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Viewing Blog: Slushpile.net, Most Recent at Top
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26. LA Times Obit for Louis D. Rubin


The great Louis D. Rubin passed away recently. Perhaps most well-known for co-founding Algonquin Books, Rubin was also a fine and frequent writer.

The Los Angeles Times has a great overview of Rubin’s life. Check here to read the obit.

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27. National Books Awards Held Tonight


The 2013 National Book Awards will be held tonight in New York City. All the finalists are great, but around here, we’re pulling for George Saunders, who has had a special place in our heart ever since hearing him read “Offloading for Mrs. Schwartz” from CivilWarLand in Bad Decline.

Fiction Finalists
–Rachel Kushner, The Flamethrowers
–Jhumpa Lahiri, The Lowland
–James McBride, The Good Lord Bird
–Thomas Pynchon, Bleeding Edge
–George Saunders, Tenth of December

Nonfiction Finalists
–Jill Lepore, Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin
–Wendy Lower, Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields
–George Packer, The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America
–Alan Taylor, The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832
–Lawrence Wright, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood & the Prison of Belief

Young Adult Literature Finalists
–Kathi Appelt, The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp
–Cynthia Kadohata, The Thing About Luck
–Tom McNeal, Far Far Away
–Meg Rosoff, Picture Me Gone
–Gene Luen Yang, Boxers & Saints

Poetry Finalists
–Frank Bidart, Metaphysical Dog
–Lucie Brock-Broido, Stay, Illusion
–Adrian Matejka, The Big Smoke
–Matt Rasmussen, Black Aperture
–Mary Szybist, Incarnadine: Poems

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28. McKenzie to Appear at KY Book Fair


Slushpile’s Scott McKenzie will be at the Kentucky Book Fair on Saturday, November 16 in Frankfort, Kentucky. The event is being held at the Frankfort Convention Center. Stop by and say hello!

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29. Almost 400k Self-Published Books in 2012


Galleycat points to the latest data that states more than 391,000 books were self-published last year. That’s an astounding 59% increase from the previous year.


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30. Ferriss to Publish Audiobooks


Over at TechCrunch, Anthony Ha has a pretty lengthy look at bestseller and entrepreneur Tim Ferriss’ new audiobook venture.

Ferriss always seems to be trying something new, and this “book club” as he describes it proves to be an interesting enterprise. One thing’s for sure… He’ll certainly document every success and every setback with incredible rigor so it should make for an educational exercise.

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31. Bestselling Author Michael Palmer Dies


According to report on the New York Times, bestselling author Dr. Michael Palmer has died at 71. Reports state that he suffered a heart attack while returning from an African safari.

What I find most interesting about the article is the way it focuses on Palmer’s writing as a therapeutic tool to overcome drug and alcohol dependence.

“I loved the feeling of being in control when my life was not,” the article quotes Palmer has having said.

Palmer was the author of Extreme Measures, Political Suicide, and many others.

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32. Werewolves, Lawsuits, Copyright, and Huge Daily Word Counts

Fixed gavel and scale of justiceHere’s a headline for you:

“Nebraska author sues Texas publisher over books involving werewolf sex”

Got your attention? Check out the full article over at Omaha.com. It’s an intriguing situation. But what really caught my attention was the statement that writer Erin R. Flynn churns out 15,000 words a day and can do a book in a week or two. Amazing output.

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33. Funny, and Harsh, Review of the Zuckerberg Book


Sam Grobart has an amusing, and pretty harsh, review of Randi Zuckerberg’s new childrens book, Dot. over at BloombergBusinessweek.

I’d be curious to see the artwork of the book given that Grobart points out the sum entirety of the opus is a whopping 101 words.


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34. The Dangers of Ghostwriting


Over at Salon, Anna Davies offers her experiences with ghostwriting and shares “My dirty secret writing life.” It’s an interesting look into the world of book packagers and those folks who churn out amazingly popular titles.

