Sunday, July 31, 2011
Saturday, July 30, 2011
I'm just not their consumer, you see. I don't really listen to music at all, for instance. A child of the 80s, I spent a great many hours plopped down in front of various tvs watching MTV when it was all videos, and that was how I got my music. I never got into buying albums, or going to see concerts, and as a result, when there quit being stations that showed music all the time, I just quit listening to it. So the iPod, by the time it came about, was too late to get me involved in Apple. And I don't care too much about the latest tech gadgets, which means that both the iPhone (which I do find delightful) and the iPad (again, kind of amazing) are both wasted on me. At some point I'm sure I'll end with something like them, some sort of device that fills that function, but it will probably be in five or ten years when everyone else has moved on to something new and exciting several generations more advanced. I didn't even get a cell phone until 2006, and that with much protesting, and only because the local phone company pretty much forced me to do it by not allowing me to suspend my land line for five months while I was abroad. Had they done so, I don't know when I would have gotten a cell. Much later even than that, I'm sure. My friend Damon didn't get one until a year ago, and I would have probably been there right with him. So much for me and an iPad or iPhone. Not happening.
But Apple fascinates me. The branding is so very strong. I cannot comprehend how it came to be that such fervor has been built around it, but then, I can't believe that religion and political parties manage it either. Still, they do it somehow, and Apple does it very well. And at long last they've broken out of their narrow share that they, for decades, enjoyed: the Mac cultists, who constantly tried to get more than 5% of the world to agree that their way was better, and always failed. With all the i products, Apple finally went mainstream, and they are making the most of it. They're very impressive; a way of life, and a way to run your life, more than a tech company.
Not for me, though. I will watch from the outside, thank you very much. Until sometime when they crack my defenses, and then I'll be inside with everyone else. But for now, I reserve the right to be curmudgeonly.
Friday, July 29, 2011
Thursday, July 28, 2011
|I do not think it will end this well for the Kobo...|
His 1850 pamphlet "Jewishness in Music" attacked many of his Jewish contemporaries in music, such as Felix Mendelssohn. He claimed Jews had no place in German music or culture, and even that most Germans were secretly repelled by them. Published first under a pseudonym and later openly, this pamphlet was joined in 1869 by a reprinted version - leading to protests at the opening of Der Meistersinger. Oddly, his private journals recount several strong friendships with Jews, including one he wrote of as "one of the most beautiful friendships of my life" (Samuel Lehrs of Paris).
What is undeniable is that his music and public anti-Semitism were both appropriated by Adolf Hitler. His operas in particular became the unofficial anthems of Nazi propaganda. There is even evidence that Wagner's music was used by the Nazis in an attempt to 're-educate' prisoners at the Dachau concentration camp.
And here the story takes a turn. Many survivors of the Nazi concentration camps of WWII emigrated to Israel, and since the formation of that nation, the operas of Wagner have never been performed there. The protests of Holocaust survivors were considered of greater gravity than the timelessness of Wagner's music - especially given his personal anti-Semitism.
But that changed on July 26, 2011. In a German town known as Bayreuth - home of the annual Wagner Festival - the Israel Chamber Orchestra performed the Siegfried Idyll by Wagner before an audience including Katharina Wagner, the composer's great-granddaughter and co-director of the festival. Conductor Roberto Paternostro said the orchestra's decision was unanimous, and that he hopes to carefully and respectfully present the music of Wagner to a new generation, unburdened by the weight of a deeply personal and even more deeply traumatic past.
Can music heal? When music itself is the reminder of painful experiences, perhaps that is too much to ask. But art transcends the artist, and can and should be judged on its own merits. Perhaps, in this case, it is not the music that heals the listener, but the listener who will heal the music.
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
From this post by Molly Shalgos on The Hairpin, a site I'd never heard of, but now, like On The Road after this horrible yet delightful blurb/takedown, want to read.
It sounds like a John Grisham novel or a box office thriller, but this really happened.
She was a self-educated financial analyst and restaurant owner. He was a police detective. Or so he told her. They began seeing each other, and he moved in with her. Then the lies began to surface. He never seemed to work. He just laid around and watched CSI and cop dramas.
Then he raped her.
When she pressed charges, he got out on bail and began an elaborate frame. Using information from her personal life – her photograph, the license plates off her car, cell phone numbers, even names and addresses of her relatives – he influenced people he knew to file police reports claiming to be the victims of armed robbery by a woman matching her description. “Witnesses” were coached with descriptions of her car and license plate, and were shown her picture so they could pick her out of police line-ups.
