Thursday, April 28, 2011

Messing with Art V: Royal Wedding Week Edition

In honor of the royal wedding tomorrow, I give you this:

Messing with Art V: Royal Wedding Week Edition

In honor of the royal wedding tomorrow, I give you this:

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Indie Vs. Legacy Publishing Video

Here it is: indie publishing's effect on legacy publishing in one easy-to-follow video:

Indie Vs. Legacy Publishing Video

Here it is: indie publishing's effect on legacy publishing in one easy-to-follow video:

Adventures in Messing with Art IV

File this under "bored on Wednesday."

Adventures in Messing with Art IV

File this under "bored on Wednesday."

Friday, April 22, 2011

I'm On Goodreads Now!

I'm embarrassed to say that I've only just signed up to be on Goodreads. Not sure why I never did this before. Anyway, you can find me here. Have a good weekend!

I'm On Goodreads Now!

I'm embarrassed to say that I've only just signed up to be on Goodreads. Not sure why I never did this before. Anyway, you can find me here. Have a good weekend!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Adventures in Messing with Art III

Is it Friday yet?

Adventures in Messing with Art III

Is it Friday yet?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Adventures in Screwing with Art Part II

It's a slow day, guys.

Adventures in Screwing with Art Part II

It's a slow day, guys.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Micro Tip of the Day

Here's today's micro tip: don't write in the first person. I was taking a gander over at Nathan Bransford's excellent blog and he's going to help someone workshop a page they submitted to him from their novel. I read the first few lines of the writing and stopped, dead in my tracks. The word "I" appeared twice, and already I was annoyed.

Unless done really, really well (and honestly, I don't even know what I mean by "well" because off the top of my head, I can't think of a good example of first person done well), I cannot handle stories written in the first person. I don't read books to get inside another person's skin. I read them to observe people from afar, to watch them screw their lives up and put them back together again without having to get involved. When I start seeing the word "I" dotting the page, I feel that I'm being dragged into the mix as a confidante or something, and it wigs me out.

So knock it off, all of you experimental folks out there, who feel you want to tuck the reader down the front of your shirt and hold him there, baby-like, hard against your chest, as you jump off a cliff into the unknown. It's a violation, and I have to throw my writing referee flag on you: personal foul, roughing the reader, ten yards from the spot of the foul.

Micro Tip of the Day

Here's today's micro tip: don't write in the first person. I was taking a gander over at Nathan Bransford's excellent blog and he's going to help someone workshop a page they submitted to him from their novel. I read the first few lines of the writing and stopped, dead in my tracks. The word "I" appeared twice, and already I was annoyed.

Unless done really, really well (and honestly, I don't even know what I mean by "well" because off the top of my head, I can't think of a good example of first person done well), I cannot handle stories written in the first person. I don't read books to get inside another person's skin. I read them to observe people from afar, to watch them screw their lives up and put them back together again without having to get involved. When I start seeing the word "I" dotting the page, I feel that I'm being dragged into the mix as a confidante or something, and it wigs me out.

So knock it off, all of you experimental folks out there, who feel you want to tuck the reader down the front of your shirt and hold him there, baby-like, hard against your chest, as you jump off a cliff into the unknown. It's a violation, and I have to throw my writing referee flag on you: personal foul, roughing the reader, ten yards from the spot of the foul.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Adventures in Screwing with Art

I should be writing, but I find myself instead messing around with historical artwork. Check out this mash-up:

Adventures in Screwing with Art

I should be writing, but I find myself instead messing around with historical artwork. Check out this mash-up:

Monday, April 11, 2011

Blood Kindle

You've got to love it when an establishment figure panics. When they go full-tilt into defending something, whether it be a business model or a person that's clearly not up to snuff. Well, I read a hilarious/sad article by Bill Henderson today in Publisher's Weekly railing against e-readers and let me tell you, it's a doozy.

It seems it's beyond some people's capacity to handle the coming tide of digital books. Sure, I like libraries and book stores as much as the next guy (provided the book store is a mom and pop place where the books are piled willy-nilly all over the place, and the owner/cash register attendant doesn't look up from the obscure 17th-century Prussian romance he's reading to ring up my order). But come on. Who has time to go to a book store anymore?

And anyway, I'm tired of hearing about all the great authors who were never published. The digital format allows all authors to upload their books FOR FREE and send them out into the ether to find an audience. So no more excuses for those humble, starving artist who were brilliant but never made it through the big mean publishing house juggernaut. Time to put up or shut up.

