Sep11
Taking a Rest
The Publishing Spot is taking an indefinite vacation.

I just started blogging for the good folks at GalleyCat. And, as always, my personal site is loaded with content. Stop by both places and say hello!

It's been three years of non-stop content, and I just want to say thank you to everyone who kept this little writing community going. Until we return, the archives and comments are still open, so feel free to explore. Here is some of my favorite content from the past three years...

Up top, you have my video coverage of the 2007 National Book Awards. We'll be back there again this year.

Check out how Janice Erlbaum literally walked us through her memoir.

Screenwriter Allen Rucker taught us about writing for television, movies and memoirs.

Novelist DeLauné Michel showed us how acting can help your writing.

Richard Grayson explained how he used Print-On-Demand Publishing to save his novels.

Sam Douglas gave us Real Advice from a Real Fiction Editor.

Robert Boynton taught us How To Survive as a Freelance Writer.

Then watch Best Literary Friends Forever, a video featuring our special journalist guests, Kate Torgovnick and Joie Jager-Hyman.

Then there's journalist Jeff Gordinier explaining how he built his magazine writing career and wrote a book.

Don't forget when Jeffrey Yamaguchi Explained How To Write Your Book At The Dayjob.

And remember how Felicia Sullivan talked about her memoir.

Or when Novelist Ed Park showed us how to write office satire and really, really long sentences.

And Susan Henderson taught us How To Beat Writer's Block.

Then Jeff Gordinier Showed You How To Promote Your Book.

And finally, Tony D'Souza taught us The Fine Art of the Action Scene

 

Sep 8
What Do Young, Anxious Writers Need To Know Right Now?

alana%20taylor.jpgWhat would you tell this young, anxious student about the future of journalism?

Over at MediaShift, a New York University undergraduate journalism student Alana Taylor (studying, coincidentally, where I teach) wrote a critical essay about the online aspects of her education. Her essay was custom-built to stir up controversy (and boy, did it ever), but we should all check it out:

"[The professor] informs us that people actually get paid to blog. That they make a living off of this. For me this was very much a “duh” moment and I thought that it would be for the rest of the students as well. They should be fully aware at this point that blogging has become a very serious form of journalism. Furthermore, they should be aware that it is the one journalistic venture that requires little or no ladder-climbing."

Honestly, .0000001 percent of all writers actually support themselves completely online, and I am frank with all my students about that fact--and I give them suggestions about ways to cobble together more online experience with web writing, citizen journalism tools, and webby-videos.

Young writers are seeking answers to questions that won't be answered for another 50 years until after all the dust from digital publishing has settled. In the meantime, what's your advice to young writers? Chime in, and I'll collect the answers in a post this week.

 

Sep 5
Surface Tension: Weekend Poems

The Trouble with PoetryAs you sneak away for the weekend, take some poetry with you.

The Bluestocking book blog has a great post about poet Billy Collins and his poem-a-day project for high school students. There's an inspiring collection of poems on that website, they can turn your writing upside down if you read them carefully.

Don't believe me? Try it yourself. Here's a line from Herd Of Buffalo Crossing The Missouri On Ice by poet William Matthews. These images will boggle your brain:

“If dragonflies can mate atop the surface tension / of water, surely these tons of bison can mince / across the river”

 

Sep 4
Publishing Spotted: Spam and Drink

Out of the millions of book blogs and writing-help websites, you have to dig pretty deep to find practical advice. Luckily, Joshua Henkin, author of Matrimony, is once again guest blogging on Mark Sarvas's site. Tune in every day for his straight-ahead thoughts:

"I'm always reminding my students to vary their cadences, that too much repetition is numbing. They'll give me a sentence with three great images, but what they don't understand is that those images are competing with each other and are therefore lessening the effect of the sentence: too much meat in the can and you get Spam"

And, if the hunt for meat and Spam is driving you mad, you might need a drink. If you need help with that, the New York Post has a great article about writers and booze, complete with some tasty cocktail recipes.

Publishing Spot alum Janice Erlbaum (you can find out more about her memoir in that video) weighed in with this tasty beverage:

"The key lime martini; it's vanilla vodka with lime juice and a little cream. Some places will even put a graham cracker crust around the rim ... I have a sentimental attachment to it. But I also have a taste-bud attachment. It's girlie, and I like that in a drink. The glass balances so elegantly in one's little fingers. The drink is twee, but writers are twee, so I'm allowed."

 

Sep 3
One Post Blogs Versus Ten Year Blogs

Personal Days: A NovelWhat have you left behind on the Internet? As writers tumble through the world wide webs, we leave behind thousands of old links and long lost stories.

Novelist Ed Park--meet him at The Publishing Spot Library--is exploring one-post blogs. It's haunting to check out these lost sites that began and ended on the same day. Check it out:

"Blogs that only lasted for one post, #1: Time for a Midwestern Culture Shock."

