A Hodgepodge of Bits & Pieces – Mid-January 2013

Posted January 22, 2013 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Hodgepodge Newsletter

In General

I’m on both sides of the book fence…ooh, I like that imagery!…I’m a voracious reader and I love writers (thank y’all very much for keeping my appetite piqued — and sometimes sated!). So the HodgePodge is all about readers and writers. Bits of news and gossip, warnings and delights that I hope will make your day brighter.

The HodgePodge is a recent idea, so I’m counting on y’all to let me know what you like and don’t like. One thing I’m wondering about is should I post these bits and pieces once a month or twice. If only to keep it from being overwhelming!

I had no idea that I kept running across so many interesting tidings; I did know it drove me nuts not to share them with y’all.

Encourage Your Kids

Jarrett J. Krosoczka (of Lunch Lady graphic novel fame) has a talk on TED about what inspired him to write. I think the “two words that made a colossal difference in his life” are important words for parents to take to heart.

I’m not one to toss compliments or accolades (hey, you’ve been reading my reviews, so you know that’s true!) where they’re not deserved, and I don’t promote doing the same with kids. Kids aren’t stupid. They know when an adult is lying to them. HOWEVER, that’s not to say parents shouldn’t promote their kids’ interests and desires. Praise their efforts in being creative.

I’ll never forget one art student I had who told me she wasn’t at all creative. All because a teacher had once told her that she couldn’t have blue grass and an orange sky. What? The teacher never heard of Kentucky blue grass or saw a sunset??. Those few words were enough to make this woman believe she wasn’t creative. Then when you read what Krosoczka says…it’s enough to make you very aware of the words you use.

Do your kids a favor. Encourage them. Keep in mind what their current level of abilities are and find the words to embolden them to continue to experiment. Even if their eventual interests don’t take them there, your appreciation and stimulation can only give them the confidence to go forward.

More Encouragement: A Dyslexic Author with More Than a Dozen Books!

Thank goodness these days are more enlightened when it comes to dyslexia. At least compared to a few decades ago. I’m hoping that reading about Sally Gardner who finally learned to read when she was 14 and is now the author of a number of books will help parents and give kids hope.

Her latest book, Maggot Moon, has won the Costa Children’s Prize.

India Was One for School Libraries

India Was One is a book I reviewed and I am delighted to hear that it has entered the final round for 2013 for inclusion in school libraries all across America.

Just for Fun

Robert Jordan’s Life

TOR.com has a video of Robert Jordan’s widow, Harriet Dougal, talking about James Oliver Rigney, Jr.’s life and how he became Robert Jordan with his Wheel of Time. I enjoyed it and thought you might too.

Outlander is a Cable-TV Series!!!!!!!

Diana Gabaldon has announced that STARZ wants to develop Outlander as a cable TV series. It’s all still in the strong possibility stages — Ron D. Moore appears to be doing the heavy lifting, and Gabaldon says she likes him, his ideas, and his suggestions. Check out her website for more information.

Shoot Out Between Rival Gangs

This is too funny…although, what does this say about the news I’m reading…?

A Scene Cut from Ilona Andrews’ Magic Rises

Click to read an Ill-Advised Rescue, Part 1 and Part 2, scenes Andrews cut from the upcoming Magic Rises, being released the end of July 2013.

Who Wrote the Meanest Book Review of 2012?

David Wagner from The Atlantic Wire has a “reassuring” post on the question as to whether book reviewers are getting too nice with samples from three vicious reviews.

Check Out Arts & Letters Daily

Michael James passed on the information about the Arts & Letters Daily, a newsletter that focuses on both art and literature. The articles are columns of teasers with links to the full post and most seem to stay available for five days or so. It looks interesting.

The editors “urge readers who see an item worth keeping to save or print it while the link is still valid” as the link may go bad after a few days. They do maintain an archive for 2012 back to 1998.

If you want to subscribe, click the
Subscribe in Mail
at the far right bottom column.

YA Explorations through the Ages

One of my worries is finding a genre or topic with which kids will fall in love. One about which they will want to read more. And Jen Doll over at the Atlantic Wire has a post on “A Literary Tour of Historic YA“. It’s a list of possibilities from Cleopatra’s daughter to Venetian mysteries, Bluff Hal’s court to the Victorian era. Yes, all history. And what better way to entice your kids into learning more about history than through fiction.

Free Kindle This Year?

Digital Book World is mentioning the possibility of a free Kindle, so keep your eyes peeled…eek!

They do mention the $13 Txter Beagle which is aimed at Android smartphone users who don’t have an eReader.

