Monday, July 30, 2012


An idle thought, but if one does not own an e-reader, one does have an excuse for not purchasing the e-book that everyone one meets seems to have "published" on Amazon. Just sayin'.

Plus, here is an excellent way to destroy a valuable and interesting career:

Hope he knows how to make fries.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Man Booker Longlist.

It's out! The longlist for the 2012 Man Booker, and for once I haven't read any of them. Research to be done:

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


New Tana French book out today! Broken Harbor! Plus, simultaneous audiobook release. I'm already four hours into it. Great story, great mystery, great writing, Irish narrators. So much win!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Vague Late-Night Idea.

Hey, I'm old. 9:15 p.m. is late to me.

What if all writers and would-be writers pledged a certain page count of reading to be done every day? Not my hundred pages, necessarily, because other people have jobs and children and pets and friends, but fifty or twenty or ten. A good thing, I think.

Oh, and the book I was on about and finally finished was James Patterson's (via Mark Sullivan) Private Games. I think this book was written in a month and Mr. Sullivan did not enjoy the process. I think this book must have been written to sabotage Mr. Patterson's book mill— much as the plot involves the demolition of the modern Olympic games— out of contempt for what the games have become.

I refuse to believe this book was written this way on purpose.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Speaking of Paid Reviews...

The Kirkus Indie Review service will run you $425. $575 for express service. Here is a review for one of the most successful self-published books of the year (so I am informed). See if you can spot the bit in this review that made me laugh out loud:

For that kind of money the author should be able to proof-read the review before it is posted.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Self-Publishing Ramble.

But first, the Relay went great, thanks for asking. I came third in lap count and got a (virtual) trophy. In twenty-four hours I ran the equivalent of 210 miles. I also watched the entire Harry Potter movie series while this went on, and made a discovery:  I had always been annoyed at Harry in the last three movies. He seemed whiny and incapable of seeking help. Having seen the movies all in series, I have transferred my annoyance to Dumbledore. He scarcely seemed to be the same character from one scene to the next, to say nothing of one movie to the next. If I had been Harry showing up in the otherworldly King's Cross, I'd have punched him in the face.


So this is happening today:  a pay-for-love review site has been exposed for what it is, and they aren't happy:

I struggle with the idea of self-publishing. Well, no, I don't; I don't like it with fiction, and that gets me in trouble. But I don't want my work going down a path I don't follow as a reader and a book buyer. I only buy self-published books written by friends. There are just too many books to read even if you're only reading the award winners, the new books by known writers, and the well-reviewed books from new writers. Heck, I just subscribed to the New York Review of Books like an idiot, and I have a four-foot stack of to-be-read books right now. And then there's the preview list for the second half of 2012 from The Millions...


So I am not out browsing for random self-published books. Even if I were, frankly, I am a damn picky reader. My mother sent me a book recently (I'll review when I finish it), thinking it would be an easy read because it's a big commercial thriller. Well, no, it isn't easy, because the writing is distractingly poor. Some of the sentences...

I can't read indifferent writing. And what do I fear in spending ten or twenty bucks for a novel that the writer alone feels is worthy of being published? Right. Indifferent writing. And I don't want to send my own baby floating down that river.

Self-publishing has developed into a dark twin of commercial publishing, with writers sending themselves on "book tour," calling local bookstores trying to arrange signings, and outfits like the one above selling glowing reviews for a hundred bucks a throw. Over on the Bewares and Background Checks forum on Absolute Write, this is called "Published Author, the Role-Playing Game." I don't want to play. And, as in the realm of screenwriting, I loathe the people that are getting rich helping others pretend. Or worse, fooling them into thinking this is the real thing.

I hope most writers are choosing this deliberately. As I've been told repeatedly, it's hard to get an agent, so why not? But shouldn't it be hard to get an agent if your work isn't there yet? Why would you still want your book out there if that's the case?

Sigh. I don't know. I can't even get a "no thanks" out of the last agent I queried and am soon to put that book on the shelf while I start the next (once I get the tile guys out of my house). I don't query enough, I know, and am easily discouraged.

Can I somehow convince myself I'm wrong and I should put the new book, the old book, and the next book out myself? Will that be giving up on what was the goal?

What's the right thing here?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Strangest Scheduling Cheat Ever.

