Friday, May 29, 2009

not here

Cuz I'm GETTING TONS OF FREE BOOKS AT BEA!!!

Phew. I'm a little wound up. I'll try to work up a full report on Sunday. In the meantime, happy reading and writing, everyone!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

editing your daily life

Magickeepers: Lit Blog with Your Kids!


Merry Monteleone has an interview with the beloved children's writer Erica Kirov over on her blog today. Erica is talking about her new middle grade novel, Magickeepers: The Eternal Hourglass.

It's interactive, meaning Erica is there to answer further questions, and best yet, Merry has set the interview up to be kid-friendly. Since Erica writes for middle grade readers, she and Merry hope to blog for them, too.

Readers, writers, middle grade parents, and teachers are all welcome, too!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

back to work!

Happy Tuesday, everybody! A celebration of links.

"Le Wrath di Khan," or Star Trek as a stop-action action figure opera, complete with Italian and subtitles. Via a dear editor friend.

Over on Bookninja, a video--made in 1969--about what the internet would have to offer. 2 minutes of giggles.

Haven't had a chance to see Wolverine yet? No need--here's the whole thing in 30 seconds (watched this video for a second time this morning with the rally monkey, and we actually cried laughing).

Help bring everlasting bliss (and an awesome wedding) to Brian and his fiance, who are among three finalists for Lavender Magazine's dream wedding contest. Anyone can vote; just go here and select Brian and Benji. You can read Brian's story here.

Another one from Bookninja--have you ever had a man cold? It looks serious.

I linked to this earlier on Twitter, but for those of you who have wisely avoided Twitter: JES found a blog with the funniest fake Twitter stream ever--Pride & Prejudice & Twitter.

Via Nathan Bransford: the funniest item review on Amazon. Scroll down for the customer reviews.

Now everyone off for a productive pre-BEA week!

Monday, May 25, 2009

email of the day


[again from my assistant, who has infallible taste]

Friday, May 22, 2009

editors are scary

We had a new intern start on Tuesday; he was supposed to work Tuesdays and Fridays all summer. He arrived at the intern arrival hour on Tuesday, and left for lunch at 11:30. He never came back from lunch.

My assistant (the intern supervisor) only just noticed today, since he hasn't come in again. "I think we scared him off!" she cried. "It only took 2 hours!"

If anyone's seen an intern named Thomas wandering the streets of New York, tell him it's ok, not everyone's cut out for publishing.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

And You Thought a Royalty Involved a Crown

My mother has read and loved a particular book I edited. Last week, she asked, out of curiosity, how much money that favorite author of hers might make off the book. Well, I said, there's an advance, I said, but really what matters is royalties, but you can't just assume those are rolling in every six months, since there's a reserve against returns, but then there's rights sales that are straight pocket change, but there's a fee for the...

Her eyebrows came down into her nose and her mouth pursed fretfully as she tried to follow me. Watching these changes come over her face, I started listening to myself and the malarkey I spoke. I realized that royalty accounting must be SO mysterious to anyone unpublished. Or published. Or anyone. I realized even I didn't really know what I was talking about.

So here is my imperfect attempt to describe to you an author's possibilities for making money with her/his books. I don't claim the final word, and I welcome amendments. But I think everyone deserves to know how they might profit from their work, because it might help them make good decisions about their writing and publication processes.

Let's try to go in rough chronological order.

The Advance
What does "advance" mean:
It's money "advanced" to you against royalties, meaning it's a loan the publisher gives you in a lump sum under the assumption that your book will make enough money for said publisher that the advance will be recouped. This means that you will start earning royalties when and only if your book makes enough money that your publisher's advance to you it paid back, using your negotiated royalty percentage as a marker. If your advance is $10,000, your royalty is 10%, and your cover price is $25.00, you will need to sell 4,000 copies of your book before you start making additional royalties. This is called earnout.

