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1. Hey indie ebook authors, here’s how to succeed

Smashwords

Smashwords

Attention, indie ebook authors. Mark Coker at Smashwords wants you to know that there’s never been a better time to be you. He writes, “Thanks to an ever-growing global market for your ebooks, your books are a couple clicks away from over one billion potential readers on smart phones, tablets and e-readers. In the world of ebooks, the playing field is tilted to the indie author’s advantage.”

Then, the wake-up call. Coker goes on to report that “the gravy train of exponential sales growth is over,” with indie (self-published) authors seeing “significant” sales decline at Amazon, especially since the July launch of Kindle Unlimited. He had predicted the slowdown and attributes it to the glut of high-quality low-cost ebooks, the increasing rate of ebook supply outpacing demand, and the slowing, much-discussed transition from print to ebooks.

However, all is not lost. He offers tips on how to succeed in this new ebook environment. You’ll want to see his entire piece at Smashwords, as space constraints require editing them down. Here is a short take on Mark Coker’s 20:

1. Take the long view; focus on aggressive platform building.
2. Good isn’t good enough. Are you bringing your best game?
3. Write more, publish more, get better.
4. Diversify your distribution.
5. Network with other indie authors.
6. Publish and promote multi-author box set collaborations; you can build your base.
7. Leverage professional publishing tools, like preorder, to your advantage.
8. Best practices; there are seven, and Mark gives a good summary in his blog. Your fellow indie authors pioneered these practices, so listen up.
9. You’re running a business: be nice, ethical, honest, and humble. It pays.
10. Pinch your pennies; practice expense control.
11. Manage your time.
12. Take risks, experiment, and fail often.
13. Dream big dreams; aim high. Salvador Dali said: “Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings.”
14. Be delusional.
15. Embrace your doubters.
16. Celebrate your fellow authors’ success. Their success is your success.
17. Remember that past success is no guarantee of your future success.
18. Never quit.
19. Own your future.
20. Know that your writing is important.

I’ll just repeat that last one: Know that your writing is important.

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2. Daniel Handler Contributes $10K to the We Need Diverse Books Crowdfunding Campaign

Daniel Handler 300Daniel Handler incited fury within the literary community for the offensive jokes he made at the recent National Book Awards ceremony. Handler, who served as the master of ceremonies, has publicly expressed remorse for those remarks and found a way to make amends.

Handler (pictured, via) revealed on Twitter that he plans to contribute $10,000 to the We Need Diverse Books Indiegogo campaign. For the next 24 hours, he will match whatever donations come in up to $100,000.

Below, we’ve collected all the tweets that make up Handler’s apology and announcement in a Storify post embedded below. What do you think? (via BuzzFeed)

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3. Classroom Connections: SEARCHING FOR SILVERHEELS, by Jeannie Mobley


age range: 10-14 years
setting: Colorado, 1917
Jeannie Mobley’s website

study guide

Pearl’s lively narration reveals her transformation from an old-fashioned, romantic girl into a spirited, courageous champion. Mobley uses the legend of Silverheels to effectively “raise questions about the traditional roles of women and their sources of strength,” as she writes in her author’s note, against the backdrop of wartime Colorado. An engrossing, plausible story of several unlikely feminist heroines with a touch of romance and intrigue. — Kirkus Reviews

Please tell us about your book.

Searching for Silverheels is the story of a romantically minded 13 year old, Pearl, who works in her family’s café in the small mountain town of Como, Colorado in 1917, just after the United States has entered the First World War.  She loves the local legend of Silverheels, a dance hall girl of the gold rush era, who saved a town from smallpox. However, Josie, a cynical old women’s suffragist, scoffs at Pearl for telling the story to the tourists, arguing that Silverheels was more likely a crook after the miner’s gold than a hero. They enter into a bet, each trying to prove their version of the legend, but in the mean time, accusations of sedition and anti-patriotism arise in the town, threatening both Pearl’s family and Josie. Pearl is forced to decide what she really believes in and to act, even if it costs her.

What inspired you to write this story?

I have known the legend of Silverheels for as long as I can remember, being a Colorado native that spent a great deal of time in the mountains in the area where Silverheels lived, and where there is, to this day, a mountain named after her. I hadn’t thought about the legend for a long time, but when I heard it again I realized there are some odd inconsistencies in it that made me think that Silverheels had the perfect set up for a scam–tend the dying miners, seduce them with her legendary beauty, and then take their gold.  As a kid, I had loved the legend for its romantic, tragic beauty, and having this new vision of it as a more cynical adult, I thought, what an interesting story it would be to debate the story from the two sides.

I also realized what a good set up for exploring the roles of women in traditional society, and all the ways that women are called to be strong. So, I chose to set it during World War I so I could bring in the suffrage movement as well as all the things women did on the home front to keep the country going during the war.