The best part of this screed is how the guy says e-readers are much worse for the environment than books are. Ok, I concede that e-readers don't have a positive impact on the environment. It's not like manufacturing a Nook will repopulate a dead lake in Michigan. But let's remember, we're in the infant stages of this e-revolution. E-readers will become more and more efficient going forward, with their manufacturers trying to leave an ever lighter carbon footprint with each iteration, so that someday we will get to a point where we will be able to read any book ever written on a device that does not harm the environment one iota.

And what kind of a fear-mongerer and moral Puritan tries to scare people away from buying e-readers because they might vaguely be contributing to strife in war-torn Africa? Examples, please. I'm pretty sure Kindles are not blood diamonds. I mean: are you serious? And then he equates the possible future disappearance of libraries with a "digital book burning," evoking scenes straight out of the Holocaust and Stalin's Russia???

This all (uncomfortably) reminds me of those bludgeoning TV ads from a few years ago where a kid looks at a bag of weed he just bought. He has a self-satisfied look on his face until he looks up and--surprise!--he finds that all the ghosts of the people who died in drug gang activity surrounding that dime bag have come back to haunt him. It's soooo moralistic it makes me wince.

And what on earth do e-book readers have to do with lessening our attention span? Won't people be uploading philosophical tracts along with the latest book in the Twilight series? Henderson conflates Twitter and e-readers here, weirdly over-extending his argument.

Books--and trust me, I loves me some books--are a static form. They will not evolve anymore. They are the Loch Ness monster lampooned at the bottom of some godforsaken Scottish lake. Ok? Let's try to stay positive about this: e-books are a great way for people to practice the craft they love while making money at it. And the technology will catch up with green demands. Anyway, that's what I believe.

Blood Kindle

You've got to love it when an establishment figure panics. When they go full-tilt into defending something, whether it be a business model or a person that's clearly not up to snuff. Well, I read a hilarious/sad article by Bill Henderson today in Publisher's Weekly railing against e-readers and let me tell you, it's a doozy.

It seems it's beyond some people's capacity to handle the coming tide of digital books. Sure, I like libraries and book stores as much as the next guy (provided the book store is a mom and pop place where the books are piled willy-nilly all over the place, and the owner/cash register attendant doesn't look up from the obscure 17th-century Prussian romance he's reading to ring up my order). But come on. Who has time to go to a book store anymore?

And anyway, I'm tired of hearing about all the great authors who were never published. The digital format allows all authors to upload their books FOR FREE and send them out into the ether to find an audience. So no more excuses for those humble, starving artist who were brilliant but never made it through the big mean publishing house juggernaut. Time to put up or shut up.

The best part of this screed is how the guy says e-readers are much worse for the environment than books are. Ok, I concede that e-readers don't have a positive impact on the environment. It's not like manufacturing a Nook will repopulate a dead lake in Michigan. But let's remember, we're in the infant stages of this e-revolution. E-readers will become more and more efficient going forward, with their manufacturers trying to leave an ever lighter carbon footprint with each iteration, so that someday we will get to a point where we will be able to read any book ever written on a device that does not harm the environment one iota.

And what kind of a fear-mongerer and moral Puritan tries to scare people away from buying e-readers because they might vaguely be contributing to strife in war-torn Africa? Examples, please. I'm pretty sure Kindles are not blood diamonds. I mean: are you serious? And then he equates the possible future disappearance of libraries with a "digital book burning," evoking scenes straight out of the Holocaust and Stalin's Russia???

This all (uncomfortably) reminds me of those bludgeoning TV ads from a few years ago where a kid looks at a bag of weed he just bought. He has a self-satisfied look on his face until he looks up and--surprise!--he finds that all the ghosts of the people who died in drug gang activity surrounding that dime bag have come back to haunt him. It's soooo moralistic it makes me wince.

And what on earth do e-book readers have to do with lessening our attention span? Won't people be uploading philosophical tracts along with the latest book in the Twilight series? Henderson conflates Twitter and e-readers here, weirdly over-extending his argument.

Books--and trust me, I loves me some books--are a static form. They will not evolve anymore. They are the Loch Ness monster lampooned at the bottom of some godforsaken Scottish lake. Ok? Let's try to stay positive about this: e-books are a great way for people to practice the craft they love while making money at it. And the technology will catch up with green demands. Anyway, that's what I believe.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Did Your Guy Die?

