From heart-breaking love letters and heart-warming thank you cards, to notes veering on creepy.
Ann Patchett on the Post, in the Post
In an opinion piece in the Washington Post, author and bookseller Ann Patchett offered a somewhat friendly if wary welcome to new Post owner Jeff Bezos…and ended with a bit of bookseller-to-bookseller advice:
“Since it’s safe to assume that Bezos is reading the Post thoroughly these days, let me offer a piece of advice that will benefit us both: Expand the book review offerings. Nothing beats newspaper reviews for selling books. And bookselling, after all, is one of the businesses we’re both in.”
5 Forgotten Grimm’s Fairy Tales
This year is the 200th anniversary of the publication of the Brothers Grimm’s collection of household fairytales. While Jacob and his younger brother Wilhelm weren’t only interested in folklore — they published works on history, ethnography, lexicography, and law — it’s the fairytales that we remember them for, Mental Floss reports.
“For every Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White or Rapunzel, there are literally dozens of much more obscure and certainly more bizarre Grimm fairytales. Like the one about the Mouse, the Bird, and the Sausage. What about these tales didn’t quite capture the imagination the way the others did?”
Top 10 descriptions of food in fiction
From Roald Dahl’s Whipple Scrumptious Fudgemallow Delight to Enid Blyton’s magnificent picnics (with lashings of ginger beer), Guardian children’s fiction prize-longlisted author Katherine Rundell picks her favourite fictional foody descriptions”
Flavorwire offers a recommended books list with a twist.
“The Internet (this site not the least bit exempt) is fond of telling you which books you should read. Particularly, it seems, when you’re in your 20s. But now that you have enough of those lists to last you a lifetime, which books should you make sure to steer clear from in this most transitional and tender of decades? Well, here are a few to consider. Disclaimer: all of these (okay, most of these) are good books. They’re books you should read. Just not in your 20s.”
Example: The Painted Bird, Jerzy Kosinski — “Look, your 20s are disturbing enough. No need to push it.”
When a librarian bans a book
Banned Books Week is a useful but usually timid affair. Libraries and bookstores put up displays of banned books from the past. There is mild interest for a day or two, and then it’s all forgotten for another year.
Librarian Scott DiMarco took a different approach. He put a notice on his Facebook wall that he had banned a book by a campus figure.
“The angry reaction from students, faculty, alumni, and other ‘interested parties,’ was immediate. A local newspaper reporter contacted Miller within 20 minutes of the posting. A Facebook protest page was created within a day and people from around the country were voicing their angry thoughts…”
Tip the Author
Yup. Do this thing. If you’re willing to leave a couple of bucks for the person who brings you a coffee in a diner, can you leave at least a review for an author whose work you’ve liked?
“In my other business, I frequently work for tips, or at least partly for tips. So I know that feeling of someone slipping a larger bill than anticipated in my hand and telling me ‘you did a great job, thank you!’ So how, you might ask, can you tip an author? … you can leave a review of their story.”
The Scale of the Universe 2
Zoom from the edge of the universe to the quantum foam of spacetime and learn about everything in between.
Sometimes the sex talk goes horribly wrong…
I’ve never had kids, so I have been spared this, although sometimes the characters in my novels do something similar to me.
“Let me start out by saying that as a marriage and family therapist, I highly encourage parents to have an open dialogue about sex and sexuality. My general philosophy (so as to not let this happen) is to let a child ask questions, and let them hear about important topics from you as opposed to their peers. Then, respond naturally without shame or embarrassment because this is a natural process and a natural conversation.
Apparently God likes jokes, because he gave me a child who pushes against that philosophy. Hard.”
“The opening scene of a book can make or break it. The opening is a hook that keeps you reading; it’s your introduction to the world the author has created. We’ve compiled the 10 best opening scenes in some of our favorite books…” e.g.:
“To say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband’s dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward, it should be noted, was still twitching upon the floor.” — Deana Raybourn, ‘Silent in the Grave’
I’m partial to the opening line of ‘Gift of the Unmage’, the first book in my WORLDWEAVERS series which has just been reissued:
“You smell angry,” Aunt Zoe said as she walked in through the door, sniffing in Thea’s direction like a hound dog scenting prey.”
