has to sound natural, like something someone would really say.

LitVote:  How do you get into the writing mood?

Christina:  When I’m starting work on a novel I gather scraps like a magpie. (more…)

Share Button

Eileen Cronin’s memoir, Mermaid, selected for The Oprah Magazine

second eileen croninby Mary Yuhas

Interview with a woman born without legs about forging your own way

In January, 2014, WW Norton released Mermaid: A Memoir of Resilience, and in February of 2014, it was in The Oprah Magazine’s “10 Titles to Pick Up Now.”  It was also included on Page One in Poets & Writers.

Mermaid is about growing up in the Midwest as a middle child among eleven, with a mother who fought mental illness, while Eileen battled serious birth defects. Reviewers loved this damaged but hilarious family, and it’s a classic Irish Catholic story from the 60s.

Before Mermaid, she won the Washington Writing Prize in short fiction, and had a notable essay in Best American Essays. She published in the Washington Post and other venues. She practice clinical psychology in Los Angeles, where she lives with her husband and daughter.

LitVote:  Did you submit your book, Mermaid: A Memoir of Resilience, to The Oprah Magazine to be considered for, “10 Titles to Pick Up Now,” or did the magazine find you?

Mermaid: A Memoir of Resilience
Eileen:  My publicist at Norton submitted the book. The publicists submit galleys to numerous venues in anticipation of publication.

LitVote:  You faced considerable obstacles growing up. You were born without legs – one ended at the knee and one above it. Your fingers on your left hand were webbed until a plastic surgeon reshaped them. And your mother had serious mental problems. Yet, you never gave up. What influenced you to go forward?

Eileen:  I didn’t see myself as different and that may have been because my family accepted me or because they were too pre-occupied to indulge me, given that there were eleven children. (more…)

Share Button

Interview with Vera Lam, author of THE LONELY AMERICAN

Vera Lam

Vera Lam

Inspirational and unforgettable, bilingual novel depicts the American war in Vietnam as it has never been portrayed before. Vera’s novel was just released in March 2014.

LitVote:  How did you, an entrepreneur and executive in Silicon Valley, take up writing novels in the first place?

Vera: I started writing dairy when I eight or nine.  My diary was my best little friend.  I would tell her everything – when I was scared, when I was happy, when I was sad. In many ways writing was a way to channel my feelings and to record incidents that had happened in my life.  The reasons for writing The Lonely American are more or less the same.

LitVote: Was there a particular theme or question that inspired you to write your novel?

Vera: I began writing the book several months after my father died. His passing brought back memories, both happy and sad memories that I had wanted to erase from my mind. My father was a brilliant military strategist. He told us lots of war stories. That was almost all he talked about at the dinner table.

LitVote: How long did it take you to write the novel?

Vera: It took me 6 years to complete the English version of The Lonely American, and one year to translate it into traditional Chinese text.

LonelyAmericanLitVote:  The Lonely American is dedicated to your father and all the soldiers and civilians who died in the Vietnam War. Why?

Vera: The Vietnam war began in 1954 and ended in April 30 1975.  During those 20-plus years, 1.4 million soldiers  and 4 millions civilians died or wounded. I consider myself very fortunate to have survived through that horrific war.

Why I dedicate this book to my father? In my mind, my father was an unsung hero. He dedicated the best part of his life to serve his country (Taiwan) for over there decades. He placed his duties and responsibilities to his country before his own family. I think that’s quite admirable.

LitVote: How much did you know about your father’s true occupation when you were in Vietnam?

Vera: Very little. He disguised as a businessman. He travelled a lot and he had a lot of friends from foreign countries. (more…)

Share Button

10 Reasons Indie Authors Will Capture 50% of the Ebook Market by 2020

modeling copy

The founder of self-publishing platform Smashwords, Mark Coker predicts that “indie ebooks will account for 50% of ebook sales by 2020.”

There’s a debate raging about the size of the self publishing market.

I think indie ebooks will account for 50% of ebook sales by 2020.

What do you think?

On one side of the debate, you have folks such as myself who believe all signs point toward indie ebook authors capturing an ever-greater percentage of the ebook market.

On the other side you have folks who think self publishing represents an insignificant portion of the book  market.  The naysayers think we indie optimists are delusional.

Could both sides be right?  Yes, if you look at the numbers as they stand today, and no if you look at the trends.

When you look at the trends, a new picture emerges.  Yes, I understand it can be dangerous to extrapolate trends.  Any number of events can strike to disrupt or reverse a trend.  But if you have confidence in the drivers of a trend, and you think the wind in the sails of these drivers will blow stronger not weaker, then the future becomes plain as day.

It’s easy for a naysayer to poo-poo this 4.5% as evidence that despite all the noise about the indie revolution, traditional publishing is still the main game in town.  Do these naysayers see the writing on the wall of where this is all leading?

There are some early signs publishers are beginning to feel the heat from self published authors, and it comes from Harlequin, the grand dame of romance publishing.  In Harlequin’s management discussion portion of its 2013 earnings announcement (released March 4, 2014), the company for first time cited self publishing as a potential competitive risk:  “The proliferation of less expensive, and free, self-published works could negatively impact Harlequin’s revenues in the future.” (hat tip Publishers Lunch).   View the report here (opens a PDF).

I’m sure there will be those who criticize my 2013-2020 estimates for being wildly optimistic, or crazily conservative.  Only time will tell.  My primary concerns are the general trends, the drivers of these trends, and what these trends mean for the writers we serve.

As I look to the future, I think the numbers start looking really exciting if you’re in the indie author’s shoes, and scary if you’re a Big 5 publisher.  In my spreadsheet, I see indie authors accounting for 50% of ebook sales by the year 2020.  I think my estimates are fairly conservative.  Some people today think indie ebooks already account for 25% or more of ebook sales.  I’m modeling a steady but gradual shift from print to ebooks, and a steady but gradual increase in the indie ebook market share.

If my projections come to pass, indie authors will control over one third (35%) of the overall trade book market in seven years.  Go ahead, call me crazy or delusional.  I don’t mind.