Now, as one of the commentors suggests, in some ways, ghostwriters are no different than the ranks of studio musicians who perform on record after record. That’s a profession I’ve always admired. While unique, distinctive musicians are certainly appreciated and applauded, I think it also takes a very unique and talented person to play on a jazz record in the morning and then rock out a metal tune in the afternoon and then maybe do an acoustic gig at a coffeeshop in the evening.

Certainly, I enjoyed my own time as a ghostwriter and co-author and would do it again. So I don’t look back and feel as though I’ve lost my soul or anything, as Davies states happened to her.

Nonetheless, the challenges and trials she relates in the article do have some merit. Ghostwriting isn’t for everybody. And for folks who think it’s all fun and glamor, then Davies’ piece is a useful word of warning.

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35. Mezrich Ranks Pop Culture’s Esteem for Writers


Bookish interviewed bestseller Ben Mezrich in a discussion that raises a number of interesting discussion points.

When the discussion turns to the writer’s place in pop culture, Mezrich says that we’re at the very bottom.

“Writers are now the lowest on the totem pole; you’ve got actors, directors, sports stars, chefs and, at the bottom, authors.”

He goes on to detail a possible explanation for this situation, but what do you think? Why aren’t authors bigger pop culture figures than we currently see today?

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36. Lamb of God Frontman Signs Book Deal


Add another hard rock memoir to the constantly bulging list of headbanging books

But in this case, there’s definitely a different story to be told, beyond just the usual “banging chicks, doing drugs” story.

Publisher’s Marketplace is reporting that Randy Blythe, lead singer of Lamb of God, has signed a book deal with Ben Schafer at Da Capo. Blythe was incarcerated for slightly more than 1 month (and tied up in criminal wranglings for almost a year) after a fan in the Czech Republic was killed in Prague.

Blythe stood trial and was acquitted, but the legal turmoil took a heavy toll on the band. Drummer Chris Adler recently told The Virginian-Pilot that the court case bankrupted the band.

Expected to be on bookstore shelves in the spring of 2014, Blythe’s memoir will certainly stand out from the rest of the heavy metal bookshelf.

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37. O’Brien Now Carries a 100k Check

Photo: Greg Helgeson

Tim O’Brien has been named the 2013 winner of the Pritzker Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing. The honor comes with a $100,000 honorarium. O’Brien is the first fiction writer ever to win the award. Although all his books are great, he is, of course, most well known for The Things They Carried.

Super nice guy, fantastic writer… Congratulations on a well-deserved honor.

For more details, check out the full announcement.

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38. Slate Says “Ignore Inspiration”


Slate has been running a series on the rituals and techniques of great artists. Today’s article, focuses on ignoring the idea of waiting for inspiration.

“Waiting for inspiration to strike is a terrible, terrible plan,” Mason Currey writes. “In fact, perhaps the single best piece of advice I can offer to anyone trying to do creative work is to ignore inspiration.” It’s not necessarily earth-shattering to most serious writers, but it is a useful reminder.

The people who can most obviously benefit from this type of advice are the — for lack of a better description — posers. The folks who spend all day at Starbucks with their computer open, hoping someone will ask them what they’re working on so they can spout off their lofty ideals about the muse, and art, and all that.

But even writers with a fairly dedicated routine can still benefit from the prescription to ignore inspiration. Even if you’re diligent about sitting your ass in the chair for a set number of hours a day, worrying too much about getting in the zone can lead you to bail out too quickly, to say, “It’s just not happening today.”

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39. Should You Pay to Make a Book About Success a Success?

gimme money.jpg

Finances are rarely as they seem.

The sports media blasts $100 million dollar deal headlines on an almost daily basis. But it’s only been in recent years that they began drawing the distinction between the guaranteed portions versus the purely imaginary Monopoly money the player will never actually receive. While basketball and baseball contracts are locked in, football contracts can be broken at any time by the team.