Could you share with readers how you conducted your research or share a few interesting tidbits you learned while researching?

I did very little book research before I started writing this story. Since I’ve known the legend of Silverheels and the area where the story took place since childhood, I tried to draw on deep childhood memories to shape the character of Pearl and her experiences and feelings about her mountain home. While Pearl’s story is entirely fictitious, her feelings and personality are  drawn very much on who I was as a kid.  So, I did a small amount of research about the home front in various wars, and settled on World War I, mostly because the National Women’s party, one arm of the  suffrage movement, came to blows with the authorities over criticizing the president during war time.

I researched details as I wrote, stopping when I needed to fill in a detail–like when the first Liberty Bonds were issued, what they cost and how the program worked, or what the train schedule was like in Como, a railroad hub of the era, or how long it might have taken by train to get from one location to another.  Sometimes those details would draw me into an hour of research, sometimes I’d have to work on research for a day or more. And there were a few times I found things out and had to back up and rewrite things I had gotten wrong. That is a definite problem with my system of research-as-I-go, but I don’t know what I need to research until I get there.

Always, when I am writing a piece of historical fiction, I am “researching” in my time away from the writing desk, too. I watch TV programs or read novels set in that era or written in that era, I listen to period music, and I daydream, to get my mind steeped in the deeper feeling of the time period.

What are some special challenges associated with writing historical fiction?

Of course, there is always the challenge of getting the historical era right and finding the balance of including enough historical detail to get a sense of the era without overdoing it. I think it is also important to hit the right balance of making it feel familiar and also exotic.  Historical fiction appeals to readers for its ability to help us escape into a different world, but at the same time, I think historical fiction has a romantic appeal too. There is something warm about the “good old days,” even if they weren’t all that good in reality. I think many readers like the comfortable warmth of stories set in the late 19th/early 20th century. The sense of family and of home that linger in the memories of adults who read the Little House books as kids, for example. 

So for me, I try to evoke some of those same feelings in my work, while still being true to all the things that made the “good old days” not so good. Because there was a lot of hard work and discrimination and sexism in those days, and there was a struggle to survive. I try to keep all of that present in my work.

What topics does your book touch upon that would make it a perfect fit for the classroom?

My book looks at traditional roles of women, the home front during war, and the suffrage movement, all topics of interest in American History. We are now in the hundredth anniversary of World War I, which began in Europe in the summer of 1914, and continued until 1918. For the United States, the centennial of our involvement in the war doesn’t begin until 2017, but there is a new focus on that war right now, and this book fits into that topic very neatly.

I also think that historical fiction can fit in nicely with the focus of the Common Core on increased attention to informational texts, which include things like non-fiction and primary sources.  One of the intriguing things about historical fiction is it creates a personal interest in history, because it gets the reader emotionally involved with people in the past. And once that emotional involvement is there, it is much more interesting to do the background research (for example, people who never study history often love researching an ancestor). 

So, I think historical fiction can be a wonderful gateway into those informational texts, as readers of the novel say, “Did that really happen?” or “Did people really do that back then?” Those questions can be used as starting points for digging in deeper and finding out the truth. For example, in my book, suffragists are arrested at the White House in July of 1917, which triggers a protest rally on the steps of the State Capitol in Denver. Readers might then ask, did that really happen, and they can turn to the history books or old newspapers to find out. Toward that end, I do include various links to research resources in my teachers guides and on my website.

The post Classroom Connections: SEARCHING FOR SILVERHEELS, by Jeannie Mobley appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

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4. The Grolier Club is Hosting the ‘Quotations of Chairman Mao’ Exhibit

getImageThe Grolier Club is hosting an exhibit focused on the “Quotations of Chairman Mao.”

Here’s more from The New York Times: “The exhibition begins at the beginning, and even before, with several precursor anthologies that can be seen as steppingstones to the Quotations, first issued with a white paper cover in spring 1964. Vinyl bindings in three shades of blue were tried out, but within a few months, the red vinyl cover with an incised red star in the center, now familiar, appeared, and red it remained, all over the world. One of the more arresting display cases includes nearly identical copies of the Quotations in dozens of languages, from Albanian to Uighur.”

Justin G. Schiller, a collector and rare bookseller, loaned many items for this display. It was organized in honor of the 50th anniversary of the publication of the Communist leader’s little red book. A closing date has been scheduled for January 10, 2015. Follow this link to read an English translation of some of the text.

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5. National Book Award Winners for 2014

nationalbookawardPhil Klay has won the Fiction award for his book Redeployment from The Penguin Press/Penguin Group (USA).

Evan Osnos has won the Nonfiction award for Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China from Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Louise Gluck won the Poetry award for Faithful and Virtuous Night from Farrar, Strauss and Giroux.

The Young People’s Literature award went to Jacqueline Woodson for Brown Girl Dreaming from Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan.

