Category Archives: Uncategorized

I guess I could just post other people’s tweets…

>Something has got to be done.

>”Something has got to be done about this practice of publishing authors’ photographs. We have to submit to it, because editors and publishers insist. They have an extraordinary superstition that it helps an author’s sales. The idea is that the public sees the photograph, pauses spell-bound for an instant, and then with a cry of ecstasy rushes off to the book-shop and buys copy after copy of the gargoyle’s latest novel.” — P. G. Wodehouse


In the end, I think this will hurt Amazon and the Kindle more than anyone.  I realize there are points to be made on each side, but Amazon's action turns me off. (Aside to free marketers and libertarians: yes, we do understand the Amazon has the right and the freedom to stop carrying any products they choose, just as we each have the right to use, Powell's, brick & mortar, etc, as well as the right to bitch and moan when our favorite companies stop sell stuff we want to buy from them. There is no debate on this point. I hope that clears it up for those of you who pose yourselves, rhetorically anyway, as being "confused" on this issue.)

As Scalzi wrote, "If nothing else, this bit of asshattery on the part of Amazon has well and truly cured me of any desire to ever get a Kindle."

I did consider a Kindle. The only reason I haven't bought an ereader the this point is that I've been waiting for the field to settle down (don't feel the need to pay premium rates to an early adopter) and I have about a hundred unread books at home now. 

Regardless of the details of the debate, I hope other publishers push back on Amazon, and give Amazon the choice to strip their site of all major book publishers. Sure they can squeezed them one at a time, but how long can they afford to punish everybody. I doubt Amazon intends the punishment of Macmillan to last long, Amazon is losing revenue here too.


>Books Read 2009

>The Laurel Balzac Reader – Balzac
The White Tiger – Aravind Adiga
Just After Sunset – Stephen King
Dreams of My Father – Barack Obama
Save the Cat – Blake Snyder
Realms: The First Year of Clarkesworld Magazine
Here Comes Everybody – Clay Shirkey
Is Shakespeare Dead? – Mark Twain
Who is Mark Twain? – Mark Twain
Superhero: The Secret Origin of a Genre – Peter Coogan
The Lost Princess of Oz – Baum
The Tin Woodman of Oz – Baum
Was Superman a Spy? – Brian Cronin
Shakespeare’s Unorthodox Biography – Diana Price
Two Noble Kinsmen – Shakespeare & John Fletcher
Resolution – Robert B. Parker
Walden – Thoreau
The End of Overeating – David Kessler
The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World – Lewis Hyde
Stein on Writing – Sol Stein
Where Water Comes Together With Other Water – Raymond Carver
Saturday – Ian McEwan
Even the Wicked – Lawrence Block
How to Grow A Novel – Sol Stein
Killing Castro – Lawrence Block
A Diet of Treacle – Lawrence Block
Pump Six and Other Stories – Paolo Bacigalupi
A Distance Mirror – Barbara W. Tuchman
Shakespeare: The World As Stage – Bill Bryson
Get Out of Your Mind & Into Your Life – Steven C. Hayes
Rumpole and the Reign of Terror – John Mortimer
Rumpole Misbehaves – John Mortimer
The Happiness Trap – Russ Harris
Everybody Dies – Lawrence Block
Gulf Music – Robert Pinsky
Poems from the Poet’s Corner – John Lithgow (ed.)
Letters to a Young Poet – Rainer Maria Rilke
The Princess Bride – William Goldman
Stop This Man! – Peter Rabe
The Best American Essays 2008 – Adam Gopnik (ed.)
Books – Larry McMurtry
Complete Plays – Christopher Marlowe
Shakespeare & Co. – Stanley Wells
Hope to Die – Lawrence Block
The Magic of Oz – Baum
All the Flowers Are Dying – Lawrence Block
Sixty Stories – Donald Barthelme
The 50th Law – 50 Cent & Robert Green
The Deep-Blue Goodbye – John D. MacDonald
Bright-Sided – Barbara Ehrenreich
Maske:Thaery – Jack Vance
Eating Animals – Foer
Problem Solving – Ken Watanabe
Gun Fight – Richard Matheson
The Adderall Diaries – Stephen Elliot
Thebes of the Hundred Gates – Robert Silverberg
The Wordy Shipmates – Sarah Vowell
The Autobiography 1872-1914 – Bertrand Russell
Forty Stories – Donald Barthelme
Best American Crime Reporting 2007
How I Write – Janet Evanovich
Under the Dome – Stephen King
Visions of Death – J.D. Robb
Cymbeline – Shakespeare
(31 nonfiction. 34 fiction, poetry & drama. 65 total, 7 more than last year.)