There may be a slight cheat in the resolution this weekend. Reading one hundred pages per day? I may massage the required two hundred Saturday/Sunday pages just a bit, because:


This Saturday and Sunday are the Relay for Life of Second Life. Yes, this is the big fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. Last year it raised $375,000. This year $400K? Who knows.

I haven't mentioned it much here, but Second Life is a virtual world where I operate several businesses and make actual real money. I first joined in 2007, the day after I sold the book. I thought I'd just use SL to promote the book, but, well, things happen. One of those things was my first Relay. Now I wouldn't miss it. Last year I was #10 on the list of "Most Laps Completed." This year, more laps!

In short, I may have to shove some of Saturday's reading off onto Sunday, if I can stay awake Sunday. The Relay starts at seven in the morning Hawaii time and ends, logically, at seven in the morning on Sunday. I shall be watching all the Harry Potter movies in the interval.

Anyone wanting to join in, please do. I shall be the glittery, glowing purple squid avatar. My name in SL is Rusalka Writer. Don't be a stranger.

That has to be the oddest post in the history of this blog.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Say What You Will...

...about the rest, but the review of Gravity's Rainbow is a riot:

Monday, July 9, 2012

So. All This Reading...

Did a bit of math last night. Assuming the average book page has 250 words, and I'm going through at one hundred pages a day, not counting extra reading and audiobooks, just how much reading am I doing?

Note that I give myself two weeks or so off for the Santa Barbara Writers Conference and other travel, so let's say I'm going to read 35,000 pages this year.

That is the equivalent of reading the bible every month, month after month, year after year.

So what happens to the brain?

—I can read anywhere. I am not distracted. Reading is now Thing #1 to my brain.

—I can detect voice much, much better than ever I could before. Not only can I readily tell the difference between any two writers; I can tell the difference between early Writer X and late Writer X.

—I need to read early in the day. If I wait to read until late in the day my eyeballs fall out. I need to start reading by six in the morning. I also need to see my eye doctor more frequently. I have reading glasses, but wearing them makes me fall asleep.

—My brain is completely addicted to constant reading. I just finished Raintree County by Ross Lockridge Jr., a great American novel that is actually a great American novel. Setting out across this vast work, feeling Fitzgerald's boats beating back against the tide, I learn writing, I learn voice, I learn the story of my nation, the story of my however-many-times great grandfather Henry William Clark, corporal of Company F of the 27th Connecticut Volunteers who fought at Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg, and Gettysburg...

I learn to read again.

Sunday, July 8, 2012


Post two-fifty, apparently. Considering the year's festival of reading, there can be no better thing to say about writing than this:

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Dear Anonomi,

I do not wish to purchase Xanax, Cialis, or the like. I shall be temporarily disabling anonymous comments, if I can figure out how.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Unhappy News of a Great Mind.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


Sunday, July 1, 2012

New Genre.

I'm reading another one of these, and I'm trying to come up with a definition:

Wealthy young people* slumming in European capitols in genteel poverty**, experiencing the local culture*** while pursuing artistic endeavors**** and engaging in earnest relationships***** that turn into tragic lifetime memories******. Also, somebody dies*******.

*They don't think they're wealthy. Often they think they had a middle class upbringing. Until they explain their boarding schools, vacations, and ponies. Mummy sitting in the drawing room smoking all afternoon, for example.

**Genteel poverty in that they have small apartments in bohemian parts of town, but never have to work and never run out of cigarettes and alcohol.

***These folks live in the "real" city, and some of their best friends are locals. Mockery of the clueless foreign tourists is a necessity.

****They are painters, photographers, novelists, poets, whatever. The writers only write longhand and the artists never need supplies. Whatever they do, it never interferes with their free time.

*****Lots of sex, and sex very soon after meeting the partner(s). Remember, these are young artists.

******Because we know these relationships can't last, right? Because then it's not literature. It's a romance. Nobody wants to explain this lost summer to the grandkids.

*******Might be one of the lovely young couple, but often as not is the friend who chases the art thing a little too hard. Alcohol, drugs, random behavior, suicide, something gets him. This is the death that tells our lovers that the dream cannot last. That they may have to go home and get a job. One of the two (usually, if one is a novelist, it's that one) will succeed with the art part, but love will never be the same.

Note that this genre does not seem to work with actual poor people, particularly Americans, because they have to start paying off their student loans and can't just biff off to Europe or wherever.