Neil Gaiman: “Make good art”

This has been making its way around the internet the last several days. But I thought I’d post it here, just in case some of you haven’t seen it. It’s Neil Gaiman’s commencement address to the class of 2012 at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia on May 17th. It’s funny, and inspiring, and if you are any kind of artist, not only a writer, this is an absolute must watch. Enjoy.

The Mashup

It’s Monday! Time for publishing news…

For us social media folks, Livia Blackburne says that blogging is a waste of time. (Frankly, sometimes I wonder myself if I’m just spinning my wheels here). Agree or disagree?

If you tend to disagree, Jane Friedman has some ideas on how to build diversity into your online presence. This was one of those rare posts that actually had new information on this oft-written-about topic. Thank goodness for fresh ideas!

And while you’re on the big bad InterWeb, be careful about how you behave. This social media thing can wreak havoc on your career. That’s from fellow WordPress blog, Whispered Writings.

Back in the writing world, there’s the very awesome Terrible Minds who wants writers to be M…rf…ing Rock Stars. Hell yeah! I’m all for it. Sadly, I’m too polite. Do you want to try? I’ll be your groupie.

There are a bunch of essential Ted talks, and some other clips about why failure isn’t fatal and how it can be rather helpful, in fact. Each of these clips and interviews are extremely instructional, and the last one is J.K. Rowling’s now famous commencement speech. Which is worth the 20 minutes every time. If you don’t click through to anything else this week, this is the one to check out.

If you’re stuck coming up with a book title, or you think what you’ve come up with is immensely stupid, fear not. The folks over at Huffington Post have rounded up the 15 most ridiculous book titles for you. And they really, really are. I think you’re safe.

If you’re try to create a book trailer and want to see what a good one looks like, look no further. I have seen some crappy ones recently, so thank goodness for this lady. Whew. If you’re looking for one that’s for kids, then here you go. Of course, you’d need some animation  skills if you were planning to do something like this on your own.

Neil Gaiman gives you the best and simplest writing advice around. We all probably know all of these, but it’s nice to hear from a master, isn’t it?

And what should a non-fiction query letter look like? This.

If you’re still in the revision process, this kid lit revisions class might be for you. I’ve worked with these folks before, and I love them.

For you indie  writers, there’s an award  for you! Finally! Let’s please separate the wheat from the chaff. I’m really excited about this one.

And once you’re ready to upload your masterpiece, think twice about that 99c price point, will you? Though now that you’re offering that ebook, you can also offer to sign it for your fans who buy it on the Kindle.

And finally, after that ebook love, here’s another article about what ereaders can’t download. I guess the whole real book v. ebook thing isn’t going to go away after all.

Before you  run off, here’s a little fun for ya for the week… and yes, I did see Cowboys vs. Aliens this weekend, and thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Happy  Monday everyone! Have a great week.

Monday Mashup

Happy Monday, everyone! I actually had so many things to share they had to be whittled down a bit. Yikes.

If you’re writing YA/MG, author and agent Mandy Hubbard has discovered some trends you might want to know about. If you’re writing a picture book in the sweet “I love Mommy” spectrum, you’ll have a tough time selling it. What consumers want is something like GO THE F**K TO SLEEP. Already in Amazon’s top 10 before it’s even published.

If you’re writing for older YA, find out how much sex is too much. YA Fantasy Guide says, “Here are the big questions: What is the moral responsibility of the writer? Should we be politically correct, rely on our own religious beliefs, or are we to stay current? ”

But how long should your book be? Literaticat has the answer. “I am on the record as saying I don’t really care about word counts unless they are so off-the wall out of bounds that it is absurd. And it is true. But there are generally accepted norms for this sort of thing that you should be aware of. ”

Bucking trends, publisher Candlemark & Gleam said in a Twitter post this week that they’re looking for alternate history stories.

Writing is hard. Rejection’s even harder. So here’s a pick-me-up from author Salima Alikhan, “Every writer I know has an uncommon tenacity and the ability to simultaneously feel the horrid blows of rejection, all while putting on the blinders that allow us to barrel forward, slogging through self-doubt (and occasionally the doubt of our families, acquaintances and coworkers.)”

Still searching for an agent? This is how many queries you’ll have to send before you find one. Kudos to whomever sent out 361! That’s stamina.