Wanna know how many markets pay at least 5 cents a word for genre fiction?

Plenty. More than ever. The Scalzi-initiated genre short-story pay discussion got me thinking of this list I made a few months ago. Of course there are even more now, like Lightspeed and And some that pay almost as well as pro (and always run pro-level work) like Weird Tales and the EscapePod gang. Some of these take only fantasy, some only sf, or horror some only stories under 4000 words, some are closed part of the year, but you get the idea. There were about half this many four years ago. All of these read unsolicited work from anyone. The top three respond in about a WEEK each. There's really no reason not to  make a list like this for yourself, and start as near the top of this list as individual guidelines allow. I hope all this seems obvious, but I've recently been made aware that this might not be the case. A lot of these take electronic submissions, there is not even the excuse of "wasted postage" to fall back on any more. You work hard on your stories; at least give them a chance in that marketplace. You're too busy writing new stuff to worry about how long it will take to cycle a story through a dozen or two dozen paying markets. Just make your list: put high paying, fast responding, free (meaning no postage, no printing of a hard copy, costs) markets that publish your genre at the top. Keep each story in the mail at all times, even if it means skipping a market that, say, is closed for the next two weeks, or doesn't let you submit two stories at a time.

After this, submit to any markets you want to, or trunk the story if you want to, there are plenty of differing opinions on that, (I would never be one to slag on a market because of its pay rate — a quick look at my bibliography should illustrate that) but the other stuff I'm saying here is pretty much standard advice. In cover letters, don't list a credit for no better reason than that you have a credit. It's usually safe to list pro or near-pro credit if you have two or three. Regarding what to put in cover letters: "when in doubt, leave it out," is not a bad rule.

But I think if you just make your list, and stick to your list, it will allow your story to slip past many episodes of self-doubt. You don't want to have to think about where to send you story next, and how disappointing your last rejection is. Before the days of common electronic submissions, I always, always, had the manila envelope addressed and the cover letter written to the next market for each story BEFORE it came back. It's fun tearing those up when you finally make a sale. In fact, right now, I have two draft emails in my gmail, both with cover letters written and documents attached. As soon as those stories come back I am ready to go. My fastest turnaround after a rejection is eleven minutes, and I have prepped these two so that I can beat that.

Making a list and following it top to bottom is the most efficient way to manage this time-consuming task. You want to be writing new stuff, better stuff, (you are trying always, first and foremost, to get better, right?) and not thinking about the fate of your finished stories.

Intergalactic Medicine Show
Realms of Fantasy
FUTURISMIC (well, $200 flat fee so equals pro rate for a story under 5k)
Interzone/Black Static/Crimewave

Beneath Ceaseless Skies

All these were easily found via Duotrope. I encourage everyone to use and also report back to Duotrope. I find their stats on things like real response time on submissions (and the very valuable stats on which markets kinda forget to respond submissions a lot of the time) invaluable, and they'd be even better if more people used them. It's a site I send donations to as often as I can. It's been a huge help to me. But an account is free.

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“and held correct opinions during the War”

Principia Mathmatica being finished, I felt somewhat at a
loose end. The feeling was delightful, but bewildering, like coming out of
prison. Being at the time very much interested in the struggle between the
Liberals and the Lords about the Budget and the Parliament Act, I felt an
inclination to go into politics. I applied to Liberal Headquarters for a
constituency, and was recommended to Bedford. I went down and gave an address
to the Liberal Association, which was received with enthusiasm. Before the
address, however, I had been taken into a small back room, where I was
subjected to a regular catechism, as nearly as I remember in the following

Q. Are you a member of the Church of England?

A. No, I was brought up as a Nonconformist. 

Q. And have remained so?

A. No, I have not remained so.

Q. Are we to understand that you are an agnostic?

A. Yes, that is what you must understand.

Q. Would you be willing to attend church occasionally?

A. No, I should not.

Q. Would your wife be willing to attend church occasionally?

A. No, she would not.

Q. Would it come out that you are an agnostic?

A. Yes, it probably would come out.

In consequence of these answers, they selected as their
candidate Mr. Kellaway, who became Postmaster General, and held correct
opinions during the War. They must have felt that they had had a lucky escape.