The real genius? These “crimes” were spread out over time and geographical areas, creating a damning pattern of false evidence. Not even alibis like cell phone calls she made on the dates of the “crimes” from locations distant from the alleged crimes were believed. She was arrested and held on a million dollars bail, all while her former boyfriend remained free on bail. Despite her insistence he had framed her, police were unconvinced. They had evidence in abundance, from such diverse sources they could not imagine it was anything but genuine. Most damning of all, she had motive: her restaurant was not doing well, financially. Armed robbery to save a struggling business? Probable cause, said police.
The plot was pierced almost by accident. An informant tipped police off to contact between the former boyfriend and one of the “witnesses.” An investigation showed how many phone calls had gone between the two, and when confronted, the “witness” confessed to the plot. Now the ex-boyfriend is in jail without bail. He claims he is the victim of a conspiracy.
And her? She lost her restaurant, her reputation, and seven months of her life behind bars. Worst of all, she lost her faith in the justice system. She has active suits against the police and one of the counties in which her alleged crimes occurred. Maybe, some day, she will have a bestselling novel or major motion picture, too.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
I wrote some books. Grimme and The Burning Times, I call them. And today they are being featured on Kindle Post, a blog dedicated to identifying quality ebooks and bringing them to an audience of interested ebook readers - maybe you! I think that's pretty special, and worth calling some attention to - hard as that is for me.
Thanks for reading,
Monday, July 25, 2011
The rest of the article lays out a few simple rules for reviewing which, I agree, are not often followed to the fullest. Sometimes gloriously, as in the above. Read the whole thing.
First, let me thank my gracious hosts, The Kindling Press, for inviting me over for a wee guest spot on their blog! I’m delighted, to be sure. I am Jenna, an editor, avid book reader and sometime goofball. I thought I’d give a little advice to as to why you might want to consider finding an editor of your very own.
Reason 1) Because your reader doesn’t live in your head.
This is one of the most important lessons I can bring to bear – while you’re happily typing away, spinning a yarn of utmost fascination, you must be able to bring your readers along with you. This means that you must learn to describe your characters, scenes, gadgets and plotlines well enough that your reader will be able to assimilate and imagine the tale along with you. You may know what you’re talking about because it’s crystal-clear in your mind; your reader doesn’t share your insight! I find that authors sometimes unintentionally carry on without setting up a scene or plot twist well, leaving the reader with a big fat question mark and possibly turning them off completely. Authors have their world fully formed in their noggins, so they presume the telling that they’re giving is sufficient. Sometimes, in fact, it’s just not. A good editor will ask for
clarification, offer suggestions for solidifying things, and even cut out overly flowery prose to get to the meat of the matter.
Reason 2) Consistency is key.
When reading a book, it’s very important to me that the little things (like your character’s names, for instance) are absolutely consistent, each and every time. When I first began editing, it was for love of a story I found on iBooks. It was gripping, truly, but the amount of inconsistency, even down to random modifications to the spelling of the main character’s name throughout, drove me bugnuts. I wrote to the author, literally begging to clean up the manuscript to let the story shine as it was meant to – and they took me up on it. Spell check is all well and good, but another eye on your work to ensure consistency of pacing, tone, and minor typographical errors is priceless. That, and the best spelling and grammar checking software usually does not catch the “you’re/ your” “their/they’re/there” or even “its/it’s” variances. I’m certainly not perfect, but the difference is usually evident to me and can be corrected before it’s published.
Reason 3) It’s your baby, indulge it with a quick polish!
Authors, as a whole, are extremely protective of their wordsmithing abilities, and rightfully so. You’re baring somewhat of your soul to the world, a peek into your own psyche, which can be really terrifying. With that in mind, don’t you owe it to yourself to offer the world the best version of that piece of your soul? If you’re afraid to show it to one other person (an editor, perhaps?), how in the world are you going to release it into the wild? The fear of criticism runs deep, but the challenges and modifications any editor will bring to the table are not a personal attack. Ever. They are to help your work shine like it was meant to. Editors can also help to offer insights if you get “stuck” somewhere, if they’re familiar enough with your stories. I see myself as a partner in crime, as it were, not as the big bad wolf with a huge red pen, ready to slash your story to bits. It behooves me to help you make your book as strong as it can be, and if that means questioning things to death or cutting out something you may feel strongly about, I will do it. I want you to succeed; your success can only bolster my own, in the long run.