So I live in Washington, DC. And it's tourist season. For people the world over, it's a time to descend on DC to stroll the national mall, take in an IMAX movie at the Natural History Museum, watch the cherry blossoms, uh...blossom. But for us locals, it's a time to dig a twenty foot hole in the ground and hide for the next four months. Suffice it to say that, while there are some lovely tourists who, through their mystified, awe-struck expressions help you remember what a truly beautiful city you live in, most make it their job to gum up escalators and sidewalks and are the most annoying crowd this side of a termite colony.

But something a tourist said yesterday on the subway home has stuck with me (I'm assuming they were tourists, judging by the clothes they were wearing, the uniform of the every-tourist: baggy cargo shorts; XXL-sized matching wolf print shirts; mirrored, tinted-yellow sunglasses). The woman of the couple said: "Did your guy die?" When her beard-bedecked husband said, "Huh?" she repeated, much more loudly: "DID YOUR GUY DIE???" Note to tourists: do not raise your voice above a low hum on the metro - everyone around you has put in at least a 9-hour workday, and that kind of disturbance is enough to start a civil war.

Her comment, however loud in its delivery, is still buzzing around my brain. Had they just been at the Holocaust Museum? I went there once (not for the faint of heart), and years ago, they would assign you an identity card upon entry. Printed on the card was a summary of a person who had been interned at a concentration camp: height, weight, background, reason for internment: all of it was printed on the card. By the end of the harrowing visit, you got to find out if your person survived the camps or not. Thank God, my person survived.

Was that what she was talking about? Or was she referring to a contractor with whom her husband had been working? A man who'd fallen off a roof while re-tiling it? What? WHAT??? I wanted to know the story.

And then it clicked for me. Everything is a story. Every. Thing. And everyone, at all times, either wants to be part of a living story, or they want to be reading one. And this is the greatest all-time boon to the writer: life is tailor-made for us to write about it. Why am I writing this? Probably more to psych myself up than anything. But from what I've read on Twitter, lots of people have shelved stories because life has become too hectic, or they aren't feeling their stories anymore. This is no good. You have to--HAVE TO--get back to work, and don't stop until you've finished writing.

One of the saddest things I ever heard a writer say was during an interview I read with William Monahan. Monahan wrote the screenplay for The Departed, for which he won the Oscar. He's a terrific, terrific writer. I loved that movie. I even read the screenplay and believe me: the screenplay is even better than the movie. There's stuff they left out of the movie that you can't believe. But he didn't start out as a screenwriter. He started as a journalist, and then moved into writing short stories. He published a collection of short stories, and they went nowhere (they were optioned by some movie production house, but then stalled). So he said he wanted to move into a field where he could have an impact, where people would respect him, implying that print was dead.

Ok, sure. Print is going the way of the Allosaurus, but give me a break! You want to stop writing short stories just because short story writers aren't as respected as they once were? Are you kidding me??? Well, Monahan has done just fine. But for all of you out there who are considering hanging up your uniform (and I've been in that camp more often than I care to admit), don't do it. Without having published myself, again, I'm saying this just as much to super-charge my own engines and anyone else's, but here it is: self-publish you work. Get your stuff out into the hands of people who love to read, and do it at a competitive price. Because there will always be a market for good stuff, no matter how it's packaged. Just ask that lady on the subway.

Did Your Guy Die?

So I live in Washington, DC. And it's tourist season. For people the world over, it's a time to descend on DC to stroll the national mall, take in an IMAX movie at the Natural History Museum, watch the cherry blossoms, uh...blossom. But for us locals, it's a time to dig a twenty foot hole in the ground and hide for the next four months. Suffice it to say that, while there are some lovely tourists who, through their mystified, awe-struck expressions help you remember what a truly beautiful city you live in, most make it their job to gum up escalators and sidewalks and are the most annoying crowd this side of a termite colony.

But something a tourist said yesterday on the subway home has stuck with me (I'm assuming they were tourists, judging by the clothes they were wearing, the uniform of the every-tourist: baggy cargo shorts; XXL-sized matching wolf print shirts; mirrored, tinted-yellow sunglasses). The woman of the couple said: "Did your guy die?" When her beard-bedecked husband said, "Huh?" she repeated, much more loudly: "DID YOUR GUY DIE???" Note to tourists: do not raise your voice above a low hum on the metro - everyone around you has put in at least a 9-hour workday, and that kind of disturbance is enough to start a civil war.

Her comment, however loud in its delivery, is still buzzing around my brain. Had they just been at the Holocaust Museum? I went there once (not for the faint of heart), and years ago, they would assign you an identity card upon entry. Printed on the card was a summary of a person who had been interned at a concentration camp: height, weight, background, reason for internment: all of it was printed on the card. By the end of the harrowing visit, you got to find out if your person survived the camps or not. Thank God, my person survived.