— The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell, 1872-1914



You can go to Clarion; yes you can.

Unless you've been, then you can't. My only sorrow is that Samuel R. Delany didn't teach there my year.* Don't live with the fuckin' pangs of fuckin' sorrow. Go to Clarion.




Robert Trevelyan, bookish person.

Back to posting semi-random paragraphs from stuff I’m reading:

“Bob Trevelyan was, I think, the most bookish person that I have ever known. What is in books appeared to him interesting, whereas what is only real life was negligible. Like all the family, he had a minute knowledge of the strategy and tactics concerned in all the great battles of the world, so far as these appear in reputable books of history. But I was staying with him during the crisis of the battle of the Marne, and as it was Sunday we could only get a newspaper by walking two miles. He did not think the battle sufficiently interesting to be worth it,because battles in mere newspapers are vulgar. I once devised test question which I put to many people to discover whether they were pessimists. The question was: “If you had the power to destroy the world, would you do so?” I put the question to him in the presence of his wife and child, and he replied: “What? Destroy my library? Never!” He was always discovering new poets and reading their poems out aloud, but he always began deprecatingly: “This is not one of his best poems.” Once when he mentioned a new poet to me, and said he would like to read me some of his things, I said: “Yes, but don’t read me a poem which is not one of his best.” This stumped him completely, and he put the volume away.” — The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell 1872-1914.


Writing on the wall (hanging).

I found a bamboo scroll with Chinese characters on it in a thrift store once. I hung it on my wall; it still hangs there. From time to time someone will ask me what it means, but I don't know. One person was particularly obsessed with this, saying "how do you know it's not something bad?" I said "I doubt some company makes decorative curses as home furnishings, but whatever. " The matter did not rest there, you'd think it would, but anyway that person doesn't come over anymore. Now I've thought of a better answer. The next time someone asks, I'll just say, "people fear what they don't understand."

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A really good poem by Ben Jonson.

Inviting a Friend to Supper

by Ben Jonson

grave sir, both my poor house and I
equally desire your company;
that we think us worthy such a guest,
that your worth will dignify our feast
those that come; whose grace may make that seem
which else could hope for no esteem.
is the fair acceptance, sir, creates
entertainment perfect, not the cates.
you shall have, to rectify your palate,
olive, capers, or some better salad
the mutton; with a short-legged hen,
we can get her, full of eggs, and then
and wine for sauce; to these, a coney
not to be despaired of, for our money;
though fowl now be scarce, yet there are clerks,
sky not falling, think we may have larks.
tell you of more, and lie, so you will come:
partridge, pheasant, woodcock, of which some
yet be there; and godwit, if we can;
rail and ruff, too. Howsoe'er, my man
read a piece of Virgil, Tacitus,
or of some better book to us,
which we'll speak our minds, amidst our meat;
I'll profess no verses to repeat;
this, if aught appear which I not know of,
will the pastry, not my paper, show of.
cheese and fruit there sure will be;
that which most doth take my muse and me
a pure cup of rich Canary wine,
is the Mermaid's now, but shall be mine;
which had Horace or Anacreon tasted,
lives, as do their lines, till now had lasted.
nectar, or the Thespian spring
all but Luther's beer to this I sing.
this we will sup free, but moderately;
we will have no Poley or Parrot by;
shall our cups make any guilty men,
at our parting we will be as when
innocently met. No simple word
shall be uttered at our mirthful board
make us sad next morning, or affright
liberty that we'll enjoy tonight.


Books Read 11/19/2007 – 12/31/2008

Does not include volumes I gave up on, nor books I reread in this time period. Nor does it include magazine & website short fiction read. 23 works of fiction, 2 poetry, 78 books total: 

The China Study   Colin Campbell (see note at bottom).