How the advance is divided: Either in half of thirds--usually. If it's a smaller advance (or your agent manages to force them to agree to this), your publisher might agree to pay it in two lumps, often half on signing, half on delivery and acceptance of your final manuscript. If it's larger advance, you'll probably get a third on signing, a third on delivery and acceptance (or d&a), a third on publication.

The Royalties:
What are typical royalty percentages:
Standard royalties for new books are as follows: 10% for hardcover, 7% (or sometimes 7.5%) for trade paperback, and 5% for mass market. Often, publishers will agree to incentive escalators (usually only on hardcovers). Here's a very typical hardcover example:

10% on the first 5,000 copies sold
12.5% on the next 5,000 copies sold
15% thereafter

When royalties are paid: As we mentioned above, you'll only start earning additional royalties when your advance has earned out. Supposing your book has earned out, royalties are (at most companies) paid every 6 months, in statements that go directly to agents.

Reserve against returns: This is the reason you won't have gotten every royalty dollar you were due during a period. Your publisher has a right to retain up to a certain percentage of your royalties--the actual percentage varies on your contract and on the situation--against future returns from booksellers. Returns are pretty complicated; we've talked about them before, but they're always hard to wrap our heads around. These are big, corporate returns, not the kind of customer-by-customer returns ("My Aunt Wanda bought this cookbook for me but I don't like Russian casseroles" etc). Basically, there are scenarios wherein a publisher may print and sell 10,000 requested copies of a book to book sellers, and, if expectation was wrong, receive all 10,000 copies back, for which they'd have to relinquish the entire dollar amount they originally earned for those books. Alas for returnable industries. The reserve against returns clause gives publishers some measure of protection against total bankrupcy (since, after all, we still have to pay for printing).

This means that especially the first royalty period you have will have a dent taken out of it--the publisher's reserved cash, since in many cases it takes a lot longer than 6 months for all returns to be processed. So there will be a chunk missing, but if your book is selling through well, that money will come to you the period after. Some delayed gratification there (I never claimed it was a living wage, recall).

Rights sales:
How they get diced:
You'll earn different percentages of dollar figures depending on who retained the rights and who made the deal. I've listed some more complicated scenarios below, but basically your agent, your publisher, and a foreign co-agent may all be taking chunks out of your rights advances (which, by the way, earn out just like a regular advance). Generally, you earn the most money off of rights yur agent retained for you and then sold herself, because none of the middlepeople took a cut. That said, before you decide in an overhead contract whether to sell or retain rights, you and your agent must take an honest inventory of her outreach and labor hours, and evaluate whether you'll realistically make more money by selling rights via the corporate machine that is your originating publisher (varies on the size of the agency, usually).

When rights deal advances are paid: The good news is, rights sales wrap into your advance, so in some cases (this has happened with many of my authors) an advance can earn out on rights sales alone before the book even hits shelves.

A couple of complicated scenarios designed to illustrate some of the math
(Please note: all dollar values below are designed to make math easy, not to reflect typical advances for these kinds of sales)

Scenario 1: Your US publisher sells UK/Commonwealth rights to a British publisher for $10,000 at a 10% hardcover royalty and sell 1,000 copies, so the book only just earns out.
To note: a usual Commonwealth sale split is 60/40, meaning the author gets 60% of the sale, the publisher, who made the sale, keeps 40%

Your cash: $10,000 x .6 [your chunk after US publisher's cut] = $6,000; $6,000 x .85 [your chunk after your agent's cut] = $5,100

Scenario 2: Your US publisher retains Commonwealth rights and distributes their own edition. They sell 1,000 hardcover copies at 10 pounds a copy.
To note: Publishers usually distribute their editions to foreign countries on export terms, which involve a reduced royalty (probably 10% of net billing, or billing less expenses, on a hardcover instead of 10% of gross, or total, billing--it works out to about half).

Your cash: 1000 copies x 10 pounds per book = 10,000 GBP gross billing; 10,000 GBP x .5 [approximate net proceeds] = 5,000 GBP; 5,000 GBP at a 1.5 exchange rate (or so) = $7,500 in royalties that go straight to your advance; $7,500 x .85 [your chunk less after your agent's cut] = $6,375

[mini-lesson: the more copies you get out, the better the rights sale works for you than the distribution would have; the inverse is usually also true, unless someone way overpays an advance.]