But if you haven’t heard back on your query, here’s how to “nudge” an agent. The sort answer: never. The slightly less-short answer: it depends.

If you have a book deal and can’t make head nor tail of your contract, look here. Watch out for inflation says The Passive Voice blog, “For any sort of minimum dollar payments, however, particularly over a long period of time (the life of a copyright, for example), what was a meaningful sum when the contract was signed could be pocket change when it is paid many years later.”

Still thinking about self-publishing? The numbers are in your favor, but don’t count out traditional books yet. According to Publisher’s Weekly, “Despite the belief in many quarters that the growth of e-books will mean the death of the printed book, the number of books produced by traditional publishers rose 5% in 2010, to a projected 316,480, according to preliminary figures released Wednesday morning from R. R. Bowker.”

And over at Amazon, ebooks out-sold tree books last month. “Since April 1, for every 100 print books has sold, it has sold 105 Kindle books.”

Before you upload your ebook to Amazon, beware of pirates. According to The Telegraph “older” women tend to pirate ebooks. Didn’t know being over 35 qualified me as “older.” Ouch.

And think being published is simple? Author George R.R. Martin (of A GAME OF THRONES) found out what happens when you promise to write something, but don’t. The fans got um, rabid. “An entire community of apostates—a shadow fandom—is now devoted to taunting Martin, his associates, and readers who insist that he has been hard at work on the series and has the right to take as much time as he needs. Even [Neil] Gaiman got dragged into the feud when he responded, on his own blog, to an inquiry about Martin’s tardiness by issuing this reproof: “George R. R. Martin is not your bitch.””

If you like book blogs, this is a list of the best ones.

And finally, Two Angry Teachers and a Microphone rap about standardized testing. Hot.

Monday Mashup

I’m starting this new thing: the Monday Mash-up, where you can find all the articles I came across during the previous week that I thought were interesting. Think of it as one-stop shopping, because you’re busy. Lord knows I am. Here we go.

Tim Wynne-Jones talks to us writers about the importance of accepting our own genius. It’s filled with little nuggets of wisdom you may want to keep in your pocket such as: “We must allow that our inner genius knows more than we do.”

For newbie writers, author and agent Mandy Hubbard breaks down how much you might make. Because you want to know and also because when you do become a published author… “The first thing anyone wants to know is: How much does a person make being an author?  If you have ever sold a book, you know that perfectly nice strangers will ask you this as if it’s subject to public disclosure, or its totally different than you turning around and saying, “and how much did you make last year?” To which, of course, they’d look disgusted.”

For the already-published, new author Roni Lauren talks about how to sell your next book before it’s written. Hint: you have to sell at least one book first. Although since Lauren’s first book isn’t out until next year, she’s also kind of telling you how to sell the first one too. Smart lady.

If you’re even past that, you might be interested in creating an author video. Media Bistro has all the info you need to know to make it a good one.

But the most interesting (and head-scratching) thing from last week had to be Neil Gaiman’s spat with Minnesota politician Matt Dean, who resorted to name-calling because he was mad about Gaiman’s speaking fees. It did not go well for him. In addition to looking like a fool, his mother (rightly) made him apologize. To which Gaiman responded, “At this point, I’m just glad his mother (of whom, I must say, I am now a fan) didn’t bring him round to my house with a hand on his collar and make him apologise in front of my whole family, while clearing her throat and giving him meaningful glances the whole time.” Though if you want a quick and fast blow-by-blow, you’d better head here.

Also, if you haven’t already, head over to THE KING WHISPERERS blog tour page to enter to win a copy of the book. You’ll have to put in the code word VISIT. Also, please vote for my blog, Knitting with Pencils for the traffic breaker award at the bottom of the page. Thanks!

[Images: Money image from:

Gaiman/Dean image from:]

Neil Gaiman is a biography writer’s dream

Yesterday I was bemoaning the fact that writing bios of children’s writers can be pretty dull because children’s writers are either really careful not to do terribly odd things in public on account of they write for impressionable children, OR they’re just really nice people by nature who wouldn’t dream of being totally weird and doing provacative things in view of the Wide World who, especially these days, loves to digitally record everything, and then I took a break to look at the Golden Globes wrap-up by the GoFugYourself girls and saw some pictures of Neil Gaiman on the red carpet with Amanda Palmer (which I can’t link to because young  people read this blog), and MAN ALIVE do I hope someone asks me to write a bio on HIM!