The entertainment media reports huge recording contracts, without referencing that the deal also covers merchandising and tour support. A band might “receive” a certain amount of cash in their agreement, but that pays for their studio time and tour bus rental, as opposed to pure profit.

Of course, lawyers, agents, assistants, and everyone else takes their cut as well.

As a result, we often assume that people have more money than they do. Just because TMZ and other outlets reported that Farrah Abraham “struck a deal” for almost a million dollars for fucking in a fake amateur sex tape doesn’t mean the Teen Mom star is depositing a check for exactly seven figures any time soon.

All of which is to say, I get it. You might seem like a big time player in a particular industry, but that doesn’t mean you’ve got piles of cash buried in the backyard, ready to be invested at a moment’s notice. Whatever your accomplishments may be, your bank account might not line up accordingly. Once again, I get it. But I’ll be goddamned if I can understand why we should subsidize a self-described successful Hollywood producer’s efforts to publish a book about becoming a successful screenwriter.

GalleyCat reported that Gary W. Goldstein, producer of Pretty Woman, The Mothman Prophecies, and other movies launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $12,000 to self-publish a book described as a “practical roadmap of every insider strategy I’ve learned on how to make it in Hollywood as a successful screenwriter.”

Let’s highlight the keywords and phrases in that description: “insider” and “make it” and “successful.”

In fact, the word “successful” is used about five times in the Kickstarter profile. Doesn’t this conjure images of someone who can make an investment in their own business and product? Maybe he’s not cruising a Bentley up and down the PCH on the way to his Malibu pad, but at least you’d think someone choosing to self-publish would, ya know, cough up the money to pay for self-publishing. I suppose you could argue that Goldstein’s fundraising effort is, on a small scale, precisely what a producer does: he seeks and puts together money from a variety of sources. Leveraging other people’s cash is old hat to Hollywood folks (and Wall Street) so maybe that’s what’s going on here.

Goldstein’s IMDB profile doesn’t show any projects since 2002 so maybe he’s hit a dry spell. Which doesn’t necessarily negate his knowledge and expertise on the subject. We’ve all gone through fallow periods or maybe changed careers and direction.

But the whole online fundraising thing is simply out of hand. No longer relegated to truly indie projects, charitable efforts, low budget start ups, and outrageous, outlandish flights of fancy, now Kickstarter and Indiegogo are employed to make a success of how-to-be-successful book from a success guru?

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40. Square Books Named PW Bookseller of the Year


During my time in graduate school at the University of Mississippi, I was lucky enough to work at Square Books in Oxford. So I was particularly pleased to see the news today that Publishers Weekly named the store as Bookseller of the Year.

Check out the full article here.

Congratulations to all the gang down there on a well-deserved honor!

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41. Will Finishing a Book Change Your Life?


GalleyCat referenced an interesting post by Arthur McMahon in which he expresses a bit of amazement at the fact that “Completing a novel didn’t change my perception of life like I expected it to.”

Some commenters at GalleyCat claimed they didn’t expect completing a novel would have any change, they write for themselves, not riches or fans or feedback, and all that.

But I totally understand what McMahon is getting at.

In his full post, available here, he writes that it’s a long-haul proposition. The completion of the first book is but a step towards the next one. And so forth.

It’s worth checking out and then examining your own opinions… Do you think that completing a book will change your life?

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42. A Laugh at Lousy Book Covers

A reader passed along this Tumblr account, dedicated to Lousy Book Covers. Now, obviously, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all that, so yeah, maybe this one shouldn’t be included or that one isn’t that bad or whatever. But it’s at least a pretty humorous gaze through the results of ten minutes with Photoshop.

Also, while enjoying this one, I stumbled across a blog dedicated to Bad Book Covers.

Like record covers, some of these are so bad as to be almost cool.

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43. Famed Faulkner Biographer Dies at 89

When I was in graduate school at the University of Mississippi, noted William Faulkner biographer Joseph Blotner visited campus. I met him in Square Books, the well-known independent bookstore where I worked at the time.