Below, I’ll explain why my numbers are more achievable than the naysayers think.

10 Reasons Indie Authors Will Capture Half of the Ebook Market by 2020

  1. Print will continue to decline as a book-reading format as more readers transition to screens. The transition to screens will be driven by the low prices, selection, exceptional discoverability and instant reading pleasure delivered by ebooks.
  2. Brick and mortar bookstores will continue their march into the sunset with more store closures.  I’m not happy about this, but I don’t see the trend reversing unless bookstores start serving wine and pot brownies in their cafes.
  3. The perceived value of publishers will decline in the eyes of writers as the importance of print distribution declines.  Print distribution is an important glue that holds many writers to their traditional publishers.  When publisher stickiness decreases, writers will be tempted to explore the indie author camp.
  4. Indie authors have learned to publish like professionals, which means self publishing will lead to more better books, and more diversity of better books.   The professionalism and sophistication of indie authors has increased dramatically in the six years since we launched Smashwords, and this professionalism will increase in the future as indies pioneer tomorrow’s best practices.  These authors are publishing books that are quality-competitive with traditionally published books, but priced dramatically lower.  As a result, these authors have the ability to under-price, outsell and out-compete the ebooks from traditional publishers.  It means indie authors will have platform-building advantages over traditionally published authors.
  5. The number of self-published ebooks will explode, and these ebooks will continue to enjoy democratized access to professional publishing and distribution tools such as Smashwords, and democratized access to global online retail distribution (every major ebook store wants to carry self-published ebooks).  Every author – even indie authors – will face increased competition from the glut of high quality works that never go out of print.
  6. The most successful indie authors are mentoring the next generation of authors.  Indie authors act like a vast publishing collective of writers helping writers.
  7. The stigma once associated with self publishing is melting away at the same time the stigma of traditional publishing is on the rise.  Indie authors are in the cool kids club now.  They know they can publish with pride and professionalism, and they’re developing teflon skin that deflects the once ego-bruising criticism levied by self publishing naysayers.  If you haven’t been to a writers conference lately, go to one.  A few years ago, writers would leave conferences depressed in the knowledge that their dream agent only accepts one in 10,000 queries.  Today, writers attend conferences and learn to self publish like a pro.  They leave the conference upbeat in the knowledge that one way or another, they’ll publish their book their way.
  8. Writers are discovering the joy of self publishing. If publishers are from Mars, authors are from Venus.  They speak different languages and hold different values. The rewards of self publishing transcend the conventional and myopic commercial metric value systems of publishers.  Indie authors are enjoying total creative control, faster time to market, ownership over their publishing future, and the flexibility to innovate and evolve their immortal ebooks which will never go out of print.  Indie authors enjoy the freedom to serve their fans as they want to serve them.  Icing on the indie author’s cake: Indie ebook authors earn royalty rates 4-5 times higher than they’d earn from traditional publishers.
  9. Readers don’t care about the publisher name on the ebook’s virtual spine.  The brand they care about is the author brand. Indie authors are learning to build their own brands.
  10. The growing rift between writers and publishers will cause the next generation of writers to avoid shopping their books to publishers, and will undermine the goodwill of writers who until now have been loyal to their traditional publishers.  Writers are angry.  After centuries of living on the bottom rung of the publishing ladder, they’re feeling their oats and relishing their new-found power and respect.  I wrote about this last week for Publishers Weekly in my opinion piece, Hugh Howey and the Indie Author Revolt (may require registration).

(via the Smashwords Blog)

Share Button

Paul Tremblay: How to successfully write short stories

paul tramblay By Mary Yuhas

Paul Tremblay, author of the novels The Little SleepNo Sleep Till Wonderland, Swallowing a Donkey’s Eye, and the forthcoming novels Floating Boy and the Girl Who Couldn’t Fly (with Stephen Graham Jones) and A Head Full of Ghosts (coming in 2015 from William Morrow), talks to LitVote about how to write short stories. He has published enough of them to know: two short story collections, Compositions for the Young and Old and In the Mean Time. His essays and short fiction have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Five Chapters.com, and Best American Fantasy 3. He is the co-editor of four anthologies including Creatures: Thirty Years of Monster Stories (with John Langan).

LitVote: You are a high school mathematics teacher and write horror/mystery/crime, an unlikely combination. How did that happen?

Paul:  I’m not quite sure to be honest. I didn’t even start messing around with writing until after I started teaching math.

Being a math geek in high school in college, I finally fell in love with reading while I was a mathematics graduate student at the University of Vermont. (more…)

Share Button

32 Book Awards Authors Should Pursue

 By Scott Lorenz

“Do book awards matter?”  YES!!

As a book publicist I am here to inform you that yes, they absolutely do matter! In fact, one of my clients won the prestigious Los Angeles Book Festival award. That then led to a flurry of media interest, which subsequently led to a major New York agent deciding to represent the book and pitch it to all the major publishing houses. Deals are in the offing. This author, needless to say, is happy he decided to enter.

Pursuing and winning book awards will give you another opportunity to reach out to the media, booksellers and agents. As a book publicist I see the media perk up when an author client has received an award. It’s the added credibility that gives them the assurance that the book is worthwhile. It takes the risk out of the equation for the producer or reporter if it’s an ‘award winning’ book.

Awards also create interest in your book, which can lead to more sales and other opportunities.  A book award may cause someone to stop in their tracks and consider picking up your book in a book store.  A book award can give you an edge and sometimes that’s all the difference you need to propel your book into bestseller territory. If you win you can say you are an “award winning author.” Doesn’t that sound better? Of course it does, and you get a little magic that comes from a third party endorsement because an authority says your work is worthy, and that’s priceless.

Most awards charge a fee to enter. Not all awards have a category for your genre and not all of these will work for every book.

Here’s a list of my Top 32 book awards worthy of your consideration.