My husband in his role as my editor has definitely had an influence on me.
I just wrote the line: “something very much like sardonic amusement” – and I clearly heard his voice behind me saying “weasel word!”
He wasn’t behind me; he was in his own office on another floor.
Nevertheless, I said, “yes sir,” and erased “something very much like”. It was sardonic amusement, dammit. And I will state it categorically.
Problems Only Introverts Will Understand
#19. This! Oh, yes. THIS.
Most of the rest of it, too. But #19 nails it.
Highbrow Authors Who Gave Acting a Try
Truman Capote as Lionel Twain in Murder by Death (1976)…
Can you tell when authors are writing for kids?
As writers such as James Joyce, Jeanette Winterson and Salman Rushdie show, you’re never too big to write for children. But what happens to prose style when they get down with the kids?
Vadzim Khudabets has taken bits from over 50 sci-fi movies—some good (The Dark Knight, Sunshine), some bad (The Last Airbender, Prince of Persia), and a lot in-between—and made the trailer for Eterna, the most epic, apocalyptic, explode-y movie to never exist.
I am seldom reduced to one-word responses, but I am by this site. The
word is WOW!
Websites for book lovers
Readers, writers, publishers, editors, and everybody in between are tweeting, pinning, Facebooking and blogging about their favorite books.
The 25 Best Websites for Literature Lovers — (26, counting mine)
The NPR book club for young readers asked listeners for their favorite books for kids age 9-14. Several hundred titles were offered and a panel reduced that to 100 must-reads.
The final 100 has a little bit of everything: tales of trying to fit in, escaping to magical lands, facing prejudice, coming of age and fighting to survive. There are animal stories, pioneer sagas, science-fiction adventures and, of course, beloved classics.
There are thousands of abandoned big box stores sitting empty all over America, including hundreds of former Walmart stores. One of the Walmarts, however, has been reincarnated to a higher form — a library.
The store in McAllen, Texas, has been turned into a 124,500-square-foot public library, the largest single-floor public library in the United States.
7 Deadly Sins of Worldbuilding
“Worldbuilding is an essential part of any work of fiction. But especially for science fiction or fantasy, it’s the lifeblood of storytelling. But when worldbuilding fails, it can wreck your whole story, and leave your characters feeling pointless. Here are seven deadly sins of worldbuilding.” — Charlie Jane Anders
A flight simulator in the bedroom
Laurent Aigon, 40, from Lacanau in France, has spent the last five years collecting and buying components from around the world in order to put together a Boeing 737 flight simulator — in his son’s bedroom.
The answer is — ROMANCE.
“A whopping 81 percent of those surveyed listed romance as their favorite genre with mystery coming in a very distant second at almost 5 percent. According to the Romance Writers of America, romance was the top-performing category on the major bestseller lists in 2012.”
The Decline and Fall of the Book Cover
“Getting to design your own book cover is the sort of ultimately maddening power that probably shouldn’t be entrusted to vain mortals. It’s a little like getting to choose your own face…”
Having done a couple, I can’t argue with that — although the cover I did for my ‘Houses in Africa‘ has garnered some nice comments.
And speaking of covers… (NSFW)
“We … this … we just don’t know.”
Great Science Fiction Stories by Women
Women have been writing good science fiction since the beginnings of the genre but are too often underrepresented in ‘best’ lists.
“The list below contains 100 pieces of short fiction by women writers, published between 1927 and 2012. Each author appears only once.”
A video of a Fox News host asking an author who is Muslim why he would write a book about Jesus went viral. But such a thing is not unheard of.
Grim anthology places in cover contest
An anthology, Beyond Grimm, that includes a story of mine has taken third place in the July cover contest over at You Gotta Read Reviews.
Author George Saunders’s Advice to Graduates
“Down through the ages, a traditional form has evolved for this type of speech, which is: Some old fart, his best years behind him, who, over the course of his life, has made a series of dreadful mistakes (that would be me), gives heartfelt advice to a group of shining, energetic young people, with all of their best years ahead of them (that would be you).
And I intend to respect that tradition.”
Books To Read Before They Hit The Big Screen
Because 99% of the time, the books are better than the movies. Some of these film adaptations, though, look really promising.
The Secret Life of Bees...
A piece by by Emily Temple reports: “The Internet loves nothing more than cats, but it’s rare that we look beyond the cute photos and memes to more seriously consider their place in our world. Flavorwire’s Highbrow Cat Week is an attempt to remedy that, with a series of pieces devoted to analyzing their impact on the cultural realm.
“Looking for something that’s kind of like a cat video, but a little more literary? Writers have long been inspired by their pets, and particularly, it seems, by their cats. It’s not surprising then that our feline friends figure prominently in some great books, from Russian classics to YA masterpieces to that one book everyone has definitely read….”
Read the whole cat book article here
The Washington Post has come up with descriptions of novels in just 12 words.
Anna Karenina? No problem. “Happy families are all alike; unhappy families should watch out for trains.”
Gone With the Wind? “Fiddle-dee-dee. Boom! Atlanta burns, we’re birthin’ babies. Frankly, my dear . . . New South.”
The Post challenged readers to post their own at the paper’s site, or on Twitter with the hashtag #12wordnovels
So here’s mine for my latest novel:
2012: Midnight at Spanish Gardens – “Go through the door, you’re not you; but you could be again.“
‘Tis that time of year again, and as always I have a few items that are available for those who wish signed stuff to put under the tree for friends and family. I have two Christmas Club offers and they are:
1) “2012: Midnight at Spanish Gardens” – Four For $50.
Here’s how it works: you get four copies of the book for $50, and from here you have a choice of a couple of scenarios.
Scenario the first: The first book is signed and personalized TO YOU. The other three books are just signed, and YOU get to do the rest – you personalize them, from YOU, as Christmas presents to three of your best buddies.
Alternatively, you can give the remaining three books to one friend, and tell him or her to keep one and pass the remaining two to a friend of their own with instructions to keep one copy and give the final book in the chain to a friend of THEIRS.
Scenario the second: you give me four names (yours, and three friends) and I sign and personalize the books directly to the named recipients and you get to hand them out yourself to specific people. The world supposedly ENDS on the 21st of this month, folks – give your friends something good to read for the End Times! To get them in time for Christmas you want to this NOW!?
2) “Secrets of Jin Shei” – Two For $60.
Same general idea as above, except you get an extra copy to share with your very very best friend, your own “jin shei bao”, the family you have chosen for yourself from all the other human beings whom you have met in the course of your life.
The editions I am offering are from the last box I have of the original hardcover first editions, the ones with the amazing cover; when these are gone, they are gone.
This particular edition has been out of print for some time. This year, I am only offering four of the sets – i.e. eight books, total. Signed and personalized to you and to your friend.
3) “River”, the anthology. $20
That includes book and shipping. This is an award-nominated collection, with the fabled Map of Contents instead of the ordinary pedestrian Table of Contents. It contains stories by Jay Lake, Nisi Shawl, Seanan McGuire, Irene Radford, Joshua Palmatier, Keffy Kehrli, and other fab writers – it’s a cool collection by lots of cool people, and it is a book I am so very proud of. If ever there has been a river you loved in your life, you need this book.
4) The Worldweavers books are about to be re-released in new editions. I still have quite a quantity of Spellspam, in both hardcover and paperback editions. HC at $20, PB at $10.
5) The Ebook Extravaganza – leave me a message about what you are after, and we can come to an arrangement. ebooks on offer: all the Alexander Triads (go look on Amazon or Smashwords!) the ebook editions of “Midnight at Spanish Gardens” and “Embers of Heaven”. Prices vary. I can either send you gift copies of the ebooks, or a voucher with which you can purchase it yourself from the site of your choice.
Shipping of physical books, media mail, is included in the prices quoted above – within the US. Overseas orders will have the price of the package adjusted to reflect ACTUAL shipping costs – and be warned that these may run to $20-$30 (US). Happy to do it, but just a heads-up…
I accept Pay Pal, or checks – comments to this are screened so you can leave me your email (for contact purposes)and your mailing address, and if you require my own mailing address for check purposes I will respond to that with the address in question.
Happy reading, as always!