This week in writing… headache edition

Who has aspirin?

This has been an emotional week for me. Lots of things going on. So let’s not focus on me. Let’s focus on poor, needy J.K. Rowling and how bad her adult book is. Review from The Telegraph and the New York Times. If she’s upset, she can weep into her piles of money, more of which she will get from this book and it’s 1 million pre-orders. A friend was kind and said that maybe she just needed to get that out of her system, in the way that female child performers often feel the need to go topless before they can settle into a grownup career. Let’s hope.

Earlier this week there was some discussion over the merits of Strunk & White (see the comments section). There’s the “they’re idiots who don’t follow their own rules” camp. And there’s the “they’re geniuses who flout their own rules in a masterful show of skill” camp. Who’s right? It might be easier to decide on the President. You’d better figure it out soon because one writer says that good grammar makes you smarter. Ooookaaay.

 

If you’re a children’s book illustrator, a) I adore you, and b) here are the guidelines for the Tomie dePaola Illustration award.

As if authors don’t have enough to worry about in regard to finding a readership, there’s now the fractured book-finding behavior of readers. Because there are so many ways to get access to books now, there are many, many more ways that authors have to consider to market to their customers. Lord. Remember when you could just write and then send the thing off in brown paper and twine? Yeah. Me either.

What could help books be discovered more easily? I know! Pop-up bookstores. Yes, seriously.

Oh, and know what else? Releasing books in two versions: for adults, and for kids, at the same time. (Actually, I kind of like that.)

One of the things fracturing bookbuyers are ereaders, and this week, B&N came out with new Nooks in HD, proving Amazon doesn’t corner the market on jack. This means, of course, there will be constant one-upmanship between the two booksellers, and anyone else out there with an ereader. But are they going to survive with the new tablets coming out…

You know, like the Surface machines! I’ve been waiting since the beginning of the summer when my beloved Zooey bit it. But in the meantime, HP has come out with the Envy x2, and I gotta tell you, I think I like it better. When do they all come out? Not fast enough for me.

I know I haven’t done “this week in writing” for a while, but I hear (mostly from Deborah Batterman) that you writer types like fast and dirty publishing news. So I’m going to try to keep it up. Cheers dudes!

This week in writing… poetry & letters edition

It’s National Poetry Month! Spring is in the air, and everyone’s inspired. I wish I could put a poem here, but I suck at that, so let’s just dig in…

Jane Yolen has tips on writing poetry over at Katie Davis’ blog.

On April 21st, the Postal Service will honor 20th century poets with their own stamps!

The 2012 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award winner and honoree has been announced.

Maybe you’re just looking for the best prose out there… Bank Street has you covered with the best books of 2012 from infant to YA.

Over in the UK, the Roald Dahl museum has now opened up an exhibit that includes his writing hut. Man, I want one of those!

Have you seen this letter from Kurt Vonnegut to the head of a school board who ordered his books to be burned in the school furnace?

In news of nicer letters, there’s this book of letters C.S. Lewis wrote to children.

There are a couple of new ventures to report. The people behind One Story have now launched a new magazine, One Teen Story for older readers. They are now accepting short stories for their first year of publication. Also, author Marissa Moss is launching her own publishing company, Creston Books.

Dahl in his Writing Hut

Just as the DOJ, Apple and the big 6 start making decisions about their suit, Amazon cuts ebook prices. This will further separate them from the pack, and put them firmly ahead of their competition. I wonder what Barnes & Noble’s response will be, if any. (Oh wait. They’ve updated their Simple Touch with a GlowLight. OK, that’s a handy feature, but is that enough?) Meanwhile, in the Department of Justice suit, three are settling while three more are standing up to fight, saying that there was no collusion on their part to set the prices of ebooks. And on the other end of the spectrum, the ebook version of J.K. Rowling’s new adult novel will be priced at about $20. What the muggle?

With all the fur and feathers flying, some publishers are trying to squeeze out Amazon by not signing contracts with them. (How do we feel about this, authors?)

If you think that ebook pricing doesn’t affect you because you’re only a reader, you’re mistaken.  A consumer advocate group has calculated that the pricing fix will actually cost each of us about $200 more this year. I know what you’re thinking. You’re just going to get your ebooks from the library. Well hold that thought. Libraries and publishers are still fighting. In fact a group of 25 libraries in Connecticut recently voted to boycott Random House.

Bah humbug, you say? Who cares about ereaders and ebooks you say? Well, it seems that people who use electronic devices to read, read more than those who only read on print. I bet the divide will keep growing.

[Roald Dahl image from BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/walesarts/2011/09/roald_dahl_day_events.html]

The Mashup

Let’s get right to it, shall we?