Share Button

Church spent $200K to put pastor’s book on bestseller list

mark_driscoll4

Mark Driscoll, photo www.talormarshall.com

By  Published: Mar 7, 2014

SEATTLE  A popular local church – steeped in controversy – is once again under the microscope, following allegations the head pastor may have used church funds to promote his own book.

Pastor Mark Driscoll, leader of Mars Hill Church, reportedly used more than $200,000 to land his book on the New York Times bestseller list. The book, “Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together,” appeared on the list for one week in January 2012 and then fell off the list, but Driscoll paid the six-figure sum to a California-based company to climb the charts, according to documents obtained by WORLD Magazine, a publication that covers religion.

“The idea was to make it look like all of these books were spontaneously bought by individuals,” WORLD reporter Warren Cole Smith told KOMO News. “All the major bestseller lists discourage the practice and they put safeguards in place to prevent people buying their way onto the New York Times bestseller list.” (more…)

Share Button

Publishers withdraw more than 120 gibberish papers

LaptoponvacayConference proceedings removed from subscription databases after scientist reveals that they were computer-generated.

Richard Van Noorden

25 February 2014

The publishers Springer and IEEE are removing more than 120 papers from their subscription services after a French researcher discovered that the works were computer-generated nonsense.

Over the past two years, computer scientist Cyril Labbé of Joseph Fourier University in Grenoble, France, has catalogued computer-generated papers that made it into more than 30 published conference proceedings between 2008 and 2013. Sixteen appeared in publications by Springer, which is headquartered in Heidelberg, Germany, and more than 100 were published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), based in New York. Both publishers, which were privately informed by Labbé, say that they are now removing the papers. (more…)

Share Button

Dave Zeltserman

From software engineer to award winning crime, horror and mystery writer

By Mary Yuhas

David Zeltserman lives in the Boston area with his wife, Judy, and is an award winning crime, horror and mystery writer. His crime novels have been named by both The Washington Post and NPR as best books of the year, and his mystery short fiction has won the Shamus, Derringer and Ellery Queen’s Readers Choice award (twice). Zeltserman’s  first published horror novel, The Caretaker of Lorne Field, was a Black Quill nominee for Best Dark Genre Novel of the Year, was short listed by the American Library Association for Best Horror Novel of 2010, and was recently named by Library Journal as one of their horror gems. His  most recent horror novel, Monster, was named on Booklist Magazine’s 2013 list of top ten horror novels. Zeltserman has an upcoming horror novel, The Boy Who Killed Demons, out later this year, and his novel, Outsourced, is currently in development with Impact Pictures and Constantin Film. It is scheduled for production later this year.

LitVote:  You are a prolific writer and have won numerous awards for crime, horror and mystery novels and short stories. How did you choose this genre?

Dave:  I always read a lot as a kid, and I went through different phases with my reading. At one point I was reading a lot of pulp fantasy and horror fiction from Robert E. Howard and H. P. Lovecraft, and then later I moved onto science fiction with Ray Bradbury and Harlan Ellison being my favorites in the genre. But it was when I picked up a dog-eared copy of Mickey Spillane’s ‘I, the Jury’ at my uncle’s house one summer in Maine that I became forever hooked on crime fiction. From there I discovered Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain, Ross Macdonald, Rex Stout, Jim Thompson, Charles Willeford, and many other great mystery and crime writers. There’s a power and intimacy in great crime fiction that I didn’t find in the other genres I was reading. Morality is often shown in shades of gray and the world is a dangerous place. And there’s nothing quite as thrilling as reading a great noir novel, like James M. Cain’s Double Indemnity or  Jim Thompson’s Savage Night, where you’re fooled into thinking  that redemption and hope is possible for the protagonist only to discover over the course of the book how broken the guy is as you watch him being dragged into the abyss. Since these are the types of books I love reading, these are the types of books I was initially drawn to write. (more…)

Share Button

Alice in Wonderland creator loathed fame, letter reveals

Charles Dodgson

Charles Dodgson in 1885: ‘We are not all made on the same pattern.’ Photograph: SSPL/Getty Images

Charles Dodgson is known to have been a shy man, but the author of Alice in Wonderland so hated the fame his fiction brought him that he sometimes wished he “had never written any books at all”, a letter being auctioned next month shows.

The handwritten letter, which is not believed to have been published before, was sent by Dodgson to his friend Mrs Symonds in 1891. By this time, he had been known as the creator of the Alice books – which he wrote under his pseudonym Lewis Carroll – for almost 30 years; even Queen Victoria was said to be a fan. But Dodgson hated the celebrity his writing had brought him.

“All that sort of publicity leads to strangers hearing of my real name in connection with the books, and to my being pointed out to, and stared at by, strangers, and treated as a ‘lion’. And I hate all that so intensely that sometimes I almost wish I had never written any books at all,” Dodgson told his friend.

The author loathed giving out his autograph; the year before he wrote to Mrs Symonds, he had The Stranger Circular printed, a letter he would send to fans seeking his autograph in which he refused to have anything to do with works he had published as Lewis Carroll. “Mr Dodgson … neither claims nor acknowledges any connection with any pseudonym, or with any book that is not published under his own name,” it ran. “Having therefore no claim to retain, or even to read the enclosed [letter], he returns it for the convenience of the writer who has thus misaddressed it.”

In his 9 November 1891 letter to Mrs Symonds, Dodgson does admit there are plenty of people “who like being looked at as a notoriety”, and many who do not understand his aversion to being stared at. But “we are not all made on the same pattern: & our likes & dislikes are very different,” he writes.

The letter is due to be auctioned at Bonhams next month, and is expected to fetch up to £4,000. The auction house said there was “no indication” that the missive had previously been published; it does not appear in Dodgson’s collected letters.