The National Book Award winners for 2014 were revealed tonight. If you want to read all the finalists, we’ve collected free samples of the finalists in all the categories below. Who was your favorite this year?

(more…)

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6. Neil Gaiman & Ursula Le Guin at the National Book Awards

ursula_leguinAuthor Neil Gaiman presented the 2014 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters to Ursula Le K. Le Guin at the National Book Awards this evening.

Before tonight, the two had only met once in an elevator at a sci-fi writer’s conference more than two decades ago in the Midwest. They were on an elevator together and she asked him, ”Are there any room parties tonight that you know of?”  and he replied, “I don’t know.”

While Gaiman had never met LeGuin in person, her work played a huge role in influencing his writing. As a young writer, Gaiman couldn’t figure out how to copy her style as he did with other writers because her work was so “clean.” So he cheated and read her essays on writing to help inform his own writing when he was a young writer.

“She raised my consciousness,” he said explaining that she opened his eyes to women’s issues. “She made me a better writer and much more importantly, she made me a better person who wrote.” (more…)

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7. National Book Award Nominees Share Writing Advice

nbaGalleyCat is at the 65th annual National Book Awards tonight in New York. We have been speaking with the nominees about their advice for writers.

Maureen N. McLean, the nominee in the poetry category for This Blue said: “Have open ears and read dead writers because they are channeling sounds that are still alive and they might attune you to things in the air that aren’t necessarily on the web or on TV or on a video game. English is a huge big weird language and why not swim in it.”

Steve Sheinkin, Young People’s Literature nominee, for his book The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights told us that the goal is: “to get to that point where you just show it to somebody. Everyone will always tell you, ‘you have to write every day,’ so you know that. But what really accelerates the improvement, is getting past that fear of showing it to somebody and really listening to what they say open-mindedly. It will be so much better after two or three smart and trusted readers have given you feedback and the whole rest of the world will never know that it was bad to begin with.” (more…)

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8. Lemony Snicket Has Sympathy For Writers

snicket_lemony_lg_400x400Daniel Handler, aka Lemony Snicket, knows that it is tough for writers. The author and host of the National Book Awards ceremony in New York tonight told GalleyCat that he knows how tough it is to write.

“People who are trying to be writers have my sympathy,” he told GalleyCat. “I am sympathetic to their plights. I know the feeling of working on something and feeling lonely and undesired. Anyone who is foolhardy and or brave enough to be writing nowadays has my utter support and sympathy.”

His advice for writers: “Eavesdrop and have an excuse ready so when  you are caught eavesdropping the excuse can be uttered immediately,” he told us.

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9. What Makes an Award Winning Book?

sharondraperWhat makes for an award winning book? Author/teacher Sharon M. Draper, the chair of committee of judges for the Young People’s Literature, says that it is all about “the language, the charters, the imagery, the history.”

We caught up with Draper at the National Book Awards ceremony where she let us in on how the committee went about selecting books for the category. Faced with 294 submissions, the team set out to find “books that were compelling, books that were lasting, books that young people would want to read over and over again,” Draper explains.

“It is almost indescribable what makes an excellent book, but you know it when you read it and you just say, ‘this one is something that is worthwhile,” concludes Draper. “I used to be a teacher, so I know what young people do, I write for young people so I kind of know what they are looking for and what they like and what they’ll reject.”

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10. Ursula K. Le Guin Shares Writing Advice at The National Book Awards

ursula_leguinLegendary author Ursula K. Le Guin is receiving the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters at the National Book Awards ceremony tonight in New York.

GalleyCat caught up with the author at the show and asked for her advice for writers. “Write,” she said. “Put it away and then write some more.”

When we asked her about getting published, Le Guin admitted that these days publishing can be tough. “Write and hope,” she responded.

Le Guin also gave advice for how to work with editors. She says that you should listen to the editor but also to your own instincts. ”You’ve got to decide who is right, and you get to,” she stressed.

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11. November 2014 Picture Book Month Passes the Halfway Mark



“When we reached the top, there were over a hundred children gathered on the hillside, some of whom had walked miles to hear a story.” – Sophie Blackall from her Picture Book Month Essay

“If a picture book and an iPad got into a fight, a picture book would totally kick an iPad's butt.” – Aaron Reynolds from his Picture Book Month Essay

Picture Book Month has just passed the halfway mark. Around the world, schools, libraries, booksellers, and book lovers are coming together to celebrate the print picture book during the month of November. Now in its fourth year, the initiative is a viral phenomenon.