Scenario 3: Your agent retained your Commonwealth rights, and sells them directly to a British publisher for $10,000. The book goes on to sell 1000 copies at 10 GBP and 10% royalty.


Your cash: $10,000 upfront, minus your agent's commission, so $8,500.

Scenario 4: Your agent retained your Commonwealth rights, but then your US publication didn't perform well enough that a Commonwealth publisher could afford to do their own printrun. They would have run off with a US publisher, but now it's too late for that. So no Commonwealth sale.

Your cash: $0

I hope this has been helpful. Please hit me up with questions. I'm a font of occasionally correct if generally irrelevant information.

Now that you've finished this Royalties seminar, I award you this tiara:

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

publishing light bulb jokes

Andrew Wheeler has posted a whole list of publishing light bulb jokes over on his very excellent publishing blog. You'll have to visit him for the full list, but I've plagiarized some of my favorites:

Q: How many art directors does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A. Does it HAVE to be a lightbulb?

Q. How many editors does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A. Only one; but first they have to rewire the entire building.

Q. How many managing editors does it take to change a lightbulb?
A. You were supposed to have changed that lightbulb last week!

Q. How many copyeditors does it take to change a lightbulb?
A. The last time this question was asked, it involved managing editors. Is the difference intentional? Should one or the other instance be changed? It seems inconsistent.

Q. How many marketing directors does it take to change a lightbulb?
A. It isn't too late to make this neon instead, is it?

Q. How many writers does it take to change a lightbulb?
A. But why do we have to CHANGE it?

Monday, May 18, 2009

bad parenting


funny picture of the day, stolen right from Ello

your recommendations please--mysteries set in NYC

I got a note the other day:
Dear Moonrat,

My retired father loves mystery novels set in New York City. Can you recommend any?

Thanks,

XXX

Ooo. Ouch. You got me. I don't read very much mystery.

However, I open the floor to my beloved internet friends, who read everything. Please, folks, chime in!

I will say I was *very* interested to see Soho Press's Chinatown detective series, by Henry Chang. Check out Detective Jack Yu in Chinatown Beat and Year of the Dog. I haven't read them, but they seem to have very good editorial reviews.

Others? I'll update the body (teehee) of this post with links.

**edited to add the following**

Brooklyn Noir
anthology (Akashic)--19 stories (rec by Donn Linn)

The Alienist, by Caleb Carr, set in 1896 rec by Miss Liberty)

Also The Angel of Darkness, by Caleb Carr (rec by Memory)


Gone Tomorrow
, by Lee Child (rec by Scribe and seconded by many others)

One of whom is Janet Reid, who also recommends:
Even, by Andrew Grant (debut author)
Reed Feral Coleman's Moe Praeger books
East of A, by Russell Atwood
SJ Rozan's Bill and Lydia series

Motherless Brooklyn, by Jonathan Lethem (rec by Nathan Bransford)

Bust, by Ken Bruen and Jason Starr (rec by Stuart Neville)

Lawrence Block's Matthew Scudder series, including 8 Million Ways to Die, A Walk Among the Tombstones, and When the Sacred Ginmill Closes (rec by Eric Berlin)

baka-kit recommends Lawrence Block's Bernie Rhodenbarr series, which are more witty than noir

Lethal Legacy, by Linda Fairstein, which is based around the New York Public Library (rec by Colleen)

JES recommends Doug Preston and Lincoln Child's series, which features lots of NYC ties, including to the Museum of Natural History. He also recommends F. Paul Wilson's Repairman Jack series.

Iasa recommends these authors: Richard Barth, Rex Stout, Hugh Pentecost, Carol O'Conner, Jed Rubenefield, Ed McBain, Amanda Matetsky, and Donald Westlake. (Iasa--do you have favorite exemplary titles?)

Kristan recommends Mary Higgins Clark--Kristan, any specific titles?

you gotta have friends

[on phone to typesetter]

YT: I'm sending you corrections for BOOK TITLE today. It's super important we turn these around as quickly as possible.

Typesetter: Well, I'm currently up to my ears on HUGE PROJECT for your colleague. That was due at the printer last week

YT: Well... Maybe you could, you know, find a couple hours for me.

Typesetter: [huuuuge sigh] I'll sneak you in.

YT: You're my best friend.

Typesetter: You're my b**** goddess.

YT: I'll have you know I'm choosing to take that as a compliment.

Typesetter: What else would it have been, my dear?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Spontaneous Self-Organization, or the History of American Chinese Food

This clip of Jennifer 8 Lee talking about the history of American Chinese food is awesome. The rally monkey turned off a reality TV show to come watch it with me (and then we, um, ordered some General Tso).

Thanks for the link, Paca.

just finished reading

The Book of Night Women, by Marlon James. My review here. Anyone else read it? Any thoughts?

unwanted residents

The rally monkey just squashed a 6-inch* long cockroach, which exploded into purple juicy bits all over the wall.

Times like this I just LOVE living in New York. Where did it come from?! What did we do wrong?!

Someone's having nightmares tonight. (Read: me. And now you. Since misery loves company.)

*The RM says the cockroach was two inches, maybe an inch and a half. I think he needs his vision checked.

Friday, May 15, 2009

BEA

It's nearly my favorite time of year again! The biggest American book conference is Book Expo America, BEA, which is held once a year (usually in May). The location rotates. Last year it was somewhere ridiculous like LA (ridiculous only in the sense that I couldn't go because it was too far, sob); in 2007 it was in New York; in 2006, DC; in 2005, New York. Luckily, it's in New York again this year.

I love BEA. All the industry professionals go and book themselves chock-full of meetings with agents/editors/scouts/packagers/printers, trying to make business connections. That's... not my favorite part. But here are the things I LOVE about BEA:

1) Everyone comes to town with business excuses, so that means old book friends you don't get to see very often because they live far away are suddenly here for a short weekend of lunches/drinks/parties/coffee dates.

2) HUNDREDS AND HUNDREDS OF FREE BOOKS!

It was at BEA in 2007 that I picked up a lovely galley (picked it up largely because of the gold foil on the front) of The Spanish Bow, which went on to become my very favorite book of 2007 and one of my favorites ever. I blogged about it perhaps a little too much, because eventually the author, Andromeda Romano-Lax, started stopping by *here,* and now she has her own blog and has inspired the entire Fill-in-the-Gaps movement. The moral of this story is BEA offers you great books and helps you meet new friends, even ones who live in Alaska. And you might perhaps be inspired to start a club like Fill-in-the-Gaps, which now has 62 people in it. And other side benefits. All because I went to BEA!

I'm not prosletyzing here. There are reasons for everyone that BEA might be both wonderful and horrible and a waste of time and money. But I wanted to let people who might not have heard about it know about it, and give you a run-down of my cost-benefit interpretation.

Check out the website here for a basic FAQ. Also, Yodiwan, the excellent book publicity blogger, has put together a twitter feed for people with BEA questions, #nychelp. Check out her blog post about it here.

Assuming you're a writer:

Things you would gain from coming to BEA:
-Bajillions of galleys, for free, in stacks on the floor. At least, I hope. Everyone's talking about how they're cutting back on galleys this year, but I'm not sure anyone's actually doing it. (We, for example, are, um, not. We had a great plan to cut back, and ended up taking more books than ever. But that's because our books are so awesome.)

-Bajillions of authors will be there. Big, small, children, adult, fiction, nonfiction. I thought about posting the list here, but it turned out to be 40 pages. So I'm afraid you're going to have to download the PDF from the BEA site yourself (come on, BEA-organizing people! Have we learned nothing about how little people like downloading PDFs?!). But *three* of my authors will be there. That means you have a three in a bajillion chance of catching me at a signing!