(via The Guardian)

Share Button

Interview with Paul Levine – NY Times Bestselling author and producer/screenwriter

By Mary Yuhas

PAUL LEVINE HEADSHOTPaul Levine is the author of 18 novels, won the John D. MacDonald fiction award and was nominated for the Edgar, Macavity, International Thriller, and James Thurber prizes. A former trial lawyer, he also wrote more than 20 episodes of the CBS military drama “JAG” and co-created the Supreme Court drama “First Monday” starring James Garner and Joe Mantegna. The critically acclaimed international bestseller To Speak for the Dead featuring Jake Lassiter was his first novel. Levine is also the author of the Solomon vs. Lord series and the thrillers Illegal, Ballistic, Impact, and Paydirt. His most recent novel is State vs. Lassiter. He is a graduate of Penn State University and the University of Miami Law School. Levine lives in Miami, More at paul-levine.com

Lit Vote:  How did you begin your writing career?

Paul:  I blame windsurfing.

I was on vacation in Maui and got injured windsurfing off the North Shore. It was hard to walk so for two weeks, I had nothing to do but lie on the beach. I had a pen and a yellow legal pad, which was useful because at the time, I was a lawyer. I was thinking about a case of mine in which an old man’s busty secretary set up the theft of $2 million in negotiable bonds from his home office. In real life, the story was fairly boring. I got the bonds back; no one went to jail, but I saw possibilities for fiction…involving windsurfing. So I scribbled one sentence on the legal pad: “The old man loved money, gadgets, and large-breasted women, and at the moment, he had all three.” (more…)

Share Button

For Cheating Husbands, A Little Dose Of Revenge

by SARAH WENDELL

Everything I Know about Love I Learned from Romance Novels
Sarah Wendell is the author of the book, Everything I Know about Love I Learned from Romance Novels. She is also the cofounder of the romance-reviewing website, smartbitchestrashybooks.com.

With French President Francois Hollande the focus of international headlines for cheating on his partner, Valerie Trierweiler — who is in the hospital due to the shock — a happy resolution to their problems seems unlikely.

It’s hard not to sympathize with a woman who has been betrayed and must deal with the fallout while her relationship drama is part of the news cycle around the world. Whether the gossip is local or international, personal problems always seem even worse when everyone knows about them.

Which is why the most satisfying literary accompaniment to this story is one of the very best and most rigorous revenge stories in print:The First Wives Club by the late Olivia Goldsmith. Three women, each abandoned in humiliating fashion after their husbands become successful and trade them in for younger, slimmer women, come together after the suicide of Cynthia, another friend in their same predicament. They realize that they’d been hiding their pain from one another. As one of the women wonders, “Why was it that the deepest pain, the despair, was so shameful even good friends kept it secret?”

But for these ladies, it’s impossible to keep their scandals or their pain a secret, which is why it’s satisfying to see the First Wives decide to exact revenge so very publicly. If you’ve seen the movie version, which starred Goldie Hawn, Bette Midler, and Diane Keaton, expect a slightly different story in the book. It’s sharper and more biting than the film, with bleak honesty sharpened into a knife-point deadly sense of humor.

Their revenge is not just served cold. It’s Costco-sized. One ex is arrested in front of a billion dollar’s worth of clients in his own gallery while his new wife cries loud and fickle tears. Another sees his priceless art collection sold by his ex-wife for $1 when he tells her to just take care of it and send him the profits. There are little scores and big destruction, depending on the crimes of the exes in question. The worst is reserved for Cynthia’s former husband, as her suicide brought them together so they could bring him down. It’s a fantastic scene of outsized retribution involving a Jaguar, and all of New York’s high society.

This story doesn’t exactly end with a kiss or a ring. But the happily ever after for the ladies in The First Wives Club is a real one: They get mad, they get even, and then they move on.

(via NPR)

Share Button

Anatomy of Awards

by Staff at Poets and Writers

In the six issues published in 2013, Poets & Writers Magazine’s Grants & Awards section, the editorial feature announcing both contest deadlines and recent winners, listed 862 winning poets, writers, and translators—a modest increase over the 844 who were listed in 2012.P&W

Together, the 2013 winners received a total of $8,231,160—a decrease of more than a million dollars compared with the previous year’s total. The number of winning poets and translators increased, however, with poets comprising nearly half of all prizewinners, and the number of translators more than doubling. The charts above take a closer look at the numbers behind Grants & Awards.

(via Poets & Writers)

Share Button

Memoirs written by a hired pen

DreamersNight

© DreamersNight

This article by Emma Jacobs first appeared in the Financial Times

Ghostwriter Andrew Crofts is used to lurking in the literary shadows. If they are very lucky, ghostwriters may be acknowledged on the cover as a co-author. More often they are invisible to the reader. By the standards of most of his peers, Mr Crofts has enjoyed rare celebrity. His guide for aspiring ghostwriters was quoted in the Robert Harris thriller The Ghost, later turned into a film by Roman Polanski.

But it is low-profile work on the whole. “You know the deal of ghostwriting from day one,” he says. “You know your name won’t be on the cover. If you were a speech writer and your speech was delivered by Barack Obama and it got him into the White House, you wouldn’t [be upset].”

As Christmas approaches and booksellers prominently display this year’s batch of celebrity memoirs, the chances are that it is a ghostwriter who has turned hazy memories into eloquent sentences. Celebrity sells. In the UK, for example, the bestseller lists have been dominated by memoirs of the famous, such as the ghostwritten autobiography of Sir Alex Ferguson, the former Manchester United manager, and the life story of The Smiths’ frontman Morrissey, although the latter was written by the singer himself.

Ghostwriters such as Mr Crofts are hired by publishers to write on behalf of actors, sports personalities, politicians, chefs, pop stars, entrepreneurs or Z-list celebrities, whose memoirs are pushed on to the market before the public forgets who they are.

Why do it? One reason is money – the work can prove lucrative. Ghostwriters can make up to $300,000 a year, according to Madeleine Morel, a New York-based literary agent who specialises in representing ghostwriters. Ms Morel has match-made writers with celebrities ranging from “British royalty to Hollywood royalty”. Typically, she says, an author will make $40,000 to $70,000 a book, although a fair few will earn $100,000. (more…)

Share Button

50 Shades Tests Positive for Herpes Virus

Herpes virus

Herpes virus envelope surrounding an icosahedral capsid, © Linda M Stannard

Two Belgian professors decided to run bacteriology and toxicology tests on the 10 most popular books in the Antwerp library.