The website, PictureBookMonth.com, features essays from thought leaders in the children’s literature community. Each day in November, a new essay is posted. This year’s Picture Book Month Champions are: Chris Barton, Aaron Becker, Kelly Bingham , Sophie Blackall, Arree Chung, Anna Dewdney, Johnette Downing, Ame Dyckman, Jill Esbaum, Carolyn Flores, Lupe Ruiz-Flores, Robin Preiss Glasser, Deborah Heiligman, Marla Frazee, Stefan Jolet, Kathleen Krull, Rene Colato Lainez, Loreen Leedy, Betsy Lewin, Ted Lewin, Brian Lies, Kelly J. Light, Debbie Ridpath Ohi, Alexis O'Neill, Sandra Markle, Ann Whitford Paul, Aaron Reynolds, Judy Schachner, Linda Joy Singleton, and David Schwartz.

New features this year include “Curriculum Connections” by Education Consultant, Marcie Colleen. Every day, a new activity and curriculum connection is posted based on the Author/Illustrator’s book. In addition, the multi-page Picture Book Month Educator’s Guide, correlating picture books across the curriculum, is available as a free download for educators and teacher librarians.

We are pleased to also announce that Reading Rainbow has recently joined as a Picture Book Month partner. Support for the initiative continues with partners such as the American Booksellers Association, the American Association of School Librarians, the Children’s Book Council, Reading is Fundamental, and SCBWI as well as industry trade journals such as Hornbook, School Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly. New 2014 partners also include The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art and Friends of Tennessee Libraries.

A downloadable promotional kit is available as well as certificates, posters, and bookmarks created by Joyce Wan. Katie Davis’ Brain Burps About Books Podcast, the #1 kidlit podcast on iTunes, is dedicating the entire month of November to Picture Book Month with new episodes airing every Friday. The PBM calendar created by Elizabeth Dulemba lists all the Picture Book Month Champions as well as the daily theme. The daily themes are used to plan story times, book displays, and blog posts.

Founder Dianne de Las Casas says, “People are joining the celebration from countries such as Ireland, Jamaica, and Singapore, as well as across the entire United States. We love that school libraries are reporting virtually empty picture book shelves. It’s not too late to join the celebration!” Follow Picture Book Month on Twitter, @PictureBkMonth, and Facebook, and use the hashtag #PictureBookMonth. Visit www.picturebookmonth.com.

“A picture book is a simile that shivers. A metaphor that melts. A not-a-poem, yet Every. Word. Counts. Picture books excite the eye, the ear, the heart.” – Alexis O’Neill from her Picture Book Month Essay


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12. Jonathan Franzen to Publish New Novel in 2015

Franzen 200Jonathan Franzen (pictured, via) has been working a new novel entitled Purity.

Farrar, Straus & Giroux will publish the book in September 2015. Philip Weinstein will share an analysis of Purity in his forthcoming biography, Jonathan Franzen: The Comedy of Rage.

Here’s more from The New York Times: “The story centers on a young woman named Purity Tyler, or Pip, who doesn’t know who her father is and sets out to uncover his identity. The narrative stretches from contemporary America to South America to East Germany before the collapse of the Berlin Wall, and hinges on the mystery of Pip’s family history and her relationship with a charismatic hacker and whistleblower.”

(more…)

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13. Walter Isaacson Declares That This Is a Great Era For Journalism

Walter Isaacson appeared at Google to share his thoughts on the digital revolution and to discuss his new book The Innovators. We’ve embedded the Isaacson’s full talk above—what do you think?

During the Q&A session, Isaacson declared that “journalism is not in demise at all. This is the best era ever for journalism.”

Issacson acknowledges that the business model the industry relies on is not sustainable. He feels that “there is no way advertising will support great journalism alone.” The question now becomes, how will the business evolve to respond to this modern age?

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14. Margaret Atwood Creates a Zombie Apocalypse Survival Guide

Margaret AtwoodHow would Margaret Atwood handle a zombie apocalypse? According to the guide she posted on BuzzFeed, she would camp out at the top of the Empire State Building in New York City because “zombies can’t climb.”

Some of the other helpful tips that Atwood shares include making an alliance with Lord Baden Powell as “it’d be helpful to be with the founder of the Boy Scouts” and staying connected to Twitter because “people are going to want news, not photos of your baby.” What do you think?

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15. Neil Gaiman Praises The First Amendment

Author Neil Gaiman has shot a video praising the first amendment. In the video embedded above, Gaiman talks about how he came to realize the value of free speech after he came to the United States. The NCAC honored Gaiman at a gala event earlier this month along with Robie H. Harris and the Trumbull High Thespian Society.

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16. Dan Gutman Pitches a Book With a Rap Song

Have you ever tried to pitch your book using an unconventional method? Writer Dan Gutman recorded himself performing a rap song about a new project starring a musical dinosaur named “Rappy the Raptor“.

Thinking outside the box worked in Gutman’s favor; he signed a contract for a six-book deal with HarperCollins Children’s Books. The video embedded above features his “pitch” song—what do you think?

Artist Tim Bowers created the illustrations for Gutman’s picture book. The publishing house has scheduled a release date for April 21, 2015.