Was that what she was talking about? Or was she referring to a contractor with whom her husband had been working? A man who'd fallen off a roof while re-tiling it? What? WHAT??? I wanted to know the story.

And then it clicked for me. Everything is a story. Every. Thing. And everyone, at all times, either wants to be part of a living story, or they want to be reading one. And this is the greatest all-time boon to the writer: life is tailor-made for us to write about it. Why am I writing this? Probably more to psych myself up than anything. But from what I've read on Twitter, lots of people have shelved stories because life has become too hectic, or they aren't feeling their stories anymore. This is no good. You have to--HAVE TO--get back to work, and don't stop until you've finished writing.

One of the saddest things I ever heard a writer say was during an interview I read with William Monahan. Monahan wrote the screenplay for The Departed, for which he won the Oscar. He's a terrific, terrific writer. I loved that movie. I even read the screenplay and believe me: the screenplay is even better than the movie. There's stuff they left out of the movie that you can't believe. But he didn't start out as a screenwriter. He started as a journalist, and then moved into writing short stories. He published a collection of short stories, and they went nowhere (they were optioned by some movie production house, but then stalled). So he said he wanted to move into a field where he could have an impact, where people would respect him, implying that print was dead.

Ok, sure. Print is going the way of the Allosaurus, but give me a break! You want to stop writing short stories just because short story writers aren't as respected as they once were? Are you kidding me??? Well, Monahan has done just fine. But for all of you out there who are considering hanging up your uniform (and I've been in that camp more often than I care to admit), don't do it. Without having published myself, again, I'm saying this just as much to super-charge my own engines and anyone else's, but here it is: self-publish you work. Get your stuff out into the hands of people who love to read, and do it at a competitive price. Because there will always be a market for good stuff, no matter how it's packaged. Just ask that lady on the subway.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The second post hurdle

I've started scads of blogs that I was excited about, that I put my full effort behind crafting a great first post...and then totally abandoned. Upon reflection, the novel idea for blogs that I thought I had--writing about only the negative parts of films everyone loved ("Film Negatives"), a blog that lampooned the social media boom ("Tech Dump")--turned out to be not that great.

So, that's why I'm excited about my second blog post! I'm still writing my first YA novel, so I don't have much to report on business-wise at the moment, though I have been following "author monetization week" and discussion of Kindle millionaires on Nathan Bransford's terrific blog, and getting excited.

The big question for me (and I'm not even close to being able to upload my book to the Kindle, Nook, et al. at this point) is how to price a first book? I don't want to under-value it (by the end of the process, it will have taken me a couple of years to get from square one to a finished product), but then again, according to Amanda Hocking, she prices the first books in her series at 99 cents in order to get readers interested. And I haven't even thought about paperback publishing through Smashwords or whoever yet.

Anyway, best not to get way out on a limb at this point. I'm only able to invest one hour per day in writing (an hour and a half if I'm lucky!) which is SO not even remotely enough time to put into something as arduous a craft as writing. But I'm steadily pushing forward, hoping my little snowball, with enough effort, will turn into a massive, Indiana Jones-style boulder of ice and sludge (OK, that metaphor just went off a cliff) in the months ahead!

The second post hurdle

I've started scads of blogs that I was excited about, that I put my full effort behind crafting a great first post...and then totally abandoned. Upon reflection, the novel idea for blogs that I thought I had--writing about only the negative parts of films everyone loved ("Film Negatives"), a blog that lampooned the social media boom ("Tech Dump")--turned out to be not that great.

So, that's why I'm excited about my second blog post! I'm still writing my first YA novel, so I don't have much to report on business-wise at the moment, though I have been following "author monetization week" and discussion of Kindle millionaires on Nathan Bransford's terrific blog, and getting excited.

The big question for me (and I'm not even close to being able to upload my book to the Kindle, Nook, et al. at this point) is how to price a first book? I don't want to under-value it (by the end of the process, it will have taken me a couple of years to get from square one to a finished product), but then again, according to Amanda Hocking, she prices the first books in her series at 99 cents in order to get readers interested. And I haven't even thought about paperback publishing through Smashwords or whoever yet.

Anyway, best not to get way out on a limb at this point. I'm only able to invest one hour per day in writing (an hour and a half if I'm lucky!) which is SO not even remotely enough time to put into something as arduous a craft as writing. But I'm steadily pushing forward, hoping my little snowball, with enough effort, will turn into a massive, Indiana Jones-style boulder of ice and sludge (OK, that metaphor just went off a cliff) in the months ahead!