2013 Blue Peter Nominees

Martin Chilton at the Telegraph compiled a shortlist of those nominated for the 2013 Blue Peter Book Award.

2013 Edgar Nominees

The Edgar Award nominees have been announced.

Podcast with Gail Carriger

John Sellers at Publishers Weekly has a podcast with “bestselling author Gail Carriger discussing her first book for teens, Etiquette and Espionage—as well as her passions for YA literature, archeology, and silly character names worthy of Wodehouse—in this episode of PW Kidscast”.

Hey, what can I say? I enjoy Carriger’s writing and want to pass it on to y’all.

Sad Stuff

Politically Correct or?

An old peeve of mine is rearing its ugly head over in Germany. Charly Wilder has an article in Spiegel on “Redacting Racism” in which the German Family Minister Kristina Schröder wants children’s literature to be “cleaned up” to “protect [her] child from [using] such expressions”. And a children’s book publisher, Thienemann Verlag, is doing just that.

I have to disagree with this. I think it’s wrong to change stories from the past to reflect what the current generation thinks is acceptable. Whether for good or bad. What? Frau Schröder is too busy to sit down and talk to her child? To explain why such words should not be used?

Another publisher states that he had previously added a footnote explaining that certain words used in the text were no longer used, but now he’s simply removed the “unacceptable” word. Personally, I like the idea of the footnote. Keep the “offensive” word in and add a footnote that a parent can use as an opportunity to discuss why this word is considered “bad”. Just don’t change the text. Don’t change history.

We need to remain aware of our history, aware of the bad things that have happened to ensure we don’t repeat it.

Writing Tips

How to Write a Memoir

Katie Roiphe has an interesting post on writing memoirs, a.k.a., personal writing, a.k.a., confessional writing. Hmmm, doesn’t that raise up some interesting ideas? Roiphe goes on to lay it out — what the differences separate “good confessional writing from bad confessional writing”. She points out the authors who do this brilliantly as well as the ones about whom she has some suspicions as to their true motivation. LOL. She continues with what a reader is looking for, what she expects. And I like what she has to say about Joan Didion.

Even if you don’t write “confessionals”, I suspect you could pull some nuggets out of this for your own writing.

Words of a Legal Moment

A member in one of the groups to which I belong has raised a question about legal terminology. While I don’t currently see a use for these sites for myself…yet…it would be handy to have them available. Yup, not only do I enjoy passing on the interesting bits and pieces that I discover during the month, I also see this as a treasure trove of useful possibilities for myself!

Dictionary Nolo.com Plain-English definitions for legal terms
The ‘Fair Use’ Rule: When Use of Copyrighted Material is Acceptable Explains certain situations in which you can “make limited use of another’s copyrighted work without asking permission or infringing on the original copyright”.

Do be careful in this one as the rules vary from medium to medium, song to poem to text to ???

Getting Permission: How to License & Clear Copyrighted Materials Online & Off This is a book by Richard Stim, an attorney, which “tackles the permissions process head on and covers topics including the public domain, copyright research, and fair use.” Check out the link for details on what the book covers.
Wex “Provided by Legal Information Institute at the Cornell Law School.
Entries are collaboratively created and edited by legal experts.”

Geo-Location Stories

Ooh, this has my brain all a’twitter. I thought I understood what Peter Brantley over at Publishers Weekly is talking about until he got to the second to the last paragraph and then I got lost! Hmmm, how scary is that?! I get the impression that his post, “Reading a Story, Taking a Trip”, is not what I’m thinking, but, it does get me to thinking.

What if a series of mini-stories were compiled that were triggered by geo-location? Think if you and your family were on a trip and coming near a particular geographical location caused a story about that area to come to life on your iPod or iPad mini or your cellphone. It could make the trip more interesting for the kids and those adults who enjoy historical tidbits. It’d be easier than trying to read up beforehand when no one has any context for it and save the effort of hauling all those guidebooks around and trying to remember which one to look up where for what.

Nothing says it has to be only facts either. Imagine a trip to Beatrix Potter’s Lake District in England with the Tales of Peter Rabbit interspersed with recollections of morsels from Potter’s life. Or Eric Carle and his Very Lonely Firefly. Or…

The Publishing Business

Author Service Scams – Beware!

Jason Boog at Media Bistro passed on warnings from Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, on keeping your publishing costs at a reasonable cost. At worst, you will learn some of the inside costs!

Speaking of Scams…Finding an Editor

I’ve encountered so many authors who have paid others to edit or proofread their work. And I have still found so many errors in their published work. Many of these errors are inexcusable for an editor to miss!