On the other side of the coin, novelist John Scalzi is revisiting ten years of amazing content on his blog. This essay comes from very early in his writing career, a reminder to all fledgling writers about what it takes to succeed. Check it out:

"I try to be honest with myself regarding “working on the novel.” If I’m actually writing, then I’m working on the novel; if I’m not writing, then I’m not working on the novel ... If you want to write a novel, don’t “work” on it — write the thing."

 

Sep 2
Know Thy Reporter

How do you prepare for an interview about your book?

Until five minutes ago, I hadn't pondered the question. But now, I'm convinced that it is one of the most useful questions a newly-published writer can ask themselves.

The excellent Book Publicity Blog answered that question today, in a post chock-ful of journalist interaction wisdom. Check it out at this link.

As a journalist who has interviewed countless writers, I love it when a writer and I understand each other going into the interview. This bit of wisdom from Publicity Hound is priceless:

"If you don’t know the reporter personally, Google their name and see what you find. If the reporter blogs, read the blog!"

 

Aug29
Weekend Reading
 
Conversational Reading spotted that faux-trailer for a soap opera about stuffy academics. Check out the comments section, it's hilarious to see how many people want to see this show for real.  
 
Litkicks notes that Ryan Adams has a novel coming out, it will be published by Akashic Books. If you haven't listened to this great storyteller sing, now is the time to start. I'm looking forward to this book.
 
Finally, for all the aspiring novelists out there, Guide to Literary Agents has ten tips that will clean up your pitch letters. Here's a highlight, some clean, clear advice:
 
"Single-space your query letter, and keep it to one page. Double-space your manuscript and synopsis ... If you lack a good opening for your query letter, just give the facts. A simple yet effective opening line would be, 'I am seeking literary representation for my 75,000-word completed thriller, titled Dead Cat Bounce.'"
 

Continue Reading
Aug28
Dueling Comments: A Novel Novel?

The image “http://www.spectrasonics.net/news/wp-content/uploads/article-csi.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.Do you want to read books with movies built into the story?

Literary blogger Sarah Weinman unpacked a Variety story about how CSI creator Anthony Zuiker just landed an expensive book deal with Dutton, as the article explains, to create "a publishing hybrid that broadens traditional book reading into a multiplatform experience that includes filmed components and an interactive social networking site."

Myself, I'm excited to see what happens when digital book readers, web video, and writers finally collide. While this might not be the project that succeeds, eventually, somebody will figure it out. Weinman's readers were mixed, to say the least.

Crime writer Bill Crider sarcastically noted the lazy beauty of the book deal: "And think of it: seven figures for three books, for which Mr. CSI has only to write 60-page outlines."

Novelist Karen Olson worried about what this novel means for books: "Do we want kids to grow up not able to read a 250 page book without some sort of video stimulation? That's really sad."

One poster added a prediction: "I bet my life that in 12 years, the traditional publishing industry (as we know it) is a ghost - there will be event books, and there will be goofs who self-publish, and everything else will be some techno hybrid."

 

Aug27
Publishing Spotted: Fake Your Life

Unhappy with your life? Write a new one!

Over at the Poet's Market blog, they have a fake author biography contest running until September. Check it out: "since we just recently released the 2009 Poet's Market, I can offer that up as a prize to whoever writes the best fake bio. You can make your bio funny, outrageous, horrible, seriously intense, etc. Just keep it under 100 words (hey, most publications cap it off at 50 words)." (via Practicing Writer)

How much should a great book cost? Edward Champion has some good reporting on the subject, along with breaking news about an upcoming William T. Vollmann book.

Look out for Justin Theroux. Besides starring in two of my favorite mind-bending films -- Inland Empire and Mulholland Drive -- he's also a budding scriptwriter. The Script Reader blog has a breathless feature about the man who could singlehandedly kill the skinny-neurotic-loser-screenwriter stereotype. Dig it:

"If you haven’t been following actor Justin Theroux’s bourgeoning screenwriting career, he co-wrote Tropic Thunder and recently signed up to write the Iron Man sequel. While this is good news for Justin Theroux, I think it’s even better news for screenwriters ... I smell an opportunity…to re-brand." (image via WireImage.com)

Aug26
The Publishing Spot Library: Novelist Christa Faust

Snakes on a PlaneEver wonder who writes all those novels based on movies or television shows?

At the L.A. Times this weekend, Tod Goldberg wrote an ode to the fine art of tie-in writing. Check it out: "My brother had long regaled me with the sales numbers he'd racked up with his "Diagnosis Murder" and "Monk" books -- each selling roughly what all of my books have sold, combined -- and how his tie-ins had dragged along his other books too." (Link via Ron Hogan)

The Publishing Spot has been on this beat for years. Novelist Christa Faust stopped by awhile back, and taught us How To Find Work Writing Tie-Ins.

Follow these links for more tie-in action. After that, Faust also explained how she Novel-ized Snakes on a Plane

and How To Sell Wild and Crazy Novel

and How Blogging Helps Novelists

and finally, some Hardboiled Links from a Hardboiled Writer.

 

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