-Every American publisher and a lot of not-American publishers will be there. You'll have a chance to see us at our ugliest--tired, cranky, and sweaty, with pasted smiles on our plastic faces and our eyes rolling and glazed. But you, bright-eyed and enthusiastic, will get to survey us, put faces to imprints, and learn a lot about our respective lists. (Please see caveat below.*)

-Some booths give out free food. And/or champers. I'm insanely good at sniffing them out.

-Lots of parties, some invite-only, some open, some impromptu.

-Lots and lots of bookish friends in town. I bet if we start making a list of attendees here it will turn out old [blog] friends from this particular blog circle are all going to be in town.

-New York in late May. 'Ain't no better time or place. In my humble opinion. I have suggestions for cheap and alcoholic Sunday brunch, btw.

Things you would lose by coming to BEA:
-$$$. Let's look at the cost. A day pass is $75, a weekend pass $130 (Thanks, Sara, for the update). No one really shows up on Sunday, so you're really only getting two days out of that $130. My suggestion would be, if you're saving money, pick either Friday or Saturday, depending on when your favorite authors are. You'll probably be able to get all your business done in one day. (You will also, frankly, be exhausted.)

-travel to New York

-lodging fees if you don't have a benevolent friend/relative with a couch. Luckily, Yodiwan has offered some cheap alternatives. Also, my cousin came to visit last week and managed to find a hotel in Long Island City for only $50. But maybe like 15 of us blog-friends can pile into a room earthworm-style.

Things you're tempted to think would happen at BEA that probably wouldn't:
-You'd woo an editor into a book deal. It's not going to happen. If you come with that as a goal, you'll be disappointed. Instead, come to learn and collect free goodies. And to meet people.

-Also, it will be really tempting to try to leave your card/proposal/manuscript with people at the booths of your favorite publishers, but I guarantee this will not work out well. Remember that everyone in the booths will be sales, marketing, and publicity people, most of whom have nothing to do with acquisitions/editorial, and whose passed-on materials will not be processed by editorial in prioritized or efficient ways. Also, remember there are many, many reasons you don't want to send your manuscript directly to a publisher without an agent. Schmoozing, however, is ok.

Hope this helps. Thoughts/questions? Shoot me an email if you're thinking of coming or have a specific question/concern.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Wings'n on Up!


Wow, ok, I haven't had a Mischief announcement of this size I think, umm, ever before. But Aprilynne Pike, who's been a blog friend two years now (I remember the first time you linked to me, Aprilynne--it was July of 2007, and you had to nicely explain to your mom why why my blog wasn't quite as profane as the title seemed!), wrote a YA book called Wings, which has JUST DEBUTED AT #6 ON THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER LIST!!!!

Um, yeah. I knew you when!!!!

a little late, but

On Mother's Day, I was extremely distracted watching every episode of FIREFLY consecutively with Dadrat while eating Razzleberry Pie.

But now that it's the Thursday after Mother's Day, I'd like to take this moment to appreciate all the ridiculous women I'm so lucky to have in my life. Especially because I believe they are amusing on a more general level.

I know everyone knows Momrat from her recent opinion of the internet, but it might have been awhile since you remembered Momrat's condition, Momrat's fateful adventure with the police, Momrat's surveillance by the CIA, or that time with the pie.

Or if you've had enough of Momrat for now, I offer you the other lady in my life, my Great Aunt, pictured here with her Sicilian zucchini (warning: image may be traumatizing). Or if you'd like, you can read about the Aunda's opinions of modern sexual mores.

Here's a shout out to all the ladies out there, whether you are mothers, have mothers, have lost mothers, or never got to be mothers, like the Aunda. I love the way we're all here for one another.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

email of the day

[from my assistant]

To: Moonrat
From: XXX

In case you needed another baby animal today.

Monday, May 11, 2009

happy gender role day!

I'm coming late to the game, but have you guys seen this picture book, I'M GLAD I'M A BOY, I'M GLAD I'M A GIRL!?

Wow, is all I have to say. I can't decide if I'm amused, sickened, glad we've come so far, or horrified how recently it was published. Help me process my emotions.

(Someone shared this link with me on Facebook, and I accidentally deleted it--I'm sorry! If you're reading this, let me know and I'll give you credit.)

small annoyances

One of my authors emailed Robert the Publisher and asked if they could take him out for lunch.

I was copied on the email. So I shouldn't feel betrayed or annoyed. Right? Right?!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Momrat takes on the internet

[We're driving in a car. I'm explaining how we can watch the original Abba video for "Take a Chance on Me" on this thing called Youtube, if we like.]

Momrat: Here's the the thing. I just don't understand how it works.

YT: How what works?

Momrat: You know. The internet. Why is there all that information? What is Youtube, and why is it THERE?

YT: It's just like real addresses, Ma. You know, when the mail truck is looking for you, they need to get to Smith Street, then they find #4. Well, think of Youtube as Smith Street, and the Abba video as, like, #87,400. And Google is like the phone book, where you find all the addresses.

Momrat: ...

YT: Does that make sense?

Momrat: No.

YT: Why not?

Momrat: What is it all doing in my HOUSE? Why is it in a little BOX? Did it come in on a WIRE, or something? [Waves hand wildly at windshield.] Why is all the information floating out there? Is there just an Abba video floating out there in the air? Why does that stuff even exist? Where was it before the internet?!

YT: ...

Momrat: WELL?!

YT: I... don't... I don't know.

Momrat: Yeah.

YT: I... I guess I just take it all for granted.

Momrat: Yeah, see? *You* don't know, either. No one knows. It's just all... floating.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

what's safe to syndicate online?

This is probably my most frequently-asked reader question, and I've never answered it well.
Dear Moonrat,

I was thinking about releasing my first chapter on my blog for critiquing, but then a friend told me I should be careful because it could interfere with getting a publishing contract. Is this true? What are the possible issues with this? If it can interfere with getting a contract then it defeats the purpose in posting it so I would not do it.

Thanks,
XXX

I'm going to take a stab at this, but the caveat is that my word should not be taken as final here. If anyone else in the industry or with concrete experience on this matter wants to chime in, please be my very welcomed guest.

So here's the central issue with internet syndication: electronic rights. Basically, when you syndicate your content online, you're "using up" the electronic rights. Sort of, in a small way.

For your book deal, electronic rights will be wrapped up in your contract under either the volume rights or the "other forms, current and future" clause, and are becoming a sticking point for publishers everywhere, who imagine a future in which they are more relevant than they are now (yes, ebooks are great, but don't let publishing people fool you into thinking we have ANY idea what we're doing with ebooks or how the fudge we're going to make money on them in the long term).

But what this means is there is some scaring and misunderstanding everywhere about whether or not it's ok for an author to release their content online before (or after) a book deal. Some publishers are afraid that all-important electronic clause will be forfeit if the book was already released on a blog. Others are worried about first serial (print publication before the book is available), which is silly of them, because first serial is nearly dead, anyway. There's no consensus on this, and reaction will vary from house to house, but there are ways to make the internet work for you, to proceed wisely, and to not upset anyone, even the ninnies who are afraid of free content and how it ruins everything.

My thoughts on this are as follows.

Do you have a huge blog readership? Like, thousands of people? No? Then no worries. Put up what you want for critique--especially if you're planning on taking it down later. If you're not driving tons of traffic to your site, and especially if your site is mainly designed as a writing forum to exchange ideas, I don't see a problem with putting it up.

Do you care if you ever sell this work? Sometimes, people write for the internet and their internet-sepcific crowd. What you do with THIS book can't negatively impact a DIFFERENT book (at least, not in terms of electronic rights). I know some blog authors--lots of you, actually--who do special clever and fun online writing exercises that are never intended for future publication.

Remember online readership is a great fanbase. The internet is the easiest way to build platform while you sit at home. So offering people on the internet SOME window into your soul isn't a bad thing. I don't think it pays to be unnecessarily afraid.

