Archive for August, 2013

Revision – Week Ending August 16

19 Aug


The weeks most interesting news; for writers.

1. The Pen Is Still Mightier Than The Sword
This may come as no surprise but writing has the power to connect with people at a deep level and convince them to do (or buy) things they normally wouldn’t… like convincing them to buy deodorant because they stink.
As novelists I hope you are all using your power for good.

2. Internet Killed The Newspaper Star
…And then bought it out.
You may have read this one already, but Amazon’s Bezos has purchased The Washington Post for $250 million dollars (just a drop in his 25 billion dollar fortune of course).

+ From the New Yorker

+ Bezos Addresses His New(s) Minions

+ At a quarter of a billion dollars, the Post scored better than The New York Times, who sold the Boston Globe for only $70 million a week earlier.

3. The Movie Script Hamster Wheel
Steven Spielberg predicts that ‘bigger than life’, super blockbusters will cause hollywood to implode. Considering the tanking of several very expensive movies this summer, he may be right. Script Doctor Damon Lindelof on modern screenwriting and both the danger and draw of escalating scripts in Hollywood.

+ It’s okay though, TV will be there to pick up the pieces when the movie industry does implode. I have to admit, some of my favourite writing lately has been on TV.

4. Can Someone Pass The Ketchup? Whoops…
I was 7 or 8 years old when I first watched The Attack of The Killer Tomatoes. I remember, as I watched the movie again later that night (back in the cable company days when the 9 o’clock movie was also the 11 and 1 o’clock movie) trying to figure out why adults would make such terrible movies.
I’m not sure I ever figured it out, but I was hooked and ended up consuming every ‘Attack of’ type movie available before I was a teenager: tomatoes, 50 foot women, ants, various japanese monsters, even yogurt… at least I think it was yogurt! I watched, and loved them all.
Recently I heard that the Tomatoes were looking at a modern reboot. So, to prepare you for this eventuality, you can read the oral history of the franchise here.
If they do release a new film don’t watch it at the theatre though, this is the sort of movie best viewed late at night in the dark of your basement, eating ketchup chips (just to show them you are not afraid!)

5. Support Your Local Bookstore… Now Online
I love crowdsourcing/crowdfunding. I think it brings back many aspects of ‘community’ that we have lost over the past 150+ years of industrialized life. I’ve supported numerous projects on Kickstarter (7 so far) and even have a couple of projects of my own that I’m considering putting out there.
I have noticed a growing trend in businesses looking towards crowdfunding to supplement their bricks and mortar locations in some way (from launching restaurants to upgrading old theatres with digital equipment) but this is the first time I’ve come across bookstores looking for help from the crowd. While it’s unfortunate that these owners need this kind of help, I’m glad to see them experimenting with new technology and I’m sure we’ll see more of this moving forward.

6. Options For Writers
Josh Bearman and Josh Davis are long form magazine writers. They have also optioned 18 of their articles to the movie industry. Now they are launching Epic Magazine, a site designed to help give non-fiction writers a platform for their work. Read more here.

7. Coffee: It Is The Best Of Drinks, It Is The Worst Of Drinks
A surprising news month would be one where there are no new studies on the effects of coffee on the human body. As a writer, I need Teh Coffee to stay focused when energy lags, but then, I said the same thing when I worked corporate! This week’s news is on the ill effects of our favourite brew.
My motto is: All things in moderation.

+ But how do we become addicted to caffeine in the first place (sweet ambrosia of the Gods)?

8. Finding Time To Write

9. Multi-Tasking. You Too Can Fail At More Things, Faster.
I’m not sure how the whole ‘cult of multi-tasking’ began, but it needs to die. Certainly, there are times when being able to juggle 10 things are immensely useful (trust me, I have 4 kids and we homeschool!) but these moments should be the exception, not the rule.
Too many people like to brag about their multi-tasking prowess now-a-days, but the truth is: There are costs associated with multi-tasking. First, and most obvious, if you are working on more than 1 thing simultaneously you aren’t really doing a very good job at either. Second, most people don’t think about the ‘switching costs’; like a train that has to switch from one track to another, your brain requires effort and resources to shift tracks too… and that takes time. I can go on… but I’ll save it for another post!
BTW: If you click through on this link, check out the whole series of posts – worth the read

+ Don’t just take it from me, there are many, many articles online attempting to correct the benefits of multi-tasking myth.

10. Hodgepodge

+ On Life, From Chris Kutcher. Er… Ashton Kutcher
I love to hear, or read, thoughtfully distilled wisdom. You should always take the time to hear messages like this. (warning: video quality is terrible on this upload… but the audio is great and that’s what really matters.)

+ On connecting with others through honest writing

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Revision – Week Ending August 2

02 Aug


The weeks most interesting news; for writers.


1. Judge These Books by Their Covers

How difficult is it to distill down the most iconic book face north of 40? Not very, just let the crowd decide for you.

