Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Book Swapping

Hey, the economy's pretty lame, so it's cool that there are tons of options to swap books or get books on the cheap, or even leave books on a bench or airport somewhere for somebody else to enjoy, according to this AP article

Of course, there's always the library. 

I hate to admit it, but I'm kind of a book collector. I like having the books on shelves to show my reading taste. Of course, the way digital media's going, I suppose that may one day be like collecting stamps -- something people do, but far less common. 

Who knows. One thing I do know, though, speaking of digital media, is I really want one of those Amazon Kindles. Then again, I guess if I swapped more books, maybe I could save money faster for one!

Keep on reading...


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Something We Forgot To Do

Thanks to HarperCollins, I now know what many of us have forgotten to do all along in pursuing our goals to become published authors. We forgot to get on TV!

Okay, I don't watch The Hills but one might now think maybe it's a veritable breeding ground for publishing achievement. I ran across a Reuters article saying The Hills star Lauren Conrad is going to write a series of young adult books called -- get this -- L.A. Candy. (Ohhh... based on her own life, no less!) 

Somebody please help me...

Maybe I'm being extremely unkind to Ms. Conrad, perhaps she's a great writer, although the name L.A. Candy doesn't really tempt me to believe we'll realize the missing Bronte sister was hiding in plain sight on prime-time TV. (Who knew?) 

It's just another reminder that a lot of the old school media companies have a serious problem. I mean, wow, it might be a lot harder to find real talent so let's just find somebody with name recognition so the finished product may sell itself no matter what. Done! That was easy.

Oh well, I'm certainly no young adult so it goes without saying I'll be skipping this one. Acting lessons, anyone? 

Keep on acting... (ahem!) writing!


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Not So Literary

This isn't literary at all. I was recently looking around for an e-card for a friend's birthday. (I'm bad with birthdays too, but occasionally remember them, sigh.) And I just recalled how so many e-greeting sites are just horrendously awful, insipid, so sweet your skin might exfoliate from even coming into contact with so much sugar, seeming to assume everybody in the world is perpetually 5 years old or something. I mean, I've been known to send them anyway, gritting my teeth and thinking, "It's the thought that counts. Right? Right?!? Is my friend going to think I'm that cheesy? I'm just trying to remember a birthday and of course, of COURSE I didn't go out and get a card!"

Come to think of it, most paper greeting cards are likely to put somebody in a diabetic coma too, so I guess there's precedent for the electronic versions to aspire to the same level of complete disconnect from reality. And maybe this is a semi-literary post; I guess some starving writers probably make some money by writing some of those rhyming poems with "so much heartfelt emotion" or whatever (and come on, it's never quite right). I'm not sure I've ever heard of somebody getting that gig, though.

But come on, there's a market, I'm sure, for things like, "Happy Birthday Dad, even though you really haven't been much of a dad to me, but I know you've been more of a dad to somebody..." (See, that even kind of rhymes, too, if you kind of emphasis the "ee" sound at the end of "somebody.")  

Well anyway I stumbled across a site with much more edgy (and in some cases kinda mean) e-cards, called Some E-cards. Some of the "sentiments" (i.e., not very sentimental) made me laugh out loud. I wasn't crazy about the artwork, but I'm willing to forgive it for that, since the cutesy cartoons on some other e-card sites are just... so... awful. 

Anyway I thought I'd pass it on, fwiw. (And I hope I haven't offended anybody out there who maybe does write sappy sentiments for greeting card companies... hey, we all do what we gotta do.)

Keep on reading, writing and greeting...


Monday, September 08, 2008

Short But Sweet

Narrative magazine delivered a pleasant surprise to my email inbox recently; it's now sending out a Story of the Week. They're short shorts published every Wednesday, and meant to highlight new and emerging writers. That's pretty cool, since it can be difficult to keep up with all the different literary magazines and hey, might as well use technology to literary advantage and remind people what's out there and when.

Last week's Story of the Week gave me hope that maybe using second person is no longer literary taboo. (I have one story in my repertoire that's written in second person, and have pondered the fact that some editors likely consider that quite rude and uncalled for, and then realized I really didn't care.) 