A couple safety measures:
*Don't put the whole thing up at once. That way, it's less likely that a full, unfinished version of your ms is floating around anywhere in cyberspace. Also, that means that you'll almost certainly be able to say only "portions" have been released should the time come that that's relevant.

*Take down what you're done having read. This is to protect your reputation, too. You don't want unpolished versions of what you wrote floating around indefinitely on the internet.

*Use email if you can.
If you critique with a very small e-circle--like 3 or 4 people--consider using email instead of your blog as a venue. That way, you'll never have to have this conversation again.

Re: worries about first serial: I had an author recently who had published a portion of her novel in an online journal (a mid-sized one). This ended up having literally zero effect on the book, except maybe extending readership (who knows?). But we sold first serial rights, and a beautiful piece came out of it.

Ultimately, whether or not to syndicate what you've written online is your choice. My personal feelings is that putting up free content creates fans for you. Obviously, it makes sense to exercise judgment--or, heck, you might end up LOSING fans--but I think a lot of the "ack don't put it up!" fear is going to dispel as publishers come to grips with the concept of free content (and how they can't fight it).

Does anyone out there have specific negative experience with publishing online? Any cautionary tales? Any industry professionals with wise words?

Monday, May 04, 2009

from books doth much useful knowledge issue

For Project Fill-in-the-Gaps, I'm (very, very slowly) reading a mammoth history of New York City--Gotham, by Edward Burroughs and Mike Wallace.

But this is why I love history books. Sometimes you stumble across things too much fun not to share.

In a possibly apocryphal story (related to a Philadelphia priest 150 years after the fact), members of the Lenape tribe described the story handed down to them about meeting Henry Hudson. According to the story, Hudson invited their ancestors onto his boat, where he offered them alcohol to drink. Thus was that particular spot named Mannahattanink, or "the island/place of general intoxication" (15).

All right, who's going to make the first smart comment?

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Ten Writer Mistakes

Writtenwyrdd posted this great link to 10 universal (and avoidable!!) writer mistakes. SO TRUE. Take it from someone who's seen the work of MANY good authors--no one's immune! Everyone read it!

The ten are:

1) The crutch word (Have I told you about my author who used the word "gyrate" 16 times in a 300 page manuscript? Or my other author who used the word "emotional" 67 times in a 400 page manuscript? Has anyone seen my red pen? And my wet noodle?)

2) Flat writing (ugh, YUCK--usually, if you think about a boring sentence for a couple minutes, a more interesting way to say the same thing will pop into your head; the challenge is spotting your own boring sentences)

3) Empty adverbs (Actually, totally, absolutely, completely, continually, constantly, continuously, literally, really, unfortunately, ironically, incredibly, hopefully, finally--words that "promise emphasis but do the reverse"--clever way of putting it)

4) Phony dialogue

5) No-good suffixes (humm, I kind of like words like characterlessness; but maybe that's my general lack of good taste)

6) Am Is Are Was Were (who doesn't love a little unnecessary passive voice? not you? no? no takers?)

7) Lists

8) Telling instead of showing

9) Awkward phrasing

10) Commas (I love commas. But I love them in the right places.)

My one quibble--where is TERRIBLE DIALOGUE TAGS?!?!?!!? Because those are the WORST THINGS IN THE WORLD. Except spiders. Well, they're much worse than small spiders, or daddy longlegs.

the Rally Monkey on unexpected outcomes of colonialism

[RM is of Filipino descent]

Rally Monkey: Now look. The Spaniards violently conquered my people, oppressed, slaughtered, and tortured them for four hundred years. But when I see a Spaniard, do I go beat him up? No, no I don't. I just think to myself, why do you guys all wear such tight pants? I can't help but be ashamed that my ancestors were conquered by skinny people in tight pants.

Friday, May 01, 2009

who here lives in New York?

If you do, I assume you're going to be here at 7. Right? Because I can't think of EVEN ONE reason to miss it!

more swine flu humor


[via Ann Victor]

If there's such thing of karma, I'll totally die of swine flu this weekend. In the meantime, back to the bacon...