The results? All 10 had traces of cocaine, but only Fifty Shades of Grey tested positive for traces of the herpes virus.

The professors say the amount of virus found was so minimal that it poses no risk to public health — but it’s still undeniably gross, another argument for eBooks… [more Time]

Share Button

Nobel Prize winner Doris Lessing dies at 94

The literary world mourns on hearing that Doris Lessing, the Nobel-prize winning author of The Golden Notebook and The Grass is Singing, among more than 50 novels covering subjects from politics to science fiction, died peacefully on November 17th at her London home aged 94.

“They said, you will never get the Nobel Prize because we don’t like you, and they sent a special official to tell me so,” Lessing said in 2007 when she won the prize. “I mean the whole thing is so graceless and stupid. And bad-mannered. That’s what they are.

Doris Lessing reacts to winning the Nobel Prize

Her younger son, Peter, whom she cared for through years of illness, died three weeks ago.

The biographer Michael Holroyd, her friend and executor, said her contribution to literature was “outstandingly rich and innovative”. He called her themes “universal and international … They ranged from the problems of post-colonial Africa to the politics of nuclear power, the emergence of a new woman’s voice and the spiritual dimensions of 20th-century civilisation. Few writers have as broad a range of subject and sympathy…[more from the Guardian]

Share Button

Author Interview: Anthony Caplan

Anthony Caplan is an independent writer, teacher and homesteader in northern New England has just launched his crowdfunding campaign for his novel on Indiegogo.

Litvote: Tell us a little about yourself and your writing.

Anthony: I’ve been writing fiction for longer than I like to admit. I have three self-published titles and SAVIOR is my first published novel. When I’m not writing I’m teaching high school Spanish, raising three kids and trying to manage a small self-sufficient homestead in central New Hampshire.

Litvote: You are crowd-funding your next book. What’s that all about?

Anthony: It’s an attempt to raise some funds for publicity and marketing of Savior because it deserves to find an audience and that doesn’t happen by accident. I don’t mind wearing a hat other than author in order to see the book have some success. The cool thing about crowd funding as it’s currently configured is that you don’t have to be commercially savvy in terms of marketing know-how. It sometimes pays to be genuinely an amateur.

(more…)

Share Button

The brave new world of agenting according to Andrew Lownie, Literary Agent

lownie.andrew03

Andre Lownie, Literary Agent

by Mary Yuhas

Authors use lawyers instead of literary agents; publishers act as agents; and writers become “brands” — these are only a few of the huge changes that are already impacting how literary agents work with their authors, says Andrew Lownie, the top selling agent in the world according to publishersmarketplace.com rankings. Andrew has had by far the most book deals (62) in the last 12 months. The second and third ranking agents had 56 and 55 deals in the past year.

 

Lownie founded the  Andrew Lownie Literary Agency Ltd,  in 1988. Today it is one of the UK’s leading boutique literary agencies with some two hundred non-fiction and fiction authors and is actively building its fiction list through new agent David Haviland. It prides itself on its personal attention to its clients and specializes both in launching new writers and taking established writers to a new level of recognition.

 

LitVote: How is the book market changing?

Andrew:  There are growing opportunities provided by digital publishing, social media and online. In the UK publishers are increasingly commissioning not for the bookshops, where pre-orders are low, but to the supermarkets, and they (the publishers) are looking to obtain as many rights—especially foreign rights—as possible in order to defer their risk.  In effect, the publishers are becoming agents. My list has changed substantially in the last few years from heavyweight history and biography to celebrity or inspirational memoir and a high percentage of sales are books, which are ghosted. (more…)

Share Button

Inside a Kickstarter Crowd Funding Campaign

CrFundTempleMtHear the inside scoop on author Keith Raffel’s Kickstarter campaign for his fifth novel, currently in progress, Temple Mount. The practice of raising small amounts of capital from a large number of people to finance new business ventures started with the British rock band Marillion raising $60,000 on the Internet to finance a concert tour of the United States 15 years ago. Kickstarter, a leading crowd-funding platform, has launched 45,000 projects, involving 4.5 million investors and has raised more than $700 million. In the past year, crowd-funding platforms such as Indiegogo, Crowdfunder, and Pozible have mushroomed in the US, the United Kingdom and Australia.

LitVote: How did your Kickstarter campaign go?

Keith: Absolutely no complaints. The way Kickstarter works is you set a goal. If you make or exceed it, you get the money. If not, you get none. I set a goal of $18,000 and raised $18,746. Perfect.

LitVote: What are the pros and cons of cloud campaigning — any do’s and don’ts or grains of wisdom?

Keith: Only 2% of the money raised came through people who found the project through Kickstarter. 98% came from fans, friends, and family who heard from me or who heard from one of those fans, friends, or family members. Others may be able to tell a story on Kickstarter that will pull at the heartstrings of strangers. If you cannot, you need to have a solid base of people who are fans of your books or of you or of both to be successful… (more…)

Share Button

What Does Literary Agent Peter Rubie Really Want?

By Author Mary Yuhas, who has over 60,000 reads on Scribd of the first three chapters of her memoir, Quit and Be Quiet, about growing up with a severely mentally ill mother.

Literary agent and CEO of Fine Print Literary Management, Peter Rubie, says he isn’t literary snob, but after some consideration, adds, “Maybe I am.” A former professional jazz musician and member of the NYU faculty for 10 years, Peter taught the only university-level course in the country on how to become a literary agent.

Peter enjoys helping writers with technique—see the video!

LitVote: What is your advice to writers wanting to break into the industry?

Peter: This is one of those questions that appears simple and yet engenders within it a world of topics and conflicting advice. So, I’ll hesitantly, and I’m afraid very superficially, lend my voice to the Babel of voices already out there. I think the tyro writer who aspires to be a professional needs to think about two things: first of all, really learn your craft, understand that words are tools, and don’t use phrases like “fiction novel,” for example, so I have confidence that you know how to use (more…)

Share Button

Book Marketing Doggy Style

Dog Sniff

photo by MFNature

This article first appeared in Book Marketing BuzzBlog

I was at the dog run with Daisy, my nearly four-year old English Bulldog.  She loves it there and I love watching her get her ya-yas out on the field of grass that’s been touched by the paws and hearts of so many jumping, running, and tail-wagging dogs.  It dawned on me that dogs can do a great job of marketing themselves.  

Perhaps authors and book publishers can learn a few things from our canine companions.  For instance:

1.      Dogs are strangers to one another but they instantly meet and greet those around them.  They fearlessly know how to work a room.  You should be just as open and free-spirited as them and just say hi to others and introduce yourself to anyone who will listen.

2.      Dogs are excellent at using body language to convey a point.  We rely so often on our words to communicate with others, but give thought to your body movements, your eye contact, your appearance, and your vibe…[more]

Share Button

Margot, by Jillian Cantor

This book review by JL Morin first appeared in Library Journal.

The novel Margot by Jillian Cantor. Riverhead: Penguin Group. September, 2013. 352p. ISBN 9781594486432. $16.

YA author Cantor’s second adult novel (after The Transformation of Things), which explores what might have happened if Anne Frank’s older sister had survived World War II, exerts its grip on the reader from the start and doesn’t let go. In postwar Philadelpha Margot works incognito (as Margie Franklin) in a law firm passing as a Gentile, wearing long-sleeve sweaters in the summer heat to cover her concentration camp tattoo while combing the telephone book for Peter, whose family had been in hiding with Franks in Amsterdam. Peter had promised to meet Margot in the city of brotherly love after the war. Margie’s yearning for Peter threatens to produce results just as she’s falling in love with her boss, who plans to fight discrimination against Jewish workers in America through group litigation. Readers will keep turning pages to find out whether the story of the “‘ghost” of Margot is magical realism or whether Cantor’s Margot didn’t really die at the age of 19, two days before her sister Anne in 1945, but instead escaped the Nazis to start over in Philadelphia. VERDICT Cantor’s deft juxtaposition of the specter of Nazi Germany on the American psyche in the days of Marilyn Monroe reveals itself with unexpected force, although her disregard for Margot’s actual history throws into question the novel’s dramatization of the Nazi war camps.—J.L. Morin, Boston Univ.


Share Button

The Vale of Cashmere

by Sean Elder

green forest

This story first appeared in Voice from the Planet.

 

Truth was, she used to be able to organize her thoughts, until Floyd retired. Now he was always hanging around talking to her, asking what she was doing. Every time he went out, which wasn’t often enough for her taste, he would ask her if she needed anything and then look angry if she did. Sometimes he’d look angry if she didn’t. Now she looked for errands for him, just to get a moment’s peace. When she sent him off for milk this morning she could have lived without it. But she couldn’t have stood listening to him complain about the bus ride to Atlantic City before it happened, not non-stop for the next two hours.

“You’re creating your future,” she told him. “Whatever you’re thinking and feeling, that becomes your reality.”

“Don’t give me that shit,” he’d said, putting on his coat and hat. He had been wearing that same damned hat with the stingy brim so long it had come back in style.

“It’s the law of attraction,” she’d continued. “You can deny it all you want but that don’t mean it’s not true. “Everything coming into your life you are attracting into your life. You’re like a magnet.”

“Well, this magnet’s going to attract some milk,” he’d said before going out the door.

He had made fun of her ever since she first heard Oprah talking about The Secret but deep down she thought that maybe he believed her. Or would, if he would just give it a try. He would come home so angry about something that happened out there – the security guy asleep in the chair, or someone who wouldn’t give his seat up on the subway – and she would tell him, “Every bad thing that comes into your life, you make happen.”

Sometimes that really made Floyd angry. “Is that right? Every bad thing? I made happen every bad thing that came into my life, Marcy?” He would tower over her, breathing heavily, staring at the top of her lacquered hair until she was silent.

She looked closely at the big digits on the clock by the bed. It was almost 8:30 and she still had not done her makeup. From the drawer in the nightstand on her side of the bed she looked for her own pill organizer and then realized she had already taken it out. She put it under the light, right beside that picture of her two boys, smiling in the lap of a black Santa, and looked at Wednesday. There were still pills in the morning box but the evening box was empty. Maybe she took the evening pills by mistake. Not that it mattered ‘cause they were basically the same. Or maybe she hadn’t filled the PM part.

Looking at the rainbow colored compartments (Wednesday was green, Thursday red) she thought of Wilson, who had the hardest time with his R’s when he was little – “Weeding Wainbow,” he would say about his favorite show, and his brother would laugh at him. She felt overcome for a moment and then heard her husband’s keys in the door.

She took the morning pills, four altogether, as Floyd shouted at her from the kitchen.

“Do you know how much they wanted for a half-gallon of milk?” She imagined his face as he said the price and the way he would look at her afterwards. He might be looking that way right now, even though she wasn’t there.

“Cost of everything is going up,” she yelled back. Then she stood and headed for the bathroom. “I got to get a move on.”

“Ain’t you even going to drink your milk?” She heard him swear as she closed the bathroom door.

The bus driver turned out to be some white guy who’d been sleeping in the back while people waited outside. The whole bus was talking about it, even after they got out of the Holland Tunnel and were getting on the turnpike, people tisking and hmm-hmming until Floyd wanted to yell, “Who told you to stand out there in the first place? It’s not even cold.” But he kept quiet and sat by a window, alone thank you very much, though Tommy insisted on sitting right in front of him, while Marcy huddled on the other side with a bunch of ladies. They outnumbered the men five to one anyway; he let Tommy represent, going back and forth across the aisle like some congressman making a deal. Each time he went over to the ladies he would say something so low that Floyd couldn’t hear and they would all laugh and holler.