Speaking as an editor and proofreader, do yourself a favor. Choose a minimum of three possible editors/proofreaders and send them five pages of your manuscript as an audition. It can help you decide who you will get along with as well as who catches the most errors.

Canadians Get Free ISBNs

Michael [another one!] mentioned that Canadians can apply for a free ISBN from the Library and Archives Canada. Heck, I’m movin’!

Lulu Drops DRM for eBooks

I got an email from Lulu on January 8 informing me that I would have to re-publish all the books that I’ve published through them because they are dropping the DRM, Digital Rights Management.

Then Danny O. Snow with Publishers Weekly wrote a post on Lulu’s dropping the DRM and stating that it applies to those eBooks that Lulu sells directly to consumers.

DRM is controversial as, on the one hand, it restricts buyers/borrowers from copying whatever is DRM-protected. Which is good for authors. On the negative side, including DRM also ups the cost of producing the book. On the other hand, people can’t make a backup copy. Yeah, one of those unending loops. It’s like a DVD movie that you can’t make a copy of to loan a friend or just to have as a backup when the kids play it too often.

I can see both sides. And I come down on the side of the author. Writers work hard to produce their book and shouldn’t be shafted. I dunno.

The WriteDeal Opens e-Book Store

Looks like WriteDeal may be another ePublisher some of you might want to take a look at per this quickie post at Publishers Weekly.

1,000 Publishers Listed

Brian Grove over at Perfect Pitch has a list of some 1,000 publishers on his website organized by country, then state/province, and some cities. However, I don’t know how old this listing is.

Agent Scams

Damn, Dean Wesley Smith has a lot of good info on his post. This section is a caution about agents and the need for a lawyer when negotiating a contract. Do read it for a heads-up!

CAUTION: Watch Your Digital Rights!

Dean Wesley Smith has a rather terrifying post about publishers tying down digital rights more firmly in their favor. So, be cautious. Read those contracts!

Marketing News

5 Reasons Indie Fiction is Hard to Market

Rachelle Ayala (@AyalaRachelle) wrote a guest post, “5 Reasons It’s Hard to Market Indie Fiction and What to Do About It” on Joel Friedlander’s blog, The Book Designer, and I think she has some excellent points along with tips I’ve not heard before on grabbing an audience, a different perspective on targeting your audience, getting discovered — which is separate from branding — and keeping your readers engaged.

Check it out and let me know what you think!

Smashwords/Library Implements Easy Lending

Peter Brantley over at Publishers Weekly had an exciting post, “Digital Lending, In Agreement”. Well, exciting for those of us who indulge heavily at the library. And bemoan the lack of eTitles!

The Douglas County Library system in Colorado has a gentlemen’s agreement with Smashwords through their Library Direct program through which they purchased 1,000s of indie eBook titles for lending. Califa and The Internet Archive are also seriously considering an order.

I like Brantley’s comment about the napkin-style contract!

Virtual Visits on the Rise Among Authors

I put out a quick announcement last month about Hank Green’s Carnegie Hall livestream, and it turns out he’s not alone in virtual visiting. Karen Springen at Publishers Weekly talks about other authors who are visiting kids in schools…including J.K. Rowling.

Check out Springen’s post to learn more about it.

Should You Use Your Full Name?

Over at Ether for Authors (do check out the headline and the image just below it!), one collection of posts was on choosing NOT to use the author’s full name on their publication. And it makes sense. No one believes a man could write a credible romance and no one expects a woman to write in a genre where the “main characters are male, or when it’s a genre with a strong appeal to men, like military science fiction, certain types of fantasy or gritty thrillers.” DO read the comments of those who disagree and make up your own minds. Joanna Penn has her own bit to say with two reasons as to why she’s started using her initials.

Enhanced eBooks

Digital Book World is predicting that “in the second half of this year you’re going to see a significant number of titles with robust interactivity in areas like test prep and other non-fiction categories”. So, start thinking how you can optimize that story or how-to you’re working on.

A point was made by several people in the post that the rise of tablets will make this interactivity a lot more fun.

Do check out the article about the Captain Underpants app.

Then Andrew Albanese writes about the “gamification” of interactive books in his post, “Vegetables or Candy? DBW Panel Looks at ‘Gamification’ of Children’s Books“, which looks at different types, provides an example, and discusses what makes a good enhanced eBook.

Not Selling?

Joanna Penn has a lovely page about “Help! My Book Isn’t Selling. 10 Questions You Need To Answer Honestly If You Want To Sell More Books“. Lots of good tips and suggestions.