Personally I think ‘The Sister’s Brothers” is one of the most iconic covers I’ve ever seen, but it was knocked out in the 3rd bracket.

I will be completely shocked if Anne of Green Gables wins… (and because the medium of writing often fails to impart any sense of tone, please forgive me tacking on: that was sarcasm!)


2. Catfishing – Internet Trolling or Intense Character Research?

I have always read whatever I could find on cross-media efforts (transmedia), especially by/for writers. I believe the future of writing will include the internet in a major way, and I’m not just talking epub versions of your book. The internet can offer a number of ways to expand your universe, or flesh out your main characters.

In an ironic twist on that newer idea, the young social introvert in this narrative came to writing via an early life of trolling. If he ever writes a novel I’ll bet the characters will be fantastic.


3. Who Do You Love?

Luke or Vader; Solo or Fett; Sherlock or Moriarty; Potter or that noseless guy who shall not be named? Without memorable villains hero’s run the risk of falling flat. The CBC has a great interview with Chuck Klosterman on his new book ‘I wear the Black Hat’.

I’ve always preferred great villains over great hero’s and can’t wait to read this book.



4. Love at first sight…

When I buy a new book, I always open it up (as I’m sure almost ever real reader does) and read a few passages to get a feel for the authors cadence and tone. But never the first page. I save that pleasure for later, when there is time to settle into a comfortable chair where I can savour the opening passage a few times without distraction.

Writers love to discuss first lines, and the Atlantic has collected a number of favourites.


+ The rest of the conversation with Stephen King on the power and importance of first lines.


5. Breaking In Can Be as Tough as Breaking Out

I’ve always wanted to go to ComiCon… <sigh>

Unfortunately that will have to wait for another year. Yes, I’m a geek at heart, but this article which is essentially a roving exposition on one writers ComiCon experience has some really great content. Read especially, the section: Breaking In. While they are talking more specifically about screenwriting, the information, I believe, is valid for all writers.

Hollywood is not barred to talent, but there is no single path to get there. Or, from screenwriter Jonathan Callan:

“Breaking into Hollywood I like breaking out of prison. As soon as someone figures out a new way to do it, they seal up that hole.” (An old Hollywood saying)


+ From another writer interview – I love this quote:

“Getting a book deal is a little like getting hit by lightening. You can’t predict where it will strike, but you can build a better lightening rod.”


+  Fishing for Agents

Another look at breaking in; sort of… in a sort of perfect world variety.


6. Can I Borrow Your Voice?

There is plenty of information available that dictates how writers should find their voice and then write within it. I’ve always though that was terrible advice.

I really don’t think anyone has the ability to write anything in someone else’s voice: even when trying to emulate the voice of your hero, the finished product will come out sounding like you.

Voice isn’t A Thing you can learn, it’s simply the sum of your previous reading and writing experience coming to a head. I believe that voice and talent are intrinsically linked. Some peoples brains can pull it all together, others are not so lucky.

In this Globe & Mail interview,  Rhidian Brook backs up my theory. “You either have a voice, or you don’t”


+ What’s in your voice? Everything. Since everyone is talking about the new Rowling novel now, here’s a related article on how a forensic linguist figured out who the real author was using the books voice.


+ And finally… what’s in your voice specifically? This is the free software that was used to point at Rowling. I’m thinking it would be a handy tool for writers to play around with. You could analyze your favourite authors works or your own. Look for patterns, see your own weak points; grow your own voice.


7. Galbraith is Rowling… Can We Come Back to Earth Now?

Rowling has a problem that 99.9% of writers will never have, but wished they would: a lack of anonymity. Everything she writes will always carry a set of expectations that will inevitably colour any reviews of her future work. Of course, whether the reviews are good or bad, she will be widely read, so it’s only her feelings that are at risk.

Perhaps I’m just too cynical to care, but I’m glad the mystery has been solved so we can get on with other interesting book news, like, um, the Booker Prize longlist perhaps?


8. Man Booker Prize

Frustrated with Mounting Rejection for your manuscript?

Meet the book that was rejected more than 30 times … and just made the longlist for the Man Booker Prize


+Views from Canada


9. I’ve rewritten this subheading 13 times

Editing your work can be tough. Asking other peoples opinions can be tough to take. Buck up and use some of these tips.


10. Final Thoughts 

+ Writer Interviews

Maggie Nelson, over at BookSlut


+ Did I mention that I was a geek?

Samurai, film, book, art… all the makings of a good obsession.


+ The original novel the new 47 Ronin movie was based on.


+ While I think everyone has to find their own process that works only for them, I love peeking in at other writers processes. Sometimes I shake my head, sometimes I laugh, sometimes my mouth drops open as a fundamental truth settles into my own brain.


+ When I was young I thought I could write an original novel. I grew frustrated and walked away from fiction writing for a long time. It was only after I realized that stealing other peoples ideas was par for course that I got excited about writing again.

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