Letters to a Young Contrarian   Hitchens (made me wish I was braver and more intellectually honest).
The Way of the Superior Man    David Deida
Free as in Freedom    Sam Williams
Becoming Vegan    
The Art of Money Getting    P.T. Barnum
Understanding Comics    Scott McCloud
Vegan Freak    Bob Torres and Jenna Torres
How to Be Idle    Hodgekinson
Unmarketable    Anne Elizabeth Moore
Making Comics    Scott McCloud
Rules of the Game    Neil Strauss
On Becoming Fearless    Arianna Huffington (meh, suprisingly unsubstantial. I still love Arianna though.)
The Republic    Plato
Ode to Kirihito    Osamu Tezuka (medical-genre manga from the creator of Astro-Boy)
Your Best Poker Friend    Alan Schoonmaker (I've stopped playing now.)
Healthy at 100    John Robbins
Born Standing Up    Steve Martin
The Freedom Manifest     Hodgekinson
Free Culture    Lawrence Lessig (Read a lot of "copyfight" type books this year.)
The Pickwick Papers    Dickens
Things I Overheard Talking to Myself    Alan Alda (he is awesome — and he's strive to think rationally, while still maintaining an optimistic world view. This is my life's goal.)
Diablerie    Walter Mosley
The New Kings of Nonfiction    Glass  
My Own Kind of Freedom    (Firefly unauthorized fanfic) Steven Brust  
After Dark    Haruki Murakami   (I have absolutely no recollection of reading this book.)
Three Lives    Gertrude Stein (2 parts good but found Stein's attempt to write from the perspective of an African-American woman utterly unconvincing).
The Secret Life of Puppets    Victoria Nelson (pretty cool. a very broad definition of puppets, btw.
Vagabonding    Rolf Potts
The Color Out of Time    Michael Shea
The Mind of the Market    Michael Shermer
The Nine    Toobin (Best political book I read this year. About the Supreme Court from Reagan era through Gore v. Bush and now.)
Traitor to the Living    Philip Jose Farmer
80/10/10 Diet    D. Graham

Bernard Malamud: A Writer's Life 
by Philip Davis

The Land of Oz    Baum (I never read these as a kid. I missed out. They kick ass.)
Ozma of Oz    Baum
Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz    Baum
Selected Speechs, Messages, and Letters of Lincoln (Rinehart)
The Road to Oz    Baum
The Emerald City of Oz    Baum
The Patchwork GIrl of Oz    Baum
Tik-Tok of Oz    Baum
Old Flames/Right to Life    Jack Ketchum 
Team of Rivals    Doris Kearns Godwin (Best book on this list.)
From Idea to Story in 90 Seconds    Ken Rand (not as useful as "10% Solution" for me.
Devil May Care    Sebastian Faulks  "writing as Ian Fleming." (Set in 1969, a respectable job.)
Manhunt    James L. Swanson
The Scarecrow of Oz    Baum
Rinkitink in Oz    Baum
Learned Optimism    Seligman (Very Good)
Comic Wars    Dan Raviv
Nobody Runs Forever    Richard Stark
Ask the Parrot    Richard Stark
Authentic Happiness    Martin Seligman
Dirty Money    Richard Stark
The One Percent Doctrine    Ron Suskind
The Trouble with Poetry and Other Poems   Billy Collins
The Innocent Man    John Grisham (nonfiction). (For some reason, Grisham focuses on the least interesting and least tragic of three men who were all sentenced for murders they didn't commit in one bad year in one badly-run town.

The Dark Side    Jane Mayer
Hit and Run    Lawrence Block (Disappointing entry in an otherwise excellent series.)

The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You'll Ever Need    Daniel H. Pink & Rob Ten Pas   (7 Principles — Talk about padding!)

Ballistics    Billy Collins
Tribes    Seth Godin (meh. I'm over these "guru" guys. I think the only way to suceed using their prinicples and to become an time management guru, motivational speaker, or marketing evangelist yourself.)
Schulz and Peanuts    David Michaelis   (Excellent biography.)
Copyright's Paradox    Neil Weinstock Netanel  
How Fiction Works    James Wood (Sometimes illuminating, entirely enjoyable little book on the elements of fiction, especially the novel since Flaubert.
A Long Line of Dead Men  Lawrence Block

Of these, one book, The China Study by T. Colin Campbell changed my life. discusses the
findings of the best, most comprehensive, rigorous, studies ever done
on human nutrition. illuminating on a lot of reasons the government
hasn't managed to support or educate on good nutrition. Though
Campbell is a vegan, he grew up in a ranching family before becoming a
medical doctor and researcher. he strives to keep his reporting
rational and only to assert what the evidence indicates. If nothing
else it's a great book about the politics of food and the politics of
scientific research. If you wants some facts, but are skeptical and
suspect veganism is new-age magical-thinking frou-frou that you don't
want any part of, give this book a chance, and you might be suprised. I


Joe McCain Apologizes For Cursing At 911 Operator

He apologizes for swearing, but not for the real abuse, namely the abuse of the 911 emergency number for his personal complaining. He still doesn’t get it, does he?
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost