web analytics

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

Book Review

Publishing

  • Author Interview: William P. Wood

  •  by Mary Yuhas

    William P. Wood on turning books into movies, catching lightning in a bottle, and working with his father

    bill wood public radioWilliam P. Wood is the author of nine novels and one nonfiction book. His work in the District Attorney’s Office inspired him to pen an array of acclaimed legal thrillers.

    Many of his books have been translated into multiple languages and optioned for motion pictures, two of which were produced. Wood’s latest release is, Sudden Impact. He currently lives in Sacramento, California, where he is working on his next novel.

    LitVote: Do you write about the cases that most disturbed you?

    Sudden Impact
    Bill: I don’t. People, situations, strange facts mix together and the combination turns into a story. The characters, their hopes and fears and ambitions and escapades are what matter.

    LitVote: Your book, Rampage, was optioned and made into a film. Court of Honor was made into a TV movie, Broken Trust on TNT.  Can you explain the process once a producer expresses interest in adapting a book into a film?

    Bill: I was lucky. Both of those books became movies quickly. Other books were optioned, had screenplays written, and shopped around and nothing happened. Turning books into movies, especially today, is like catching lightning in a bottle. The basic straightline process, which rarely happens, is that the book is optioned, a screenwriter and or talent, like actors, like the idea, and folks come up with the money to film. But it is an eccentric process.

    LitVote: Were you happy with the adaptations?

    Bill: Very much so. Rampage had one of the world’s most talented and visionary directors, William Friedkin turn it into a striking film. He was incredibly gracious and generous throughout the shooting, editing and later events associated with Rampage. The cast was superb too, starting with Michael Biehn. Likewise, Broken Trust was a terrific film. Joan Didion and her husband John Gregory Dunne are not only superb writers but extraordinary screenwriters, which is very different process. Tom Selleck turned in a profound, layered performance in the lead with Marsha Mason and Elizabeth McGovern giving the whole enterprise depth, suspense, and drama.

    LiteVote: How long does it take you to write a book?

    Bill: Pick any time. I’ve written novels in forty-five days and my one nonfiction book, The Bone Garden about female serial killer Dorothea Puente took nearly four years. On average a novel, from first to last draft, takes about eight months.

    LitVote: You also were a co-writer for several episodes of the CBS-TV series “Kaz” starring Ron Liebman (a former car thief-turned-criminal attorney Martin “Kaz” Kazinsky.) What was that like?

    Bill: Wonderful. Frustrating. Fun. One episode starred the great late character actor Eugene Roche as a judge going crazy during a trial. He was astonishing. But as the series went on, there were more people trying to shoehorn ideas into scripts and things got very cumbersome. My late father, Preston Wood, and I wrote three episodes together, based on my experiences as a deputy DA like my novels, and working him was one of the proudest and most satisfying experiences of my life. He wrote for almost every major TV show, “Adam-12”, “Addams Family”, “Emergency!”, “Bonanza” for example.

    LitVote: What is the single most important thing an author can do to improve his or her writing?

    Bill: Read a lot. First last and always. Rewrite. Okay, that’s two things.

    LitVote: Any tips for first-time writers?

    Bill: Write because you enjoy it. Write because you have something to say. Don’t worry about anything else.

    LiteVote: What’s next for you?

    Bill: A movie version of my latest novel, Sudden Impact, I hope. And finishing a new novel.

                                                                             ***

    _______________

    Author Mary Yuhas, is the author of the upcoming memoir, QUIT AND BE QUIET, about growing up with a severely mentally ill mother, featured tree times on Scribd.

    Share Button
  • Environment, Ethics, and ‘Endgame?’ — How do we approach Cli-fi writing?

  • by Charles Degelman

    As writers hell-bent on creating a new and vital fiction genre, cli-fi (climate fiction), we’re probably aware how research via scientific thinking and and information can support and enrich our fictional world-building. But how what about the scope, scale, approach and desired outcomes of cli-fi creation? 

    Sea level, Nat'l Geo

    Do we reflect our faith in the ingenuity and good intentions of homo sapiens? Do we point the finger at ourselves as Walt Kelly (Pogo) did on the first Earth Day (1970) —”We have met the enemy,” he wrote, “and they are us”? Or do we accept the inevitable and write to the prospects and percentages of planetary collapse?

    What is eco-etiquette and how does it apply to or optimism, or pessimism, objectivity, ethical responsibilities and creativity as cli-fi writers? — all questions worth considering as fiction writers and all questions raised by scientists and scholars of our planet’s trajectory past, present, and future.

    Many of us have discussed public response to dystopian, disaster-oriented cli-fi in terms of its potential to desensitize, guilt-trip, or fulfill self-destructive fantasies. Okay. But what are non-fiction climatologists and environmental prospectors thinking? And can they give us any helpful clues as to how to approach our work as novelists?

    The essay, “Endgame?” just appeared in “The Nation,” the United States’ oldest running (and most consistently progressive) periodical. “Endgame?”, written by an urban affairs activist named Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow, is actually a survey of current non-fiction writing and thinking on climate change and the ongoing speculation about potential climate disaster.

    “Endgame?” asks many of the questions we do about the impact of our writing, various stances that enviro thinkers are taking, and introduces us to six books written across the spectrum of current thinking about… yes, the endgame — what leads up to it, what happens after. Rather than delve into the specifics of the six books, I urge you to read this informative and relevant multi-review of the way people are thinking about and writing on global warming.

    ___________

    Charles Degelman is the award-winning author of A Bowl Full of Nails

     

    Share Button
  • Excerpt of the Novel: Dark Lady of Hollywood

  •  
     

    by Diane Haithman

    pic of Diane

     
     
     

    Chapter 1

     

    Since nor the exterior nor th’ inward man

    Resembles that it was.

    — King Claudius, Hamlet

     
     

    Dark Lady of Hollywood
     

    “See, here’s the thing, Kenny . . .”

    I’d forgotten how my immediate supervisor, Danny Gordon, never really shook hands. He’d just put his in yours and leave it there, like a small, limp package waiting for UPS. We’d been holding hands like this ever since he walked into my office to welcome me back. Sweet.

    “The thing?”

    “The . . . thing.” Dan nodded then fell silent. I decided it was up to me to end the non-handshake and gentlly disengaged myself from it. Dan still said nothing. The pause was clammier than his hand. “Say whatever the fuck it is you have to say, Dan,” I suggested pleasantly.

    Danny winced; he tended to take profanity very personally. His small brown eyes had been fixed on the floor. Now, as he looked up, they darted every which way behind the narrow glasses — furtive weasel eyes trying to escape from his desperately hip green rectangular frames, from his head, from my office. From me. (more…)

    Share Button
  • Virtual Writers Workshop, Sunday December 7th

  • Drum Circle 3

    Virtual Writers Workshop at the Etopia Island drum circle

    Join us live online for another book launch and group readings at Etopia Island in Second Life.

    The reading and book talk at 12 p.m. Eastern time, 9 a.m. Pacific time. Get writing for our monthly Sunday meeting of the Virtual Writers Workshop, bringing published authors together with writers for synergy and exchange.

    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 attend. (more…)

    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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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.” (more…)

    Share Button
  • The Business of Mass Incarceration

  • Chris Hedges holds a Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School. His recent book is Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt. He is the author of the bestsellers American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America, and Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle and was a National Book Critics Circle finalist for his book War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning.

     By Chris Hedges

    This article first appeared in TruthDig

    Debbie Bourne, 45, was at her apartment in the Liberty Village housing projects in Plainfield, N.J., on the afternoon of April 30 when police banged on the door and pushed their way inside.

    CHedges

    The officers ordered her, her daughter, 14, and her son, 22, who suffers from autism, to sit down and not move and then began ransacking the home. Bourne’s husband, from whom she was estranged and who was in the process of moving out, was the target of the police, who suspected him of dealing cocaine. As it turned out, the raid would cast a deep shadow over the lives of three innocents—Bourne and her children.

    * * *
    The murder of a teenage boy by an armed vigilante, George Zimmerman, is only one crime set within a legal and penal system that has criminalized poverty. Poor people, especially those of color, are worth nothing to corporations and private contractors if they are on the street. In jails and prisons, however, they each can generate corporate revenues of $30,000 to $40,000 a year. This use of the bodies of the poor to make money for corporations fuels the system of neoslavery that defines our prison system…[more]

    Share Button
  • Spotlight on the Alternative Justice System

  • The Terror Courts: Rough Justice at Guantanamo Bay
    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.

    LitVote: Can you tell me how many are in there for no reason at all?

    Jess: Sure. Well, right now there are about 166 men still held at Guantanamo Bay. Congress has imposed a lot of restrictions preventing the president from transferring people out of Guantanamo, and the United States is having difficulty finding places to send them since it won’t accept them on its own soil, so it has to try to negotiate or persuade or pay other countries to take them. Most of the prisoners cleared for release are from Yemen, and U.S. authorities believe the environment in Yemen is too unstable and risky for these men. Other detainees, such as the Uighur Muslims from China, are at risk of persecution if repatriated to their home countries. And the US Congress has imposed restrictions on the president’s ability to transfer detainees out of Guantanamo.

    LitVote: How come they’re all men? US prisons are 92 percent men and 8 percent women.

    Jess: … there don’t seem to be a lot of women who were involved in very high levels or involved in organizing terrorist acts or taking up arms who were fingered in this way.

    LitVote: What about the people in the orange suits with the bags over their heads?

    Jess: I did see in January of 2002 a military transport plane that was offloaded with detainees coming off, and they had those famous orange jumpsuits, and they were handcuffed and they had on blackout goggles and earmuffs and facemasks and gloves, basically to deprive them of most of their senses. I did not see any abuse, and my visits there have been many, but my visits at Guantanamo have all been under military escort, so I can’t see anything that they don’t choose to let me see when I’m there.

    LitVote: When do you expect it to be shut down entirely?

    Jess: Well, I have no information on that. The president said he was going to do it when he ran for office the first time in 2008. They recently reassigned the State Department official whose job was finding new homes for the detainees. I suppose the questions is whether President Obama wants to leave off in four years having accomplished that campaign promise from 2008 or having it be one of the things that is a mark on his report card as incomplete. (more…)

    Share Button

Recent Articles:

Exclusive Interview with James Patterson

by Mary Yuhas

 

James Patterson  credit David Burnett

James Patterson; photo by David Burnett

James Patterson holds the New York Times record for the most bestselling novels by a single author, which is also a Guinness record.

 

In 2010, the New York Times Magazine featured him on its cover and hailed him as having “transformed book publishing.” For the past decade, Patterson has been devoting more and more of his time to championing books and reading. His website, ReadKiddoRead.com is designed to help parents, teachers and librarians ignite the next generations excitement about reading. Patterson’s Book Bucks programs provide gift certificates to be used at independent local book stores. He has also donated 650,000 books to soldiers at home and overseas. He has donated scholarships in teacher education at twenty-two schools including Vanderbilt University, the University of Wisconsin and Manhattan College. Mr. Patterson’s awards for adult and children’s literature include the Edgar Award, the International Thriller of the Year Award and the Children’s Choice Award for Author of the Year. Mr. Patterson received a bachelor’s degree from Manhattan College and a master’s degree from Vanderbilt University. He lives in Palm Beach with his wife, Sue, and his son, Jack.

 

LitVote: Your first novel “The Thomas Berryman Number” was published in 1976. It won an Edgar. What do you think of the book now when you revisit it? (The Edgar Allen Poe Awards or Edgars are presented every year by the Mystery Writers of America to honor the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction, television, film and theater published or produced the previous year.)

James: I love the picture on the back of the book. I look so young, probably because I was so young. I think Berryman is still is the best written novel I’ve done. I think the story is a bit convoluted, which of course endears it to my fellow mystery writers. I don’t think the story is as strong as the ones I’ve done since then. Winning the award was a huge surprise. I remember when I won the Edgar at the Commodore Hotel I said, “I guess I’m a writer now.” I knew I could do this thing (writing) at a certain level.

LitVote: You’ve sold ever 300 million books worldwide. Is there a single or multiple discipline that you apply to each book that you feel has led to your huge success as an author?

House of Robots
James: I like to pretend I’m sitting across from somebody, just an audience of one, and I don’t want them to get up until the story is finished.

I try to use the notion of highest common denominator for all my novels. I want a mainstream audience, but I want to create something that’s at the top of the food chain… not at the bottom or the middle.

LitVote: What do your readers tell you they like best about your books?

James: I think two things that come up again and again are characters they want to follow and know more about, and pace. As the Brits say about my books, the pages practically turn themselves.

LitVote: Not only do you write thrillers for adults, you’ve written 35 books for children and teens. How do you come up with so many ideas?

James: For some reason, I don’t find coming up with ideas very difficult. It seems to be my strong suit. I have a folder in my office which is about nine inches thick full of new ideas. I’m writing another outline just this week. I don’t know where all this inspiration comes from. When I was a kid, we lived in the woods, and I wandered endlessly telling myself stories.

Patterson Hope To DieLitVote: You are well known for the lengthy outlines (60 – 80 pages) that you write before you begin a book. Are you able to describe what these outlines are like?

James: Basically the outline is the book. If you read one of my outlines, you’ll get the whole story. I try to make every chapter a scene.

I try to capture one nugget and try to build a scene around it.

LitVote: What is the biggest mistake most first time authors make?

James: I would say the mistake is not outlining, or not spending enough time on the outline. In most cases writers would save themselves a lot of heartache, and an unbelievable amount of time, if they would simply outline first. I think that is the biggie in terms of writer mistakes.

LitVote: Why do you write with other authors?

James: I think people are interested in this because for whatever reason they can’t fathom that somebody works differently than they do, or differently from the way they think everyone else should write. Collaboration can be easily understood – just think about Gilbert and Sullivan, or Lennon and McCartney, or Woodward & Bernstein. There are an inordinate number of successful collaborations. I was in Hollywood once and one of my books was being turned into a TV series.

There were ten writers collaborating. So what I do isn’t really all that unusual. Frequently in movies and TV, you have teams collaborating.

In advertising, it’s writer and art director, or writer and producer. The big lesson of the digital age is the power of collaboration.

LitVote: How do you choose your coauthors?

James: Coauthors are mostly people I have known for a period of time. I know they are good writers and I can work well with them. It’s almost always people I already know.

LitVote: What marketing strategies do you recommend authors use to sell their books?

James: If a lot of people weren’t interested in the last James Patterson book, the marketing is not going to fool them when a new book comes out. All marketing can do is communicate, there’s a new book and what kind of book it is. A lot of the apocryphal stuff written about my use of marketing is pure gibberish. I set the “Women’s Murder Club” in San Francisco because I wanted to write about San Francisco, not because I thought it would be a terrific marketing move.

LitVote: Is there anything you’ve learned not to do over your years as an author?

James: Unfortunately I keep forgetting the lessons I’ve learned and have to relearn them. I think the thing I’m most guilty of is losing focus while I’m writing a new book or outline. I always want to be conscious that somebody is out there – a potential reader – and I have to hold their interest for several hours.

It would be useful for some writers to craft a novel the way they would a short story. My original models for my fiction are very tight novels like “Mrs. Bridge,” “ Mr. Bridge,” “Steps,” and “The Painted Bird.”

Patterson desk

James’ Desk

LitVote: Do you immediately know if a book has the “right stuff” to make it and if so, what is the “right stuff?”

James: The three rules of real estate are location, location, location.

My rule for writing commercial fiction is story, story, story. The key to writing suspense is to raise questions that the reader absolutely, positively must have answered.

LitVote: Your latest venture is film. Murder of a Small Town, is a documentary about the downward spiral of minorities due to the loss of jobs in Pahokee and Belle Glades, Fla. and in your hometown of Newburgh, N.Y. How was this experience and do you plan to produce more films? 

James: I wrote the documentary because I visited Pahokee and Belle Glades, Fla. and Newburgh, N.Y. having given books out there to school kids. I found the kids to be bright and interesting – but I worried that they might become victims to the violence in these small towns.

Films that are hopefully upcoming are: “Zoo” with CBS which will be on this summer; “Middle School The Worst Years of My Life” with CBS as a TV show; and we’re developing “I Funny” with Nickelodeon.

_____________________

Author Mary Yuhas, is the author of the upcoming memoir, QUIT AND BE QUIET, about growing up with a severely mentally ill mother,  featured three times on Scribd.

Share Button

Hashtags every writers needs to know

How do you find readers on Twitter? People who read Twitter like a newspaper find the threads they’re interested in by searching on topics preceded by hashtags. That’s why writers need to ‘file’ their tweets by adding hashtags to their messages. Otherwise, writers risk tweeting into the abyss.

Here are hundreds of hashtags that will fly your tweets beyond your followers to everyone reading about your topic on Twitter:

Authors

#1K1H (write one thousand words in one hour)

#AmWriting

#AmEditing

#AmRevising

#Author

#Authors

#AuthorLife (more…)

Share Button

Nutrition inspiration for kids over the holidays

Maggie Eats Healthier
A great book to read post-Thanksgiving feasting, Maggie Eats Healthier by Paul M. Kramer and illustrated by Mari Kuwayama inspires healthy eating and lifelong well being.

Maggie struggles with her body image and desire to play baseball. The kids laugh at her at first for being overweight, but her determination prevails. With the help of a doctor, she and her mother learn better eating habits and wonderful things start to happen for Maggie. She changes her life by altering her eating habits and exercising regularly. As a result she became more physically fit and is able to achieve her goal of being the best she can be. She also realizes that nutritious foods can actually be quite tasty. Through time, regular exercise and better eating habits, Maggie’s confidence improves and she is healthier and happier. (more…)

Share Button

On Editing: Part One — Before the Fact

nyr

© New Yorker

By Charles Degelman

You probably don’t think about editors when you first sit down to write. You’re driven by the strength of an idea, you’re in love with words and eager to see them pour from your keyboard or pencil tip. You may be immobilized, intimidated by a blank page or screen. Either way, you begin to write your story or make your claim and you may realize that you already have an editor — perhaps more than one — perching on your shoulder.

The more you write, the better you’ll get to know these editors. They’ll bark at you, coo at the grace of your prose, haunt you with questions, call you an idiot or a genius. Whoever they are, regardless of your doubts and dreams, you will want to shape them, train them to work for you because — before you submit your work to an editor — you will want to edit yourself. (more…)

Share Button

Susan Cox on her cash advance and publishing contract after winning writing competition

By Mary Yuhas

Sue CoxSusan Cox is a former South Florida journalist who also lived and worked in San Francisco for more than twenty years. During most of that time, she was a fundraiser for nonprofit organizations, including the Bar Association of San Francisco and the University of San Francisco School of Law. 

She has a master’s degree in writing (MAW) from the University of San Francisco and has taught writing workshops. Cox maintains that as a teacher, she learned as much (or more) from her students than they learned from her. (more…)

Share Button

#InArk Book Launch

by Lisa Devaney

I am so grateful to everyone who made it out in the rain on Saturday, 8th November 2014 to celebrate with me for my book launch of my In Ark: A Promise of Survival. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Despite the challenging weather – hey, it was kind of a dystopian mood-setting rain – more than 30 people joined me at Victoria Park Books shop in East London’s Hackney for the event. Guests were treated to drinks and futuristic nibbles & cake. DJ Tunesmith (aka Joan Smith) played a non-stop set of enjoyable house music songs and I got brave and took to the stairs to entertain my guests with some SLAM-poetry.

Lisa Devaney dressed in the protective clothing that Mya wears in the year 2044 and did SLAM poetry, dressed as her book’s main character Mya would dress in the year 2044 (more…)

Share Button

New York Street Scenes

by Michele Myers,

Author of Fugue for the Right Hand

 

I live on Riverside Drive near Columbia University, right across Riverside Park and the Hudson River. It is quiet here, the silence broken in the afternoon by the voices of children playing in the park. Only a block East, Broadway teams with Columbia students, faculty, and staff from all over the world, and you can hear a multitude of languages spoken on the wide sidewalks and the restaurants near campus. Other “regulars,” who more or less make Broadway their home, are the older men and women who sit on the church steps, or on the sidewalk in front of a grocery story, or simply stand and hold their hand out.

There is the old man who stands at the corner of 116th and Broadway, or in front of Morton Williams, the local grocery store. He is there every day, and he sings. Once when I passed him as he was singing, he pointed at his throat and said: “Do you think this is easy?” and he smiled. He has few teeth, all of them dark brown. He is thin and stoops, and his clothes are an assortment of discolored grayish, (more…)

Share Button

On the verge of CLOSE

 

Erika Raskin’s launch will be at ‘Over the Moon’ book store Saturday, November 8, 2014

On the verge of her book launch, author Erika Raskin writes:

So Keith came home from the hospital put down his computer bag in the kitchen where I was cooking and announced that we should start practicing the reading for my book party.

What?” (Generally I have to chase him around the house to listen to my essays.) My heart began pounding, the potato masher stopped mid-mash.

“If it were me,” he said in that calm medical-educator voice that generally inspires a transient surge of violence. “I would start practicing.”

“The party isn’t for five days!” I sputtered.

The established division of worry in our relationship is that I do and he doesn’t. What was going on? Seriously, I almost passed out. (more…)

Share Button

Thaw reveals Antarctic explorer’s century-old notebook

via AFP

A notebook from Robert Scott's ill-fated Antarctic expedition which was found after a century trapped in the ice of the frozen continent, October 23, 2014

A photographic notebook from Robert Scott’s ill-fated Antarctic expedition has been found after a century trapped in the ice of the frozen continent, New Zealand’s Antarctic Heritage Trust said.

It belonged to scientist George Murray Levick and was discovered outside Scott’s 1911 Terra Nova base during last year’s summer ice melt.

Writing in the notebook remains legible but the binding has been dissolved by years of ice and water damage, the trust’s executive director Nigel Watson said.

“It’s an exciting find. The notebook is a missing part of the official expedition record,” he said.

“After spending seven years conserving Scott’s last expedition building and collection, we are delighted to still be finding new artefacts.”

He said the pages of the notebook were taken to New Zealand and individually preserved, then given new binding and returned to Antarctica, where the trust is working to preserve five sites used by explorers Scott, Ernest Shackleton and Edmund Hillary.

Scott’s expedition split into two groups after reaching the Antarctic, with the leader’s contingent reaching the South Pole on January 17, 1912, only to find Norwegian Roald Amundsen had beaten them there a month earlier.

Scott and his companions later died of exposure and starvation.

Levick was in the other group, which travelled along the coast to make scientific observations but became stranded from the base camp when pack ice prevented their ship from picking them up.

The six men all survived the Antarctic winter by digging a cave in the ice and eating local wildlife, including penguins and seals.

Other discoveries made by the trust include bottles of whisky taken on Shackleton’s 1908 expedition and lost negatives from his 1914-17 foray to the Ross Sea.

The contents of Levick’s notebook are fairly mundane, comprising the dates, subjects and exposure details of photographs he had taken.

Much more interesting was a scientific paper he wrote titled “Sexual Habits of the Adelie Penguin”, which was lost until researchers at London’s Natural History Museum rediscovered it in 2012.

In it he records observations of the penguins’ “depraved” habits, including homosexual behaviour and males trying to mate with the bodies of dead females.

Levick was so horrified at the penguins’ antics that he wrote down some of his observations in Greek so the average reader could not understand them and his paper was never publicly released.

(more…)

Share Button

Eco-fiction.com Announces Climate Change Story Winner

Artists and authors are among those working to send a message about climate change. Mary Woodbury, owner of Moon Willow Press–which promotes climate change literature and art at Eco-fiction.com–announces the results of a climate change short story contest, with Robert Sassor winning with his story “First Light”. The contest began in June and ended August 30, 2014.

Eco-fiction.com has cataloged climate change novels for over a year, creating a database of more than 220 novels (with more on the horizon) with eco-, science-, and speculative fiction that have environmental themes. It has also newly created an artists and authors discussion group at Google+. The climate change story event was its first contest, and the submissions were overwhelming. The rules were pretty simple: craft a short story about climate change. There were also language and word count guidelines. Sending a nature photo in established bonus points. (more…)

Share Button

Malorie Blackman faces racist abuse after call to diversify children’s books

 

Malorie Blackman

Children’s laureate vows she will not be silenced by ‘hatred, threats and vitriol’ after appealing for more representative range of fictional characters

 

By  This story first appeared in The Guardian

Children’s laureate Malorie Blackman has vowed that “hell will freeze over before I let racists and haters silence me” after facing an outpouring of racist abuse following her call for more diversity in children’s books.

The attacks began after the award-winning author spoke to Sky News about diversity in children’s literature, saying that although “you want to escape into fiction … and read about other people, other cultures, other lives, other planets”, there is “a very significant message that goes out when you cannot see yourself at all in the books you are reading”. (more…)

Share Button

Floodlanders, by Wayne Marinovich

Genre: Action Adventure, Thrillers, Cli-fi, Dystopian

Format: ebook

In 2025, teen journeys with his father into the dangerous Central London Floodzone for the first time to sell their farm products at a market. The post climate change neighborhood is home to a hardened breed of humans, known as Floodlanders. Brutal tragedy strikes, and changes their lives forever.

This short story with chapters is a tiny gem. Marinovich’s storytelling is captivating, from the moment a Warlord guard tries to bribe the father and son on their way to market, saying,

The soldier looked down at the passbook again, then said, ‘anything in the back that I can take home to my family?’

Wayne Marinovich is an independent author and wildlife photographer who grew up on a farm in South Africa, where he spent most of his time sitting in trees and climbing up on the barn roof, fighting imaginary villains. He is the author of the Kyle Gibbs series.

 

Share Button

In ‘After Water’ Project, 12 Writers Imagine Life in Climate Change-Altered Chicago

From Inside Climate News

Ecoterrorists, saboteurs, orphans, activists muck through their separate realities. ‘This project is terrifying—the idea of what the world would become.’

By Hannah Robbins

Aug 19, 2014

Fiction author Nnedi Okorafor gives a talk in Seattle. She’s one of 12 writers who participated in the radio project called “After Water” that blends climate science and fiction.

fictionwriterclimate

Credit: Luke McGuff, flickr

 

Four emaciated boys share a canteen of fresh water. They pass the stolen treasure around as they huddle on a raft made of broken furniture, drifting on toxic flood waters. The future has come to Chicago—or at least one future imagined by Abby Geni, a fiction writer in Illinois. (more…)

Share Button

Episode 2: New Climate Change Series ‘Years of Living Dangerously’

“I knew that if people discussed the movie instead of what the movie was about, we’d have failed. I wanted all the script’s banality to work for me, to entice the audience past our subject matter until they were drowning in it,” says director Nicholas Meyer (The Day After).

The new Showtime seriesYears of Living Dangerously, is anything but banal, to judge by the first episode. It uses a brilliant technique of going around the world to explore carbon-releasing activities and extreme weather, through the eyes of celebrities who act as surrogates for the audience. In the initial episode, for example, Harrison Ford discovers mass deforestation in Indonesia, Don Cheadle talks to victims of persistent drought in Texas, and Tom Friedman ventures into Syria and finds that the civil war there was caused, along with other factors, by an absence of rain, then an absence of government response.

These correspondents come off not as experts but as investigators. They ask some of the questions we care about, and listen as we would. Except they are, for instance, Matt Damon (of the Bourne series) , Lesley Stahl (of 60 Minutes), and Ian Somerhalder (of Vampire Diaries), plus many others. They model the process not of already knowing, but of being open to learn.

(via Huffington Post)

Share Button

Oil & Honey, by ‘Unlikely’ Activist Bill McGibben

Harvard alum bestselling author/environmentalist/professor Bill McKibben recounts the personal and global story of the fight to build and preserve a sustainable planet

Bill McKibben is not a person you’d expect to find handcuffed and behind bars, but that’s where he found himself in the summer of 2011 after leading the largest civil disobedience in thirty years, protesting the Keystone XL pipeline in front of the White House.

With the Arctic melting, the Midwest in drought, and Irene scouring the Atlantic, McKibben recognized that action was needed if solutions were to be found. Some of those would come at the local level, where McKibben joins forces with a Vermont beekeeper raising his hives as part of the growing trend toward local food. Other solutions would come from a much larger fight against the fossil-fuel industry as a whole.

Oil and Honey is McKibben’s account of these two necessary and mutually reinforcing sides of the global climate fight—from the center of the maelstrom and from the growing hive of small-scale local answers. With empathy and passion he makes the case for a renewed commitment on both levels, telling the story of raising one year’s honey crop and building a social movement that’s still cresting.

march

Demonstrate on Saturday, September 20th, 2014

Read an excerpt of Oil and Honey

Demonstrate on Saturday, September 20th

(via BillMcKibben.com)

Share Button

Study Finds Working from Home is Better for Everyone

A timely publication gives new insight to the intersection of business and environmentalism, pointing human beings and business in a win-win direction.

Nicholas Bloom, Associate Professor of Economics at Stanford, is uncovering profound resources as he runs US and international surveys on work-life balance to determine the benefits of working from home. So far his findings are stunning: “assuming nobody moved house, working from home is clearly going to reduce commuting and hence pollution.” Working from home also results in a significant improvements in performance.

*     *     *

To Raise Productivity, Let More Employees Work from Home

from the Harvard Business Review

The study: Nicholas Bloom and graduate student James Liang, who is also a cofounder of the Chinese travel website Ctrip, gave the staff at Ctrip’s call center the opportunity to volunteer to work from home for nine months. Half the volunteers were allowed to telecommute; the rest remained in the office as a control group. Survey responses and performance data collected at the conclusion of the study revealed that, in comparison with the employees who came into the office, the at-home workers were not only happier and less likely to quit but also more productive.

A Significant Improvement in Performance

After a group of Ctrip service reps were sent home to do their work, they consistently completed more calls than their counterparts who remained in the call center. (more…)

Share Button

The Case for Fossil-Fuel Divestment, by Bill McKibben (HC ’82)

On the road with the new generation of college activists fighting for the environment

From Rolling Stone

It’s obvious how this should end. You’ve got the richest industry on earth, fossil fuel, up against some college kids, some professors, a few environmentalists, a few brave scientists.

And it’s worse than that. The college students want their universities to divest from fossil fuel – to sell off their stock in Exxon and Shell and the rest in an effort to combat global warming. But those universities, and their boards, have deep ties to the one percent: combined, their endowments are worth $400 billion, and at Harvard, say, the five folks who run the portfolio make as much money as the entire faculty combined.

[more]

Share Button

Sign up for our newsletter!

email address

Send

Yang Huang’s blog

Erika Raskin

  • Go Dog, Go!
    I had my book signing event at Barnes and Noble this we […]
  • Literary Launch Party: LIVING TREASURES

  • 10702175_1502348103373334_7902391687473468868_n (1)

    December 6, 2014 – Yang Huang launched her novel Living Treasures, a passionate quest for romance and justice, at Green Apple Books in San Francisco, CA, and will be reading at the San Francisco Public Library today. Having lived under the one-child policy in China, she imparts profound and moving wisdom.

    To make a real change, even a small one, you cannot expect it to be passed down from the government, but rather, it needs to start with you and your actions.

     

    An excerpt of Yang Huang’s talk:

    I have a day job, working as a computer engineer at UC Berkeley. As a writer I have a rather optimistic worldview. I like to tackle big social problems in my fiction, put my characters under the test, let them suffer, and in their darkest and most despairing hours, let them use their ingenuity (much like an engineer), and find some sort of relief or solution, not a cure-all, but a way out, so that they can move forward to rebuild their lives.

    Before I talk about my book, I want to tell you the inspirations for my story.

    First, it was the panda. [Hold up the panda picture.] Who could resist a face like this? But do you know its secrets? Panda is bear, with the digestive system of a carnivore, thus derives little energy and protein from consuming bamboo, which is 99% of its diet. Pandas in the wild occasionally eat birds, mice, or fish if they can catch them.

    To make up for the inefficient digestion, a panda needs to consume 20 to 40 pounds of bamboo every day. This affects its behavior. A panda must spend 10 to 16 hours a day foraging and eating. The rest of its time is spent mostly sleeping and resting.
    Bamboo species flower periodically, every 30 – 120 years or so. All plants in a particular species mass flower worldwide over a several-year period. Flowering produces seeds, and bamboos die after flowering. The seeds will give rise to a new generation of bamboos, but it can take years to replenish the food supply for pandas.

    When I was in middle school, we donated money to rescue the pandas from starvation, as bamboos mass flowered over large areas of the Min Mountains. It was one of the few fund raising events I ever had in China. The plight of cuddly pandas touched many young hearts. We wrote letters, essays, drew pictures, and told stories about these national treasures.

    My book begins with a mother panda eating a chicken, so that she could survive the winter and nurse her cub.

    Here we see the resilience of panda, and the girl who witnesses it.

    My second inspiration is the student movement of 1989.

    My heroine, Miss Gu Bao, her name sounding like “national treasure” in Chinese, grows up in the 80s.

    It was a hopeful time, a liberal time. After the dark ages of brutal prosecution and censorship in the Cultural Revolution, many western thoughts were introduced and flourished in China. For the young people, it was sexy to be in a debate salon and wrangle over ideological issues. Before long, people began to demand human rights, freedom, and democracy.

    [Holds up Qin’s picture]. This is Qin, my better half, during the heyday of the 1989 student movement. I didn’t have a picture, because people were still afraid of retaliation. Students began their protests at night, wearing facial masks to avoid being recognized or photographed. This might be mid-May, when the movement had gained so much support throughout China. It was “safe” to be seen as a “patriotic youth” rather than condemned as “a traitor conspiring to overthrow the government.”

    Soon the situation escalated. The Tiananmen Square massacre came as a complete shock. To this day, we don’t know how many were killed on the dawn of June 4th. The official story was that no one died in the square. The propaganda machine in China wiped out every evidence of the demonstrations and subsequent crackdown.

    My poor parents were grateful that I wasn’t in the Square that night. They told me to never speak of it. What good does it do, for the dead and living? My classmate, a hunger striker, dropped out of the university afterwards. I never heard from him again. Dr. Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, is still imprisoned for speaking up about the Tiananmen Square massacre.

    The student movement in 1989 was a defining moment of my generation. We experienced the hope, joy, and heartbreak of losing a historical opportunity. I reflected on the tragedy for more than twenty years. I would write a story about the students’ fight but with a more meaningful arc. There were many things leading up to the massacre and following after that, but that night, inevitably the focus of my story is just a starting point, a central metaphor for Bao’s tragedy. I didn’t want it to end on Tiananmen Square. It needed to be in rural China, where a lot of the injustice happened.

    My third inspiration is the one-child policy.

    May I see a show of hands? It doesn’t matter where you were born. [pause] Would those of you not firstborns please raise your hands? [Yang counts] That’s about a half of the people in this room. You wouldn’t have been born in China after 1976, if your parents hadn’t fought hard to save your lives.

    Here is a little bit of history. In the 1950s, Chairman Mao, with a typical peasant mentality, banned family planning and encouraged women to have as many children as possible. The population grew from 540 million in 1949 to 969 million in 1979, nearly 80% of population increase within three decades. In the seventies the government tried to solve the population crisis by enforcing strict controls to slow down the birth rate. Aside from some minority groups, every couple could only have one child.

    The problem is: local governments all had their own rules and regulations to enforce the policy. Some people lost their jobs after having a second child. Others were fined. Like many policies in China, there was abuse of power and corruption was rampant. In some villages, one-child policy worker team hired thugs to threaten and beat up people, force collect the fines, and even kidnap the women and their relatives. Some women had their full-term babies aborted. (If the drugs couldn’t kill, a nurse injected medicine on the baby’s temple when the mother was pushing.) Some women died from the brutal procedures, while others were forced into sterilization.

    My fourth inspiration is a blind lawyer, Mr. Chen Guangchen.

    While revising Living Treasures, I learned about Mr. Chen, a civil rights activist who worked on human rights issues in rural China. Blind from an early age and self-taught in the law, Chen is a “barefoot lawyer” who advocates for women’s rights, land rights, and the welfare of the poor. That was the career path that I planned for Bao, that she would mature into a grassroots activist.

    To make a real change, even a small one, you cannot expect it to be passed down from the government, but rather, it needs to start with you and your actions. The victory isn’t achieved by the talks on Tiananmen Square but in every action you do, every person you help, and every sacrifice you make for the common good.

    The students in 1989 appealed to the ruling class to change the corrupt system. It ended in the massacre. That’s no reason to give up. What if we don’t fight, but live our lives to the fullest?

    Every person thinks s/he is free, despite what the government tells them, and live their lives like free people, take charge of their social responsibilities, and reach out to the less fortunate.

    I know Bao could do this, because Mr. Chen did it with some success. In 2005, Chen organized a landmark class action lawsuit against authorities in Shandong province, for the excessive enforcement of the one-child policy. What an amazing achievement for a courageous blind lawyer!

    In Living Treasures, village woman Mrs. Orchid already has a daughter. The one-child policy worker team forced her to have two abortions. When she gets pregnant again, she hides in a cave. There she meets Bao, who ended her pregnancy in order to continue her career as a law student. Bao is not impressed with Orchid at first, but she learns to admire Orchid’s strength and resolve to have her child. She ends up risking her own life to protect Orchid.

    The ensuing violence is a metaphor for the Tiananmen Square massacre. But Bao is more fortunate than the students on the Square. With the help of her soldier boyfriend, she is able to rise from her tragedy and becomes a human rights activist. Her journey will not be easy, and she will suffer a great deal for her choice, but she has taken an important first step, not only for herself, but for 1.35 billion Chinese people who don’t have the political power.

    You may ask why I wrote the story of a Chinese woman in English. There were several reasons. When I was a teenager, I was enthralled by the French writers, novels by Victor Hugo, Balzac, and Alexandre Dumas. Those stories from the faraway land seemed more realistic, vivid, and inspirational than the Chinese novels about the suffering in the Cultural Revolution. When I managed (believe me, it was hard) to put down the book and walked to the school, I no longer saw the tractors and oxcarts, motorcycles and bicycles in bright daylight but felt as if I were running down the dimly lit alleyways in Paris during the French Revolution.

    Then I was able to rise above the peer pressure, that I wasn’t pretty, intelligent, or popular at a prestigious high school. I was a captivated reader. The story of French people translated into Chinese was devoid of clichés yet colored by passion. I grew up and named my first child Victor, after my idol Victor Hugo.

    My 2nd reason was the censorship. My book would be banned, before it was even written in Chinese. I kept a blog in mainland China and learned many tricks to circumvent the internet censorship, [for example, using homophones to describe the taboo subjects]. Even worse is the self-censorship. A famous writer once said, “If you want to write honestly, you should write like an orphan.” I didn’t like being an orphan, so I’d say, “If you want to write honestly, write in a foreign language that your parents cannot understand.”

    I came to the U.S. at the age of nineteen, graduated from college at twenty-one, and became a computer engineer. At twenty-three, I had a midlife crisis. I went back to school, while working full time, and studied literature and writing. It was very hard work. From day one I knew I would support my writing life by working as an engineer. What got me through two decades of apprenticeship was not the prospect of being published, though it was nice that I finally got published, but the firm belief that I was doing something worthwhile. Having a job is to earn my keep from the society, but writing is to give back to the community my soul, my struggle, and my faith in humanity and future.

    Here is my 3rd reason to write in English: to communicate with people different from me—to educate them, entertain them, and affirm the values that we all hold dear: truth, love, courage, and selflessness.

    In a small way I was emulating the masters: Victor Hugo, Balzac, and Alexandre Dumas. Likewise, I wanted to tell stories of the faraway land that make people forget the trouble in their own lives, just for an instant, look up and see a bigger world full of people, who look like strangers, as you look more closely, you’ll find they are just like you, with the same longings, fears, and ambitions. Their children and your children will inherit the same world after you are gone.

    I got a lot of friendly advice over the years. They told me: You’re the first generation immigrant, and you’re a woman. You have to work and raise a family. You don’t have the luxury of chasing a dream. Wait until you are retired, your children in college, and then take your time to write. I didn’t take the sensible advice. Life is short. I’d rather multitask and fail, than wait and discover that my time has run out. If my life were a baseball game, I want to strike out swinging rather than strike out looking.

    I never argued with the wise people who warned me that I might fail. I had nothing to prove. Just do it.

    Writing is a lonely task. I found support in my friends and family. Just do it.

    1507476_1502346173373527_5548949826474802213_o

    It didn’t matter if I failed or succeeded. I am only limited by my timidity, my prejudice, and my own imagination.

    I told myself: Just do it. Keep doing it. And do more of it. Predictably, the wise people left me alone.

    I got a BA, an MA in English and an MFA in Creative Writing. My life got more hectic after I graduated, but I kept on writing. I had children, and they slowed me down. I used to write a book in a year and half, but Living Treasures took me five years to write and five more years to get it published. If I were a hare before, now I am a turtle. I plug away patiently and take in beautiful sceneries on my journey. As I grow older, I have less time to write. I focus on the essentials, the emotions, and no longer cringe to cut my favorite passages in order to advance the story.

    I learned much from watching my heroine develop and mature in the course of a novel. A young woman who wants to become a lawyer, Bao has so much to lose at the beginning: her virginity, her baby, and her career. When she’s confronted with evil, her conscience wakens. She takes a stand for what she believes in and risks everything in her life.

    Do we have the courage to fight for our true believes? If we look deep inside, we’ll find a hero or heroine buried under the layers of politeness, the mundane, and the compromises.

    If we are true to ourselves, that hero or heroine will awaken, summon their courage, elicit help, and open doors to new careers, new relationships, and creativities. Life is not merely a thing to be tolerated but celebrated. We become free even as we are trapped inside this transient shell, this small building, and this unjust world.

    Thank you.

    If you like, I’ll read a scene from my book . . .

    Share Button
  • Shape Shifting Santa

  • by Dr. Susan Patrice/Kasuku Magic  

    A theory cleverly uncommon
    Portrays Santa as a Shaman

    A revitalizing view, and also uplifting
    Was his practice of spiritual gifting

    Heaven and earth his chosen domains
    Traveling by sleigh tethered by reins

    Guiding flying reindeer
    One, not eight did first appear

    Climbing and Soaring in a star filled sky
    Gracefully that team would fly

    Gently onto the roof top they would glide
    Santa then stepping inside

    Pulling from his bag messages spirits wished to share
    Letting humans know they did care

    Offering hope and cheer
    For a more prosperous celebration the following year

    With encouragement to enjoy each moment of this day
    Honoring spirit memories on display

    The past, present, and future in a magical suspension
    Imbued with a visit from a timeless dimension

    Happy Holidays to everyone

    written by Dr. Susan Patrice/Kasuku Magic
    who recently died of cancer.

    Share Button
  • Publisher Guidelines

  • Publisher Harvard Square Editions is looking for literary fiction of environmental or social significance.

    Its mission is to publish fiction that transcends national boundaries, especially manuscripts that are international, political, literary, sci-fi, fantasy, utopia and distopia. Send submissions of aesthetic value and constructive social or political content, especially manuscripts related to climate change, deforestation, and conservation.

    Share Button
  • What’s On Your Bookshelf?

  • Wilson & Coughlon

    Elliot A. Wilson ’15 and Sarah E. Coughlon ’15 pose with their book collections. They are good friends but like to get competitive about their reading choices. Photo by Theresa Tharakan

    By ANNIE C. HARVIEUX, CRIMSON STAFF WRITER

    Although many Harvard students find themselves too busy to read for leisure, an affirming amount of the student population collects books and reads for fun, amassing some pretty exemplary bookshelves in the process.

    Competitive Reading

    “We should probably tell her about competitive reading,” Coughlon says to Wilson. It turns out the pair’s massive collection isn’t just a hobby—it’s a full-fledged rivalry. Both friends use the website Goodreads to track what they’ve read. Wilson explains, “I’d started in high school, and was mean to Sarah freshman year about her reading habits, and it just so happened that Goodreads instituted a Challenge Yourself book-reading competition, and so we ended up not only challenging ourselves, but each other. We both read 100 or more books [that] year.” [more via The Harvard Crimson]

     

    Share Button
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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

Brain Pickings

  • Wendell Berry on Solitude and Why Pride and Despair Are the Two Great Enemies of Creative Work
    "True solitude is found in the wild places, where one is without human obligation. One’s inner voices become audible... In consequence, one responds more clearly to other lives." Brain Pickings takes 450+ hours a month to curate and edit across the different platforms, and remains banner-free. If it brings you any joy and inspiration, please consider a modest donation – it lets me know I'm doing something right.
  • Close

  • Single-mom Kik Marcheson is doing the best she can. But effort doesn’t seem to count for much in the parenting department.

    Her oldest daughter, Doone, is swimming in the deep end of adolescence. Casey, the middle-child slash good-girl is fraying along the edges and Tess, a quirky kindergartner, has installed an imaginary playmate in the family abode.

    When Doone falls in with the wrong crowd, a TV therapist offers to help. And things do start to look up. But only for a while.

    Close, for future release, October 16th, 2014.

    Share Button
  • 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 to improve their ranking.

    Share Button

by Ben Mattlin (HC ’84)

  • CONVERSATIONS ABOUT INTER-ABLED ROMANCE, part 5...
    Like all romantic entanglements, the reasons for their tensions—tensions, which eventually led the invisible rubber band between them to snap—weren't quite clear.  Or maybe they were entirely too clear.  Telling me about it, Shane struggled for the right words, but his meaning rang with the clarity of breaking glass. "For a while, she was planning on moving up here to be with me, to be able to help out with all my [...]

by Teresa Hsiao (HC ’07)

  • Rap Dream
    Growing up, I had two life goals. The first was to own a half-dog, half-monkey that I would call a "donkey" (pronounced...

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

Tweets From Bill McKibben

billmckibben 3 hours agoJust can't get over the news today of NY's #fracking ban. When you organize you win. Upstate power! (w/a big shoutout to the city too)