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17. Weinstein Books to Publish Ebola Memoir

WeinsteinBookslogo“The love of my life and the father of my son came to America to marry me. It was supposed to be the first happy day of a new life of joy for us all. But before we could make our new family, he died a terrible death in a quarantined room… I am writing this book to tell people about Eric, about our love story, about our family, and about my faith that has been tested but not broken.”

These are the words of Louise Troh, whose fiancé Thomas Eric Duncan became the first man on American soil to be diagnosed with the Ebola virus, and then, the first to die of the disease in America. She will tell her story for the first time in a book to be published in April 2015 by Weinstein Books, which is a joint venture of The Weinstein Company and The Perseus Books Group.

Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman of The Weinstein Company, said, “This is a heartbreaking, emotional family story. Spanning continents and decades, Louise shows faith and grace through it all.”

According to AP, Troh says she will use part of the book proceeds for a down payment on a new home.

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18. Melissa de la Cruz to Write a YA Spinoff Based on the ‘Witches of East End’ Novels

Witches of East EndMelissa de la Cruz plans to write a spinoff project inspired by her Witches of East End adult novels. Penguin Young Readers Group will release Triple Moon: Summer on East End, the first installment of de la Cruz’s young adult series, on July 14, 2015.

The Triple Moon story stars twin witches named Mardi and Molly Overbrook. Two characters from the original book series and the TV show, Freya and Killian Gardiner, will appear in the new books.

With Lifetime’s Witches of East End TV series facing cancellation, de la Cruz wants to take a hands-on approach to help her fans. In a statement emailed to Entertainment Weekly, de la Cruz explains: “I have asked producers if there is no hope for the show, if I can weave in some of the cliffhangers from season two so I can resolve them and bring closure. I have an idea on how to do it, but we’ll see. It’s a legal issue so it might not be able to fly.”

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19. KidLit Author Events Nov. 5-10

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We have another crowded weekend, with several events happening Saturday, including opportunities at writing conferences. Good luck to all who are toiling away on NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) or PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month)!

November 5, Wednesday, 7:00 PM MORTAL HEART by Robin LaFevers
Blue Willow Bookshop
Robin La Fevers, YA Author

In MORTAL HEART (Harcourt Brace and Company), the powerful conclusion to Robin LaFever’s NYT bestselling His Fair Assassins trilogy, Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own. She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind, doesn’t mean she has.

November 6, Thursday, 4:00-6:00 PM TAKE ME TO YOUR BBQ by Kathy Duval; illustrated by Adam McCauley
Barnes & Noble, Vanderbilt Square
Kathy Duval, PB Author

Picture book author Kathy Duval will be reading and signing at St. Vincent’s Family Night. In TAKE ME TO YOUR BBQ (Hyperion/Disney) aliens have landed on Willy’s farm and they’re not leaving without a square dance and a square meal! So fire up that grill, lay on the barbeque sauce and snatch up that fiddle. Told in verse, this rollicking story puts a twist on the typical encounter with the third kind.

Kathy will also be appearing for this special story time:
November 7, Friday, 4:00 PM
Barnes & Noble, River Oaks
Kathy Duval, PB Author

November 8, Saturday, 9:00 AM-4:30 PM Sarah Cortez, Councilor of the Texas Institute of Letters
Houston Writers’ Guild Conference
Hilton Houston Westchase
Price: $50 members/$60 nonmembers/$30 student members

All-day workshop: How to Finish Your Novel with Sarah Cortez. Daunted by characters who won’t cooperate inside your plot? Foiled by narrative arcs that don’t end, lost their tension or, worse yet, fail to deliver reader satisfaction?  Come to the Houston Writers Guild, November Fall Mini-Conference session conducted by award-winning teacher/writer/editor Sarah Cortez to learn tips used by professional novelists in these exact situations and more.

November 8, Saturday, 9:00 AM.-4:30 PM Jodell Sadler, Literary Agent
A& M United Methodist Church, College Station
SCBWI Workshop with Agent Jodell Sadler
Cost: $125 for SCBWI members, $150 for non-members

Pick up the Pace!—A Workshop with Agent Jodell Sadler of Sadler Children’s Literary: Story pacing can make the difference between a “nice try” rejection and a publishable manuscript. Whether you’re working on page turns in a 500-word picture book or end-of-chapter cliff-hangers in a 50,000-word novel, Jodell Sadler has tips and tools to help pick up the pace. Join SCBWI Brazos Valley for a day-long workshop focused on pacing and strong writing skills. Register through the event website.

November 8, Saturday, 10:00 AM-Noon
Maud Marks Library (1815 Westgreen Blvd, Katy
Katy Kritique Group and The Space City Scribes
Writing Workshop—Nuts and Bolts of Indie Publishing

Join the writers of the Katy Kritique Group and The Space City Scribes for a free workshop! They’ll help those wanting to independently publish and will provide information on sales channels, covers, editing, marketing and more.

November 8, Saturday, 10:00 AM- NOON, & Sunday, November 9, 2:00-4:00 PM Teen and Middle Grade Authors
Larry J. Ringer Library, College Station
Teen & Middle Grade Authors Event

Teen and tween aspiring authors and adult authors who write for teen and middle grade audiences, talk about their books and about other teen and middle grade fiction, book signings. More info about this event here.

November 8, Saturday, NOON #HASHTAGGED by Kimberly Hix Trant
Barnes & Noble, College Station
Kimberly Hix Trant, YA Author

Join KBB to celebrate the release of Kimberly Hix Trant’s first book #HASHTAGGED (Tate). #hashtagged is a chilling new science fiction novel about a daughter’s journey through her father’s past and into a frightening future. This future is something that Oliver Smith has seen firsthand and for which he has been preparing his daughter, Madeline. After Ollie’s death, Maddy must follow a trail of secrets that leads her into the arms of her first love, Jagger, the only person that can truly help her fight against a future world governed by artificial intelligence.

November 8, Saturday, 2:00-4:00 PM SPACE CTY 6, Anthology
Katy Budget Books
Multi-Author Event

Space City Scribes, an author collective of Houston indie authors, introduce their new anthology, SPACE CITY 6: HOUSTON STORIES FROM THE WEIRD TO THE WONDERFUL, a collection of short stories with a Houston flair.

Attending YA/MG/PB authors: Monica Shaughnessy , Mandy Broughton, Ellen Leventhal, Ellen Rothberg, Artemis Greenleaf, and Kaleigh Castle Maguire.

November 10, Monday, 5:00 PM EVERBLAZE by Shannon Messenger
Blue Willow Bookshop
Shannon Messenger, MG Author

Shannon Messenger will discuss and sign EVERBLAZE, the third book in the KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES series.

Sophie Foster is ready to fight back. Her talents are getting stronger, and with the elusive Black Swan group ignoring her calls for help, she’s determined to find her kidnappers—before they come after her again. But a daring mistake leaves her world teetering on the edge of war, and causes many to fear that she has finally gone too far. And the deeper Sophie searches, the farther the conspiracy stretches, proving that her most dangerous enemy might be closer than she realizes.

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20. Invisible boundaries and social media - C.J. Busby

A few weeks ago, a young American first-time author, Kathleen Hale, unleashed a bit of a social media storm by publishing a piece in The Guardian about the increasingly vexed online relationship between authors and bloggers. The article (here) which ran in the Saturday magazine, detailed how she became obsessed by one of her online critics, a blogger called Blythe Harris. When Hale engaged with Blythe's criticism's of her book (despite the many, many warnings she received that authors should not answer back to bad reviews), Blythe and many of her fellow bloggers apparently turned on her and Hale found herself labelled a BBA - a badly behaved author. For Hale (and I should emphasise that we only get Hale's perspective on what happened here), Blythe was wilfully malicious, ruining the reception of her book, and using her clique of friends and fellow bloggers to trash Hale's reputation. In return, Hale details her own increasing obsession with Blythe - an obsession which rapidly moved from what she termed 'light stalking' (gathering any and every detail she could from Blythe's online presence) to what by any standards is just plain stalking - using subterfuge to gain access to Blythe's real-life identity, workplace address and home address.



It's a sorry tale, and I'm not going to rehash the Hale case here, but it did make me think about the business of social media, writers, bloggers and boundaries. Authors, as Hale notes, are encouraged to get online and have a social media presence, but their natural audience, book bloggers and fans, seem quite often to resent authors turning up on their turf and, as they see it, throwing their weight around. A while ago, as a bit of a newbie author, I brushed up against a similar controversy when I noticed an online discussion on a book blogger's site about one of Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London series.



I'm a bit of a fan of this series, and was interested to see that the author had stopped by and commented, explaining where some of the features the blogger was discussing had come from in the writing process. It was (I thought) a perfectly polite contribution, and not in the least critical of her analysis, simply adding a bit of background information. But it caused an immediate storm, in which I was very slightly caught up, having added a comment of my own about the strange ways the writing process worked. For some of the following commentators, writers were simply not welcome on a book blogging site - they were guilty of abusing the power they had as authors to dominate a space that was not for them. Book blogs and fan sites should be considered a space for fans and book lovers to freely express themselves and not somewhere authors should feel free to gatecrash.

It was all resolved fairly amicably - Ben Aaronovitch backed down with a bit of grumbling, and I apologised profusely for being new to all this and not understanding the rules of the game. But the Hale article did bring this experience back to me.

What both examples make clear, I think, is that engaging in discussion with other people on social media is now the easiest thing in the world to do, but that it's also potentially perilous - what seems to be a simple opening gambit in a conversation can quickly become a reason for several people you've never met to decide they hate you. And thinking about why this is, made me realise that it's partly about the lack of social clues we have online.