Turns out that people who like sci fi also like to do their reading on ereaders. It must be all that cutting-edge imaginary tech.

Speaking of cutting-edge tech, where’s my Google+ invite?

Author Jack Flacco separates the Superman writers from the Batman writers and says that it’s a good thing there’s diversity out there.

You know how much I love libraries, right? But what happens if you’re homeless and you can’t get a library card because you don’t have an address? There’s a librarian in Portland who thought of that. Supremely cool.

In a writing workshop? Which feedback should you take? via Grub Street Daily.

Done with the workshops? Are you ready with your agent pitch? Are you ready for what might happen after that pitch? Are you really? Agent Janet  Reid wants you to be sure. Or she wants you to NOT waste her time.

Any of you writers out there making money? Here’s how to manage it. Then send me some.

Know how much I hate bad grammar? I’m not the only one. What’s the difference between fewer and less? By the way, I’ve decided to unfollow anyone who doesn’t know the difference between your and you’re. Consider yourself warned.

Who are you as a writer? Yes, we’re going to talk about author branding. Because it’s really important, and according to Justine Musk, you’re a creative badass. Love it.

Speaking of creative badass, here are some books as works of art. LOVE this.

And finally, how do those award people decide on the winners of literary awards? Horn Book discusses the secrecy behind the Newbery/Caldecott awards. No big reveals, but it’s a peek into the process. Me likey.

Thursday Mashup

Yeah. I know. Let’s just get to it, shall we?

The biggest publishing shocker for me last week was the news that Umberto Eco isn’t well read, and says that you don’t need to be either. Who’s worried about book sales? Not him, apparently.

And I bet his writing space doesn’t look like this either. (That’s super cute, right? via @MisaBuckley.)

But if you do like reading, and you want to do it on an eReader, the big news was Kobo’s new eInk display with touch screen and not to be outdone, Barnes & Noble released yet another eReader called the Simple Touch Reader that has the same capabilities. While Kindle is still maintaining their lead in the eReader industry, I don’t think they’ll have that hold for long, and the news is that they’re now looking to make Android devices to keep up  with everyone else. Let me just say now that whoever makes a color eInk display is going to CLEAN UP.

In more Barnes & Noble news, they’ve now moved into craft sales, which is good news for this blog, as I can now get my knitting supplies and my books in one cart. Yay!

And in more eReader news, at least one university is opting for eReader texts instead of all those bulky textbooks, which is the best application for this technology.

If you want to know how much an eBook should cost, you gotta go to Mike, who breaks down the economics and the dilemma on both sides: “obviously many readers feel that the prices [of eBooks] are outrageous and unjustified. How do greedy authors sleep at night? To be honest, having unhappy readers causes us some sleepless nights. Worrying about paying the rent if ebooks were priced as low as readers want causes even more sleepless nights. So, the gentle reader may rest assured that authors are, indeed, losing sleep!”

If you’re wondering how to create a writing platform, YA Fantasy Guide has the answers because as they say, “You need to get yourself out there in your field before you submit your work. Great writing, original stories, and platforms are sure fire ways to create a successful writing career for yourself. ”

And speaking of careers, two full-time writers reveal how they do it. And yes, those fantasy advances are hysterical. Though if you can’t decide if you should jump in, you need to ask yourself if writing is a calling or a career. Your mindset may have more to do with your success or failure than you think. Author Edward Nawotka says that for writers, “The sense that writing as a calling can sustain them, but thinking of writing as a career can armor you against the vagaries of this unpredictable business.”

Finally in the writing as profession category is this Writer Unboxed post about what you can expect as a professional writer and how to separate the fantasy from the reality. “How does it look when you project the image of your professional writer self into the future five years, or ten?”

For those of us who are well on our way to super stardom, you need to beware of the contract. J.D. Sawyer ( who is not a lawyer) wants you to think about your rights over the long term on dodgy clauses. “It’s situations like this that underline the unequal bargaining muscle that publishers (of all media) bring to the table. But there is something you can do to equalize that balance: When faced with a clause like this, say “no.” Period.”

There’s a new “boyz” magazine in town. And that’s great. Unless mis-spellings bother you.

See if you live in one of the most well-read cities in the U.S. (I don’t.)

Books are still being banned. Seriously? Yes. Sadly.

What some of us think of self-published books, and how to overcome that prejudice.

Last week was also BEA, so there’s some news on that front. Like Google abandoning their ebook store. Why? Read here. And the American Booksellers Association on the fate of indie bookstores: “There is nothing like browsing in a physical bookstore. That is something you can’t replace.”

And finally, we lose the divine Ms O. and all her lovely influence on the world of books, and also, libraries. Bye Oprah!