“I think it’s about time for some music,” Tommy said after one of his sorties. He had a gym bag with him that also said Mets on it, and from it he pulled a boom box that he tried to balance on the seatback in front of him. He pushed play and Johnnie Taylor started in on “Who’s Making Love” and the ladies all laughed, even though the sound was kind of wobbly. From the front of the bus the driver said something, they could see him looking at them in the rear view mirror, but no one tried to hear him. In fact Tommy stood up, with the boom box on his shoulder, and started to shake it in the aisle, which made the driver get on the mike.

“Sir, I’m going to have to ask you to sit down.” He had some kind of accent, Russian or something, but no one really paid him any mind.

The hits kept coming; it must have been some kind of collection since Floyd never heard a deejay. Tommy jammed the boom box between the headrest and the window so it wouldn’t fall down and turned around to look at Floyd, but not before looking at the driver, who had his eyes on the road again. (more…)

Share Button

Sign up for our newsletter!

  • Writing Jobs

  • The Sun is hiring

    They’re searching for an Associate Publisher to direct business operations, finance, and personnel. They also have openings for a Manuscript Editor and an Editorial Assistant.

    All three positions are full-time and based in our Chapel Hill, North Carolina, office.

    Click the job titles below for details. (No e-mails, phone calls, faxes, or surprise visits, please.)

    Associate Publisher
    Manuscript Editor
    Editorial Assistant

    More information is available at:
    http://thesunmagazine.org/about/announcements/2014/59

    Share Button
  • The superstar assigns rights to his song catalog to his own NPG Music Publishing

  • prince

    Courtesy NPG Music Publishing

    Fresh from releasing “FALLINLOVE2NITE,” his latest single on Epic Records, Prince has announced that he is assigning the rights to his catalog to NPG Music Publishing, which means he will be doing it himself with the help of “some of the best talent in the industry,” according to the release.

    Prince’s last publishing deal was with Universal Music, before leaving the company several years ago. He had been inked to Kobalt Music for a label services deal but chose to release his latest single through L.A. Reid’s Epic label.

    The Grammy-winning multiplatinum icon’s songs, which he considers “fit 4 eternal publication,” includes such hits as “Kiss,” “When Doves Cry,” “Little Red Corvette,” “Let’s Go Crazy,” “U Got the Look,” “Purple Rain” and “Diamonds and Pearls,” most of which he played at a mammoth four-hour-plus show at the Palladium in Hollywood last month. NPG Music Publishing marks the first time Prince’s publishing has been independently controlled and administered in more than 20 years.

    (via Hollywood Reporter)

    Share Button
  • It’s EdEx time again

  • Principles of Written English, Part 3
    Principles of Written English
    UCBerkeleyX
    An introduction to academic writing for English Language Learners, focusing on essay development, grammatical correctness…
    Starts: April 1, 2014 - Learn moreView All edX Courses
    Share Button
  • FacedIn?

  • LinkedIn just became more like Facebook. Now everyone can write and post articles on LinkedIn, not just well-known business names. The new strategy follows LinkedIn’s disclosure that page views slipped for the second consecutive quarter.

    Now that LinkedIn ‘Influencers’ includes all willing and able writers, the company will use algorithms to distribute the most popular articles.

    Share Button
  • A NEW PLAY IS BORN

  • SelenaGraphic

    Selena, a beautiful young woman, lives with a wealthy family in Washington, D.C. 

    The family falls in love with this soulful, brilliant girl.
    Suddenly — without warning — Selena disappears. Why did she leave? Is she alive or dead?Selena — A play about sexuality, identity and choosing to follow your contract with creation.Written by Susan Rubin, Directed by Mark Bringelson
    FREE at The Road Theatre on Magnolia, Feb 17th @ 8pm, FREE
    Share Button
  • E-Reading Rises as Device Ownership Jumps

  • Three in ten adults read an e-book last year; half own a tablet or e-reader

     

    By and

    Most American adults read a print book in the past year, even as e-reading continues to grow

    The proportion of Americans who read e-books is growing, but few have completely replaced print books for electronic versions.

    As tablet ownership grows, more use them for e-books

    The percentage of adults who read an e-book in the past year has risen to 28%, up from 23% at the end of 2012. At the same time, about seven in ten Americans reported reading a book in print, up four percentage points after a slight dip in 2012, and 14% of adults listened to an audiobook.

    Though e-books are rising in popularity, print remains the foundation of Americans’ reading habits. Most people who read e-books also read print books, and just 4% of readers are “e-book only.” Audiobook listeners have the most diverse reading habits overall, while fewer print readers consume books in other formats.

    Overall, 76% of adults read a book in some format over the previous 12 months. The typical American adult read or listened to 5 books in the past year, and the average for all adults was 12 books.1 Neither the mean nor median number of books read has changed significantly over the past few years.

    More also own dedicated e-reading devices

    The January 2014 survey, conducted just after the 2013 holiday gift-giving season, produced evidence that e-book reading devices are spreading through the population. Some 42% of adults now own tablet computers, up from 34% in September. And the number of adults who own an e-book reading device like a Kindle or Nook reader jumped from 24% in September to 32% after the holidays.

    Overall, 50% of Americans now have a dedicated handheld device–either a tablet computer like an iPad, or an e-reader such as a Kindle or Nook–for reading e-content. That figure has grown from 43% of adults who had either of those devices in September.

    In addition, the survey found that 92% of adults have a cell phone (including the 55% of adults who have a smartphone), and 75% have a laptop or desktop computer – figures that have not changed in significantly from our pre-holiday surveys.

    People read e-books on other devices, too

    E-book readers who own tablets or e-readers are very likely to read e-books on those devices—but those who own computers or cellphones sometimes turn to those platforms, too. And as tablet and e-reader ownership levels have risen over the past few years, these devices have become more prominent in the e-reading landscape:

    About the survey

    These findings come from a survey conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International between January 2-5, 2014. The survey was conducted among a nationally representative sample of 1,005 adults ages 18 and older living in the continental United States. Interviews were conducted by landline (500) and cell phone (505, including 268 without a landline phone), and were done in English and Spanish. Statistical results are weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies. The margin of error for the full sample is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

    (Via Pew Research Internet Project)

    Share Button
  • Two out of three

  • parvis de saint gilles

     

    by N.C. Hogg

     

    This morning past, present and hoped-for future

    did I glimpse, in crowded tramcar joined.