Picture this: an author walks into a cafe, orders a coffee, and then realises that at the table next to him are six women, clearly friends, all discussing why they don't really like his new book. He would have to be completely mad or utterly self-obsessed to lean across and say, "Excuse me, ladies, that point you've just made is very interesting, but as the author, I'd have to say you've misunderstood my intention...." More likely, he'd hide behind a newspaper, or slink out. It's not his place to push into a group which is clearly bounded by longstanding interactions and mutual exchange of opinions. On the web, though, it's hard to see those boundaries, easier to think this is a discussion open to anyone who happens to wander past.

We've probably all had the experience of adding comments on a forum discussion, only to have what we've said utterly ignored as the next commentator simply replies to the one before you, and the next one carries on as if you never said anything. It feels like a snub (it is a snub) - but if this were real life, the group discussing this burning issue would be that bunch of students who always occupy the table in the corner of the canteen, looking daggers at anyone who even thinks about sitting next to them - and we wouldn't be in the least surprised if they ignored our comment. (We'd almost certainly never make it in the first place.)

Would you interrupt the conversation?

As social animals, we have built up over generations the ability to detect the smallest social clues about other people and groups around us. The kinds of interaction we engage in with other people are largely determined by our previous interactions with them, their status as friends or family or work colleagues. Even with total strangers we can use visible clues like dress, body language, expression, context, to judge what is or isn't appropriate. All these help us to 'see' the boundaries that we would be transgressing and the trouble we could be causing if we were to be, for example, inappropriately intimate or aggressive or opinionated.

The trouble with social media is these clues are just not there. We've only had access to this multitude of potential conversations with strangers  for a very short time, and people appear on it as little more than speech. Speech which is devoid of accents, of voice, of clues about who this person is. It's like wandering in a dark fog, listening to many voices all talking at random - but the people behind the voices are invisible. So we have to make guesses about what kinds of people they are, and whether we are gatecrashing through an invisible boundary, or striking up a conversation with someone genuinely interested in talking to us.

Those speaking to each other on a forum, a blog, on Goodreads, can appear as simply a bunch of individuals interested in the same topic, a bunch of reasonable, open individuals who would welcome a newcomer to their midst. Sometimes that is exactly what they are. But sometimes, the invisible boundaries are as fierce as barbed wire, and we cross them at our peril.

The way invisible boundaries are so difficult to negotiate sometimes makes me want to give up on all forms of online interaction. Like Liz Kessler, who posted recently about social media on ABBA (here), I have considered just ditching all of it in favour of interactions in real life only. But, in the end, I don't, because so far I've managed to negotiate those boundaries more or less unscathed, and in the process I've 'met' some really brilliant people (some of whom I've gone on to really meet).

The fact is, most people on social media ARE open, engaged, reasonable and friendly, and, if you transgress an invisible boundary, they are usually polite enough to just inform you gently that you're in the wrong place. But I do think it's important to be aware that just because those boundaries are invisible, doesn't mean they are not there - and when you find a clear notice that says "Authors (or whoever) are Not Welcome Beyond this Point", it probably pays to respect it.




C.J. Busby writes funny, fast-paced fantasy for children aged 7-12. Her latest books, Dragon Amber, is published by Templar.

www.cjbusby.co.uk

@ceciliabusby







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21. Rockers write: Mick Fleetwood, Jimmy Page, Billy Idol, Scott Ian, and Joe Perry

MickFleetwoodcoverRollicking, rowdy, and introspective, five big rockers record their memoirs and reminiscences in big books this season.

Mick Fleetwood’s Play On: Now, Then, and Fleetwood Mac (Little, Brown), shares his life as a drummer and bandleader and sheds new light on Fleetwood Mac’s raucous history and his lifelong friend John McVie. In the New York Post, Larry Getlen said, “”In his new memoir, Fleetwood documents his wild life, including how the creation of 1977′s Rumours, one of the best-selling albums of all time, almost drove the band insane.”

Jimmy Page by Jimmy Page (Genesis) is a photographic autobiography. Jimmy Page has chosen hundreds of photographs from his career as a celebrated guitarist: from a schoolboy with a “Rockabilly” forelock through his extensive work as a session musician; including The Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin, ARMS, The Firm, Outrider, Coverdale & Page and Page & Plant; playing with Roy Harper and The Black Crowes; collaborating with P. Diddy, and performing with Leona Lewis at the closing ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

In his autobiography Dancing with Myself (Touchstone), Billy Idol is candid, brash, and lively. He says, “I am hopelessly divided between the dark and the good, the rebel and the saint, the sex maniac and the monk, the poet and the priest, the demagogue and the populist. Pen to paper, I’ve put it all down, every bit from the heart. I’m going out on a limb here, so watch my back.”

Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian brings us the fast-paced, funny, and revealing I’m the Man (Da Capo). He includes tales from first hearing Kiss on the radio, backstage with Metallica, and the complete history of Anthrax, to interviewing Ozzy Osbourne for “The Rock Show” while dressed as Gene Simmons (and going undetected), marrying Meatloaf’s daughter, singer-songwriter Pearl Aday, becoming a fully functioning adult, and more. And, as Newsday’s David Criblez points out, his memoir comes with a comic book in the center.

JoePerrycover,jpegIn Rocks (Simon & Schuster), Aerosmith lead guitarist Joe Perry paints an insider’s portrait of the rock-and-roll family, featuring everyone from Steven Tyler and Jimmy Page to Alice Cooper, Bette Midler to Chuck Berry, John Belushi to Al Hirschfeld. He takes us behind the scenes at unbelievable moments such as his appearance with Tyler in the movie “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” (they act out the murders of Peter Frampton and the Bee Gees). Jimmy Page said of Rocks: “Rocking Joe Perry ‘rocks’ again!”

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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22. PEN American Center to Auction Off Special Annotated Books From 61 Authors

61 authors and 14 artists have made annotations to some of their most beloved works for the First Editions/Second Thoughts (FEST) auction. The funds from this venture will benefit the PEN American Center.

The writers added in features to first edition copies of their books such as notes, essays, sketches, photos, and letters to the reader. The artists had a choice of re-making either a monograph or an important art piece.

All of the artwork and annotated books will be put on public display at Christie’s New York starting November 17th. The auction itself will take place on December 2nd.

The New York Times has an exclucisve video starring Robert A. Caro, Paul Auster, and Jane Smiley who talk about the experience of re-reading their own books (embedded above). Click here to watch another video for more details about the auction event.

(more…)

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23. Wear a Writer’s Moustache For Movember

scribando

November means Thanksgiving, NaNoWriMo, and Movember!

The executives behind the Scribando website supports this global men’s health movement by encouraging writers to take part. The company has created a special sheet of cut-out moustaches.

The authors who inspired this project include The Jungle Book novelist Rudyard KiplingThe Glass Menagerie playwright Tennessee Williams, Ripostes poet Ezra Pound, Sherlock Holmes series author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and The Raven writer Edgar Allan PoeFollow this link to download the sheet and pose as the writer of your choice.

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24. RosettaBooks pubs “Click Lit,” with “Find Me I’m Yours”

FindMeI'mYourscoverIts creators call it Click Lit and you can see the appeal. In the new rom-com Find Me I’m Yours from RosettaBooks, 24-year-old Mags works for an online bridal magazine and has just discovered her lug of a boyfriend is cheating on her. Into her life drops a mysterious hunk, aka Mr. WTF, looking for love and leaving clues all over LA. “Find me … I’m yours,” he breathes.

CNN has called Find Me I’m Yours “the book of the future,” and Today.com said, “A new way to read… [Find Me I'm Yours] is not merely a book — its characters inhabit an entire universe that includes nearly three dozen standalone websites, online video series, real-world magazines and more.”

You get to help Mags search for her hunkalicious soul mate via links to several interactive custom-designed narrative platforms that augment the storyline and invite readers to post their own images, art, videos, and stories. These incorporate 33 websites (including a functioning site for Mags’ employer Bridalville and Freak4MyPet.com, where her ex is posting pix of Mags’ dogs and you can pop in your pooch, too), Instagram accounts, ten videos of Mr. WTF’s clues, and more.

Created, written, and designed by award-winning author and digital innovator Hillary Carlip, and co-created, directed, and produced by Golden Globe-winning and Emmy-nominated TV comedy triple-hyphenate Maxine Lapiduss, Find Me I’m Yours was designed to be a page-turner novel, multimedia click fest, and as noted by Alexandra Alter in the New York Times, “a vehicle for content sponsored by companies.”

It’s not Vespa or Red Bull, two brands mentioned in Find Me I’m Yours, but the makers of Sweet’N Low, Cumberland Packing Corp, that jumped in first. Steven Eisenstadt, chief executive of Cumberland, told the Times he was excited about his company’s products being part of the story, rather than delivering the message through an outright ad.

Alter writes, “If it succeeds, it could usher in a new business model for publishers, one that blurs the lines between art and commerce in ways that are routine in TV shows and movies but rare in books.”

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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25. Barack Obama to Honor 3 Writers With the Presidential Medal of Freedom

President Barack ObamaPresident Barack Obama (pictured, via) will present 19 individuals with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

According to the White House blog, this award is considered to be “our Nation’s highest civilian honor.” The people within this group work in a broad range of fields such as activism, art, politics, science, and of course writing.

The authors who have been recognized with this award include Isabel Allende, Tom Brokaw, and Marlo Thomas. A ceremony will be held at the White House on November 24, 2014.

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