Also, Narrative opened up its Fall Fiction Contest, in case anybody's itching to shell out $20 for the reading fee and contend. (Hey, $3000 first prize sure would be nice for some starving writer out there, eh?)

As tempting as it may be not to care due to fears of some dire accident with that atom smasher thingie in Geneva (perhaps Wednesday I won't be reading the Story of the Week and instead will be regretting not embarking on some crazy bender tomorrow?), it's nice to see some venues are realizing email's an easy way to get people reading (and back on a site).

Keep on writing, don't fear the black holes...


Thursday, September 04, 2008

A New York Minute?

I think "a New York minute" means "fast." For The New Yorker, I think maybe there's no such thing when it comes to fiction submissions. In the horrifically long while since I last posted, I sent another submission to The New Yorker (I guess it's just a dumb habit I have when I have a new story I'm psyched about), and never received a response. When I queried, they simply responded they never received it (it was a canned response about receiving so many submissions, yadda yadda), and that I could send it again if I wanted to. You know, this was after, like, months and months and months and months. 

I don't know, you'd think they'd at least use the wonders of technology to do a search for it, but no, you can resend it and get back in the queue (which apparently is a bit disorganized if stuff just goes missing). (Speaking of the wonders of technology, so many journals now have online submission systems, but last I knew, The New Yorker still uses old-fashioned email. Better than paper-only submissions, but it seems weird to me.)

That's so completely sub-optimal, which is ironic for a major magazine that publishes short stories and is considered one of the gold standard publications for fiction writers. Not that you can break in there anyway if you're a nobody, I guess, but at least they could keep up the illusion that they actually give some kind of a crap. 

Oh well. Unfortunately The New Yorker is such a renowned publication (that actually pays, the exception to the rule) that I'm sure I will keep up with my strange little ritual (tic?) of throwing stuff their way, and probably get abused in that manner again, probably sometime soon. It's part of my philosophy that tenacity is the only way to get anywhere in this business, but that doesn't make it less irritating. I mean, respect might be nice, even in the slush pile. 


Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Lost Time

It looks like I've been out of the loop for, oh, a year and a half. That's terrible. Embarrassing. Laughably sad. And there's really not even a good excuse. 

It's not like I've done anything shocking or depraved in the meantime. No binges, scandals, torrid love affairs to add fodder to my literary life. No alien abductions or any such reasonable excuse. Sad! I've still been writing... and reading... still toiling at the day job (which is time consuming)... still buying some literary magazine subscriptions to support the industry once in a while... sometimes even getting around to reading those literary magazines! (Although right now I have a major backlog of magazine reading of all stripes lying around here needing to be read.) And of course, I've still been writing (I've probably created about five or six new short stories over the last year and a half), sending out submissions, and getting rejected just as regularly as before. 

I still love Duotrope's Digest for tracking my progress (or lack thereof) even though I often wonder about the folks who apparently report an unrealistic ratio of acceptances/rejections (Duotrope blocks them from their data). Losers (the people who don't accurately report, not Duotrope). Come on, tell it like it REALLY is! It's a rough life in the literary world, and I'm pretty sure you'd need to be some kind of Pulitzer Prize winner to have some kind of crazy 100% acceptance rate. Sorry, maybe I'm just cynical.  

I believe I posted here ages ago about the site LibraryThing, but in the time that's passed it looks as if GoodReads is the social networking tool of choice for readers these days. I felt like LibraryThing had a better, more intuitive interface than GoodReads does now, but then again, GoodReads is a better name for the thing and seems to have taken off much more. Kind of reminds me of how everybody seemed to forget all about Friendster for MySpace (and maybe eventually will ditch MySpace for Facebook)? Ah, the fickle world of social networking tools. Maybe I'm wrong, but I have definitely had more friends invite me to GoodReads. 

Anyway, I guess I've been going for the prize for lamest blogger ever (and this is a blog about writing, no less!), but I'm going to try to get this going again, and post a bit more often than every year and a half, and definitely add some comments about some of the stuff I've read/encountered recently. Quite a goal!! Let's see if I can handle it... baby steps... hopefully the next post won't be in 2010!!