Reason 4) If you’re very nice to them, they might make you cookies!
And that, dear readers, is it from your friendly neighborhood editrix for today. I again want to thank my gracious hosts, The Kindling Press, for inviting me to guest, and hope to do so again in the future! If you have any pressing questions you’ve always wanted to ask an editor, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sunday, July 24, 2011
Now we're all done. We say we're going forward, and certainly other countries are. But I don't know. I think maybe space is over. We didn't find what we wanted there. We didn't find anything useful or familiar. We found cold and death and fear and expense, and ignored the fact that there was also knowledge and wonder and possibility. I may be wrong; maybe it'll still happen, and we'll get to the stars. But I think we're kind of done, really.
I see a nice article about space books to give a look at in the Washington Post. I would recommend also Mary Roach's delightful Packing for Mars, which I've read only bits of, but all of her books are terribly fun. And any of the great sci-fi epics of ages past, Dune or Ringworld or Consider Phlebas, books that suggest the commonplace wonders of a destiny we may never achieve.
Ad Astra. Hopefully.
Saturday, July 23, 2011
No more. While it still takes the usual amount of blood sweat and tears out of an author to write the book in the first place, the advent of digital distribution means that author can replicate his work a near infinite number of times for a cost approaching nil and disseminate it to an audience of millions. The publishing houses are terrified of this, of course, as it effectively destroys their very reason to exist. They continue to cling to existence, however, because this new model of digital distribution has two major problems of its own.
The first significant problem is that of too much choice. When anyone can publish anything, how do readers find the writers whose books they would enjoy amidst the sea of words? In this respect, publishers continue to have the advantage. They have large marketing departments dedicated to telling us which books we should buy. They have art departments that come up with eye-catching covers. They have distribution deals with bookstores that get their physical artifacts at eye level on a shelf. I suspect, however, that as systems such as the Amazon store and other websites get better at categorizing, reviewing, and organizing the vast number of choices available, connecting readers with writers will get easier. Also, so long as price points stay low, people may be willing to take a chance on an author they've never heard of. What's better, taking a chance with a $.99 book or a $25 hardcover?
That brings me to my second significant problem: money. A digital file can be copied infinitely, distributed practically for free, and there's not a lot that can be done about it once its been released into the wilds of the internet. How will authors get paid? The publishers have the advantage here, too, as they have well-established systems for paying their authors based on books sold. That model, though, it toppling rapidly. When an author can make MUCH more money selling a book for $.99 online than he would make per copy sold by a publisher for $8, the incentive to migrate to e-books becomes significant. An author makes a pittance on a paper book, but can make 90%-100% profit on the same book sold digitally, depending on if he's using an online distributor like the Amazon store. This, of course, relies on the willingness of e-book readers to pay anything at all. There are still some controls in place that encourage payment. The Kindle, for instance, is hardware that uses a proprietary format making it harder to copy a book willy-nilly. If Apple's iTunes store has taught us anything, people are willing to pay for something they could otherwise get for free if it's: 1) convenient, 2) cheap.
So as we enter this brave new world of limitless words, I encourage everyone to swim to their heart's content. You may find some terrible books. You may find many hidden gems by authors who may never have seen the light of day under the previous regime. Hopefully associations of authors such as Kindling Press will crop up to make choices easier in our post-scarcity reading lives.
Friday, July 22, 2011
Then this happens. Turns out the diligent investigative journalist has become enamored of his "innocent" subject. One can only question...um...everything...about his story now. I think there's a movie to be made from this little bit of prison drama.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
- Soliciting submissions for a Pulp Fantasy anthologie
- Editing submissions for a Pulp Fantasy anthologie
- Mental drafting of contributions for a Pulp Fantasy anthologie
- Adapting a new cover for the hardcopy edition of Grimme
- Engaging new contacts and audiences via Social Media (FaceBook, Twitter, G+)
- Looking for likely reviewers, and likely things to review, for this blog
Thanks for reading,
Some of them are:
A cover for the print edition of my book Never, which is turning out quite lovely.
Edits for a novella called Last Days of Atlantis, which is a queer futuristic travelogue. Of sorts.
Edits for a collection of pulp fantasy stories.
Inking a map for the Europas world of my cohort Peter Smalley's Grimme.
So that's what is going on right now. It's not too much, but it's just the most basic of the things I'm working on, discounting long term things and vague nebulous projects.
Really, I was expecting a little more. I mean, we're writers, right? And this is it? Just a little welcome?
Oh, well. What are you going to do?