Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

A Room with A View

Mine. Here’s what I’m seeing as I look out my window right now. No internet access, but I think it’s a fair trade.


My view.

It’s been windy, but I’ve picked up some color. I’m noodling with a plot, and it’s coming along. But mostly, there’s the view…and that’s just fine.

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

Cover Story!

I received the final artwork for my novella, Blood Soup today! It will be available September 7, 2009 – just in time to start thinking about the Halloween rush. (I think that’s why the cover is a tad more “horror” looking than “dark fantasy”… Still, isn’t it fabulous?


Cover Art for Novella: Blood Soup

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

Warning: Don’t Let Your Kids Read This Book

A friend sent me a link from Jay Nordlinger.

One of Nordlinger’s readers wrote to say that he recently picked up a 2008 reprint of Chesterton’s Everlasting Man  (Wilder Publications) and was surprised to find a disclaimer by the publisher on the title page. I’ve snagged the cover page so you can read it, starting with, “This book…”


Title Page from Chesterton's The Everlasting Man

In case you have images turned off, here’s the quote:

“This book is a product of its time and does not reflect the same values as it would if it were written today. Parents might wish to discuss with their children how views on race have changed before allowing them to read this classic work.”

The reader says:

“As my father-in-law would say, this is ludicrous! It is wrong in so many ways I don’t know where to begin. In the first place, it is an act of cowardice on the part of the publishers. If they were ashamed of the content, why did they print it in the first place? It is also an act of arrogance: How dare they presume to know how Chesterton would have written his book today? Or to apologize on his behalf? Somehow, I find it difficult to imagine that Chesterton would have been cowed by the strictures of political correctness. . . .

If the publisher had included a preface that properly discussed the issues they fear may be of concern, that would be one thing. But to print a cigarette-packet-style warning so that parents can prepare their children for the “horrors” ahead is unseemly.”

Says Nordlinger, “Very modern. Very dumb.”

I agree. On my reading list are several classic novels, a few of which might require this type of “warning” label if such a practice becomes de rigueur.  But I can’t help but feel a tad bit insulted. Do people really need to explain the content of a book clearly written in a different age? You tell me.

Monday, July 6th, 2009

The Hounds of the Baskervilles: Arthur Conan Doyle

This is a review for my Project 100: Fill in the Gaps project.

The plot (from Wikipedia).

The rich landowner Sir Charles Baskerville is found dead in the park of his manor, surrounded by the moorland of Dartmoor, in the county of Devon. He appears to have died from heart attack, but the victim’s close friend, Dr Mortimer, is convinced that the death was due to a supernatural creature, which haunts the moor in the shape of an enormous hound with blazing eyes and jaws. Fearing for the safety of Baskerville’s heir, his nephew Sir Henry, coming to London from Canada, Dr Mortimer appeals for help from Sherlock Holmes.

The Hound of the Baskervilles is the first thing I’ve read by Arthur Conan Doyle. I expected not to like this (very short) book for at least two reasons: 1) I usually don’t like to read mysteries, and 2) the antiquated style of writing was certain to turn me off. However, I enjoyed the tale so much that I believe I’ll be adding Arthur Conan Doyle to my reading list.

It’s funny that I don’t like to read mysteries. As a pre-teen I devoured those one-minute mystery books for kids…couldn’t get enough of them. Adult mysteries have usually felt contrived, and I lack the patience to figure out what is a clue and what is not. The Hound didn’t feel contrived at all to me…and when clues were slung in my direction, I knew it (even if I couldn’t figure out what they meant at the time). But knowing what they were increased my enjoyment of the story, because I could noodle over their significance at odd times – like when cooking dinner.

The first page or two of writing caused me some consternation. Doyle employs several, “As you know, Bobs,” (See the Turkey City Lexicon) in the opening dialogue which is openly contrived in order to deliver some necessary information. Beyond that, the writing smooths out, and although a bit wordy (IMHO), it includes many elegant passages.

Interestingly, the book begins in Dr. Watson’s point of view, and then changes to a letter format when Watson and Holmes split up (Watson to Devonshire, Holmes to remain in London). The letters are from Watson to Holmes – so still in his POV. There is also an instance of an “excerpt from Watson’s Diary” used to tell the tale. The style reverts back to Watson’s POV once Holmes joins him in Devonshire.

All of the loose ends are tidied up in meticulous detail via conversation of Watson and Holmes in the last chapter entitled, “A Retrospection.” The clues are explained and a tremendous amount of the back story is filled in by Holmes. For me, this was the hardest part of the book to read: it starts out with a long-winded description by Watson of why so much time has passed since the end of the case and now, when he and Holmes were discussing it. Per Watson, Holmes has solved two other cases in between. Why this is important – other than to show a passage of time (which I can’t figure out the importance of) – I don’t know. Further, Holmes’s dialogue is bloated in order to squeeze in as much detail as possible. I’m not sure this would work in a modern-day mystery.

Nonetheless, I found it to be an enjoyable read overall.

Recommended.

Monday, July 6th, 2009

Preditors & EditorsTM Needs Your Help

Preditors and Editors LogoFor 12 years, the people behind Preditors and EditorsTM have made the world a little safer for authors, composers, game designers and artists by pointing out scam publishers, agents, and others who seek to make money off of them.

The Preditors & EditorsTM Web site is jammed with information about “not recommended” agents and publishing houses and warnings of other kinds.

It’s also replete with information on agents and attorneys, book publishers and stores, conventions and workshops and all kinds of resources for creative types.

And it’s all FREE.

Often, when an agent or publishing house is reported by P&E as “not recommended” or outright scamming, the offender slinks away in the middle of the night. Not this time, and P&E is being sued.

I’ve donated. Buddy, if you can spare some change, please donateTM to the cause. And if you haven’t looked over the resources at the Preditors & EditorsTM Web site, you really should.

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

Shiny Stuff – As Promised

I finally received it! (Amazing how something can come clear across the United States to me in only a few days!) Here’s a scan of my Honorable Mention certificate from Writers of the Future for my story, Lucky Clover.

The scan really does it no justice. It’s much shinier than this in real life.


Writers of the Future Honorable Mention Certificate

Monday, June 29th, 2009

Alice Hoffman: What Were You Thinking?

Have you seen the Alice Hoffman kerfluffle yet?

In a nutshell: Roberta Silman at the Boston Globe reviewed her latest book, The Story Sisters, and gave it what’s being called “a lukewarm review.” (Here is the Boston Globe Link – it opens in new window).

It’s not a glowing review, but I wouldn’t call it lukewarm, either. Silman has done her homework, and she’s obviously familiar with (and has even enjoyed) Hoffman’s earlier works. But, Silman does say that the book, “…lacks the spark of the earlier work. Its vision, characters, and even the prose seem tired. Too much of it is told rather than shown…”

Silman does have nice things to say about the book, too: “Admittedly, there are some wonderful passages as the book winds to a close – about the heirloom tomatoes Annie grew in her garden and how Claire learns to design jewelry.”

Hoffman responded by tweeting Silman’s phone number  and email address  and told her readers to “Tell her what u think of snarky critics.”

Hoffman also disparaged Silman: “Roberta Silman in the Boston Globe is a moron. How do some people get to review books?”

And then Hoffman put down the Boston Globe: “No wonder there is no book section in the Globe anymore – they don’t care about their readers, why should we care about them”

Ed Champion says, “…I think it’s safe to say that Alice Hoffman is certainly the most immature writer of her generation. One expects such behavior from a whiny brat in a boarding school who didn’t get the latest iPhone, not a 57-year-old bestselling author who won’t have to beg for a writing assignment or a hot meal anytime soon.”

The Cajun Boy, writer of the Gawker story on Ms. Hoffman’s actions, says, Ms. Hoffman, “went insane on Twitter” and “acti[ed] like a petulant child.”

Wow, wow, wow! Ms. Hoffman’s been publishing since 1977. You’d have thought she would have developed some kind of thick skin by now.

As @davidgibbons tweeted, “[to survive web2 u have to check ur ego at the door].” How true that is!

I certainly won’t be picking up the latest Hoffman novel, will you?

~~~~~~~~~~

Update: Ms. Hoffman has deleted both of her Twitter accounts as of this morning. Was she feeling the pressure?

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

Cover Story

I would have posted this last night when I received it, but it just got to be too late. Check out this awesome cover for the Triangulation: Dark Glass  anthology, coming out July 26, in which my story On the Path,  appears.


Cover of the Triangulation: Dark Class Anthology

Saturday, June 27th, 2009

Extremes

On one end of the spectrum…

I finished the edits today for Blood Soup….hundreds of edits and comments and commas (mostly commas)…most of which I agreed to; and some, I’m not adverse to changing…but I’d like more info from the editor. I just didn’t understand the changes she made.

This means I’ll probably have “round 2” edits to work through. No worries.

This editor has caught a number of issues that both my beta reader, my critique group, and a different editor all missed. She’s good. And everything she’s pointing out is going to make the piece tighter and stronger.

At the other end of the spectrum…

I received an email late tonight from the editor of the Triangulation: Dark Glass  anthology in which my story, On the Path,  is being published July 26. This was my editing document: an email. His changes: two sentences. That’s it.

And he complemented me for doing all the hard work already. Pete Butler, you’re one classy editor.

Friday, June 26th, 2009

Yeah, This About Sums It Up For Me

Comma Abuse

This comic brought to you by Debbie Ridpath Ohi, at Inkygirl.com.