I was heavily into Faulkner, stacking up class upon class, filling my transcript with as many Faulkner courses as possible. And one of my teachers introduced me to Blotner.

He signed his book to me, “To Scott, a certified Faulkner scholar.” I realized he was only being nice, but still, that autograph and brief note meant the world to me.

So I was saddened to see the announcement of his death in The New York Times. Blotner passed away in Oakland, California in mid-November. The Times has a pretty lengthy bio of Blotner with details of his friendship with Faulkner.

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44. Sheen’s $10 Million Book?

Various outlets picked up a where Charlie Sheen is writing a memoir that he thinks might be worth $10 million. Presumably, he is writing the text himself and there hasn’t been any word of a ghostwriter being involved.

But for the sake of our discussion, let’s hypothetically assume that a co-author or ghostwriter were brought into the picture. At first glance, this gig would seem to be a dream come true. There are two main positives:

First, even if Sheen doesn’t receive the gargantuan advance mentioned in reports, he would surely get in the millions. If Sarah Silverman can get $2 million for her book, then you would have to assume that an actor with the most popular sitcom on television would get more cash. So a ghostwriter would stand to cash a pretty massive check.

Second, the publisher would want to cash in on all the news and publicity surrounding Sheen right now. So this would be a rushed project to hit bookstore shelves in just a few months. The ghostwriter would not only make a lot of money, he or she would do so quickly. Sometimes book projects can drag out over the course of years, minimizing your actual profits. But here, the book would be finished quickly.

However, there’s a huge risk in this situation…

Publishers frequently hold the ghostwriter or coauthor responsible for managing the celebrity. Some reality show starlet doesn’t give a shit about their reputation within the publishing community. Some massive arena rocker isn’t all that concerned about a quarter-million dollar advance. Some Hollywood starlet doesn’t care about a lawsuit because they’re in court every week. So editors sometimes expect the co-author to manage the star which can be tough. Imagine trying to get Sheen away from his three or four gorgeous nubile women so he can focus on gerunds and comma splices.

So any potential co-authors or ghostwriters out there lining up to get some Sheen book deal money, be careful what you wish for!

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Many guys have problems meeting women. Here’s a cool company that has changed people’s lives all over the world..

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46. AP Says Power Chord ‘Hits All the Right Notes’

I was thrilled to read the great review of Power Chord by the Associated Press. Linked here to the Washington Post publication of the review, the key takeaway is that PC is “entertaining travelogue of sorts that hits all the right notes.”

Be sure to the entire review here!

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47. Reviews that Say Nothing

A while ago, there was an uproar of discussion regarding the nature of book reviews and whether the critic should be, in the most simplistic way of speaking, “nice” or not. Quite a bit of the conversation centered on William Giraldi’s self-congratulatory, excessively assholish, show offy, “Let’s see how many references and allusions I can cram in because I’m so smart” critique of Alix Ohlin’s work.

As a rule, I don’t think book reviews have an obligation to bend over backwards to be complimentary, nor do I think critics should be hard-hearted, impossible-to-please ogres either.

But lost in this discussion of nice-versus-mean was another problem that plagues many book reviews: Critics who don’t criticize positively or negatively.

Check out this entirely non-commital Janet Maslin review of Robin Sloan’s Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore.

I’ve read this review three times now and I’m still not sure if Maslin likes the book or not. There are a handful of seemingly positive comments tossed in:

–A series of fantasy novels “are parodied here with great affection…”
–The author’s characters are “wittily-drawn…”
–The author “niftily embellishes his book…” with another character.

But that’s about it. There are no outright declarations of success or failure. Take for example the following passage: “Mr. Sloan is intent on connecting these Tokeinesque types to the bookstore’s real-world existence. That’s a big burden to place on such a mild-mannered, easygoing novel.” But instead of following up with letting us know about Sloan’s skill at shouldering that burden or his weakness under the weight, Maslin goes back to plot summary.