    Two young, heavily-beluggaged, strangers,

    Placed together by scheming gods,

    contending with each other to recount

    experiences, on the road, before the prof, of their worlds.

    He, his words strutting with wit and charm,

    Gestures well-controlled and movements careful.

    She attentive with ready question, comment and small laugh

    Then in her turn she told him of her lot

    As circus girl, aspirant clown, an acrobat

    Her last show before cheering crowds

    At this  picture conjured, his eyes grew big

    and in wonder did he smile.

    He touched her shoulder in unmistaken sign

    she reached up to put her hand on his

    in proud conquest, their worlds now one.

    Then there was me, my now was as observer,

    I saw my now hyperbolically glorious past

    when in such conceit I did delight.

    I, too, could amuse

    and generate a warm place she’d want to be

    in an, all too often, brief, yet perfect, company.

    Such chance meetings, way stations on

    a changed for-ever-path towards the future.

    Then I saw a woman of your build

    yet able to give you some twenty of her years

    Small, compact, sinewy, tough

    Ten thousand past joys and tribulations in her face

    hesitantly step on at the Parvis

    aided by a man, her similar in stature,

    her complement companion.

    Frail, slender arm about her

    re-offering the protection of a lifetime

    She muttered something I doubt he could have heard,

    his face lit up, in understanding of the deepest kind:

    her recognition of his presence as she snuggled

    deeper into his warm round

    Looking back and foward  in comfortable glow

    A continuum of the marvels in life’s rich flow.

    Share Button
  • The Bubble Has Burst

  • bubble-flowerThis poem by Sarah Strange first appeared at Poet in the Woods

     
     

    The recession hits us long and hard
    Jobs lost, our spending power is halved
    Utilities that we need and use
    Skyrocket – we’ve all got the blues!
     
    Some social services close their doors
    And luck runs out for local stores
    We grow our veggies, make and mend
    And where possible – don’t spend.
     
    The hunt for jobs is fierce and long
    And to succeed you must be strong
    The level of skills is very high
    Just the cream of the crop gets by.
     
    So, many strike out on their own,
    With business cards and mobile ‘phone
    After wading through a paper trail
    Of tax forms, VAT,  junk mail.

    It isn’t like it used to be
    You can’t retire at fifty-three
    And enjoy two holidays a year;
    The good times simply are not there.

    Share Button
  • A Moral Atmosphere: Hypocrisy redefined for the age of warming

  • By Bill McKibben (HC ’82)

    This article first appeared in Orion Magazine.

     

    THE LIST OF REASONS for not acting on climate change is long and ever-shifting. First it was “there’s no problem”; then it was “the problem’s so large there’s no hope.” There’s “China burns stuff too,” and “it would hurt the economy,” and, of course, “it would hurt the economy.” The excuses are getting tired, though. Post Sandy (which hurt the economy to the tune of $100 billion) and the drought ($150 billion), 74 percent of Americans have decided they’re very concerned about climate change and want something to happen… (more)
    Share Button
  • Cambridge divest from fossil fuel

  • We call on the City of Cambridge Retirement System to immediately freeze any new investment in fossil fuelcompanies, and to divest from direct ownership and any commingled funds that include fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds within 5 years (more)

    Share Button

Around Harvard

  • Cambridge couple buys Porter Square Books

  • By Mary Moore, from the Boston Business Journal

    portersquare-600A Cambridge couple has purchased Porter Square Books, a nine-year old bookstore that has become a hub for book lovers as other indie shops go out of business.

    Dina Mardell and David Sandberg completed the purchase of the store on Aug. 18. Co-founder Jane Dawson announced in March that it was up for sale. Dawson is planning to retire in the next few months, although two other former co-owners will stay involved for longer. No other changes are expected to the 23-person staff.

    Sandberg, an attorney, recently left his job with Google, said Mardell in a phone interview. Mardell has a background in education with a focus on early literacy.

    The purchase was at least partially an emotional one…[more]

    Share Button

Brain Pickings

  • Let your LitVote be heard!

  • Vote for your favorite books by giving them some stars: just click on the book cover and scroll down to the “Write A Customer Review” button at the bottom of the book’s Amazon page and improve its LitVote ranking.

    Share Button

by Ben Mattlin (HC ’84)

  • TAKE YOUR SEATS...
    The realization came in the course of searching for a new cushion for my wheelchair.  I use a wheelchair every day, all day long, and have my whole life.  Born with spinal muscular atrophy, a degenerative neuromuscular delight, I've never stood or even tied my own shoes--but I know a thing or two about wheelchairs and have bought cushions before.  This time turned out to be a fiasco.   To be sure, I could easily have purc [...]

Yosem Companys (HKS, ’01) @Liberationtech

Liberationtech: Threat of single autonomous system to both ends of anonymous @TORProject connection greater than previously thought http://t.co/QxP3qJXWV3
13 months ago

by Teresa Hsiao (HC ’07)

  • 36 Hours in Tinder
    With a rich history dating back to September 2012, Tinder is a bucolic escape for pleasure-seekers and romantics alike. Some tourists call it a paradise; others, a place of last resort. Yet you can't truly judge Tinder until you've taken the time to explore its breathtaking scenery.

Sheila Connolly (GSA ’79) – Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen

  • Pasta with Smoked Salmon
    by Sheila Connolly I love smoked salmon. There’s nothing that tastes quite like it. Of course, I can’t affor [...]

Tweets From Bill McKibben (HC ’82)

billmckibben: After last year's drought, this year's floods plaguing Midwest farms: too wet to plant http://t.co/DokC5PkBQK
10 months ago