Ultimately, reviews like this are little more than book reports. And while I don’t believe readers need to be spoon-fed with explicit star systems or thumbs up/thumbs down methods of conveying quality at a glance, it is frustrating to read a review and not know whether the book is any good or not.

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48. Get Off My Damn Lawn! Says the Internet

As many of you know, November is National Novel Writing Month. To help folks blast through their 50,000 words in 30 days, GalleyCat has been providing writing prompts, tips, and words of encouragement. Most notable is this roundup where they collected two years worth of tips into a single post.

This week, they referred to some words of wisdom from Carolyn Kellogg. It’s a simple admonition, easy to implement, and cheap. And something that all of us writers need to remember from time to time, even if we’re not trying to churn out a novel this month.

Simply go offline.

That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less. Here’s Kellogg’s entire post.

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49. Entertainment Mogul to Appear at Book Soup

Longtime entertainment and sports industry veteran David Fishof is appearing at Book Soup in Los Angeles today at 7:00pm.

Once a sports agent to athletes like baseball slugger Lou Pinella and quarterbacks Vince Ferragamo and Phil Simms, Fishof switched his focus to the entertainment world in the eighties. He reunited the Monkees and started the highly successful runs of Ringo Starr’s All-Star Band tours. These days, he most well known for running the Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp, an amazing experience where regular dudes get to jam with legendary rock stars.

I participated in a RRFC when I was writing my latest book Power Chord. I had a fantastic time hobknobbing with folks like Ace Frehley, Rudy Sarzo, iconic producer Eddie Kramer, and many more. It’s a great, great event and I was amazed at how well-run and organized the weekend was. I’ve put together a few conferences and stuff before, nowhere near the scale and complexity of the Rock Camp, and it’s a tough, tough job. So I was really impressed at Fishof’s team.

Now, Fishof shares the lessons he’s learned on tour and in the production rooms of major rock tours in Rock Your Business: What You and Your Company Can Learn from the Business of Rock and Roll. It’s a fun, informative read about how you can apply many of the characteristics of rockstars and their agents in your own daily life, whether you’re an attorney or run a hardware store. But Fishof’s lessons saves you the destroyed hotel rooms and embarrassing mug shots.

If you’re in the Hollywood area tomorrow, make sure to swing by the event at Book Soup. And if you’re a rock fan, take your autograph book. It wouldn’t be surprising if some of Fishof’s heavyweight pals make an appearance.

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50. Lita Ford Signs Deal with William Morrow

Add guitarist and singer Lita Ford to the burgeoning list of rockers with book deals. [Here's a round up of hard rock books.] Reports are that the former Runaways member and longtime solo artist has signed a publishing deal with William Morrow for a memoir called Living Like a Runaway. Joel Selvin is flying co-pilot on the book. The book is scheduled for publication in 2013.

Ford (pictured here in a shot I took when she performed with Queensryche in 2009) has been promoting her most recent solo record, with the same name as the book, in recent days. It’s a rocking disc, well worth checking out if you’re a fan of guitar-driven rock. It’s a pleasant return to form, and a very genuine and sincere emotional journey, from someone who went through a few tough years.

The news about the book promises to cover Ford’s trials as “she had to escape a terrifying marriage that cut her off from the rest of the world.” After previous romantic connections with head bangers like Nikki Sixx, Chris Holmes, and Tony Iommi, Ford married former Nitro vocalist Jim Gillette in 1994. The couple divorced in 2011.

I’ve got high hopes for this book, as Ford definitely has a unique perspective on late seventies and eighties hard rock that we haven’t heard before. her former bandmate Cherie Currie’s Neon Angel was a good book and Ford was largely absent from the film version of the stories about the Runaways. But at the same time, I’m cautious because there have been so many disappointing music memoirs lately. And Vince Neil’s atrocious book, which also used the same title as a solo record, sets a bad precedent for repeating monikers. But I’ll definitely check out Ford’s book when it’s released.

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