Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Mid-Week Round-Up

Hi all—

Once again, I have a bunch of sales meetings to attend, so Laura will be treating you to another round-up today.

I had a very smarmy introduction planned that involved the Pied Piper, Rat-catcher’s day, and a mountain in which to hide small children, but then I found out that they’ve started casting for the HBO mini-series of A Game of Thrones (Middlesex is also becoming an HBO series, but teen hermaphrodites are less exciting to me than swords). So let’s have a moment of silence for the loss of my dignity—I read this in the office and may have squee-ed a bit loudly—and move on to other, clearly less exciting publishing news. Also, there’s a contest in paragraph three. The prize is kudos (verbal, not the granola bar) and recognition from me. Wait, no, don’t stop reading…aw…

First, though, vindication. Remember way back to last week, when I said zombies aren’t the new vampires? I was right totally right—it turns out Christian vampires are the new vampires. Sin, I stake thee through the heart! Also moving up in the world of religious literature is Amish fiction, ever controversial for its pro-bonnet, anti-nails stance.

My challenge to you all: leave the first line of an Amish vampire novel in the comments. My favorite will be featured in my next post. Extra points for including zombies, of any religious or cultural stripe.

Speaking of the undead: have you had enough Twilight to choke a horse? No? Well, just you wait—the Twilight graphic novel is coming to town. But don’t worry, the world has balance, and a posthumous George Carlin memoir is also forthcoming, in which he wrote the seven words you can’t say from beyond the grave.

For some reason all of the big publishing debacles this week were e-book related. One started with a wee article on Slate about e-book pricing. Eric did a great job of summing this up here, but don’t miss opinions from Dominique Raccah, Peter Rubie, and the handsome and charming Nathan Bransford (hey, we all know where most of you followers came from).

In European ebook news, the Kindle is about to come out in the UK. As in, it’s not already out there. How do you live, United Kingdom? How do you LIVE? I choose to believe the UK is taking a stand against Big Brother, sneaking into incredibly expensive e-readers and stealing purchased books. The disappearance of 1984 and Animal Farm is, to some, just like Kristallnacht. Less violent, less racially motivated, less government sanctioned, but other than that, gosh darn it, just the same.

This is a great opportunity for all of us jealous, cranky, non-Kindle owners to be smug—at least our regular books won’t be stolen by Amazon (unless, as some suggest, Amazon is creating a crowbar division to break in and get the real deal from the rest of us). Kindle owners can stick it to the man by downloading non-Amazon books to their Kindles, and all of us who are afraid of monopolies can go to the Google books webinar so they can explain their sneaky ways. Perhaps it’s stuff like this that make some believe publishing can’t survive as-is, or that makes Barnes & Nobles convinced they can compete online with Amazon.

In other England news, authors who want to speak in schools now need to pay for background checks. Some authors are angry, because they think they deserve unquestioned trust and access to children. With direct access denied, child molesting authors need to stick with offering candy from vans and the Internet. Regular non-pedophile authors also use the internet to interact with readers, and the eternal question lingers: Myspace or Facebook?

Academic publishing houses are finally jumping on the e-book bandwagon, with Harvard University Press selling 1,000 titles to Scribd, and NYU, Rutgers, Temple, and Penn looking into a collective scholarly e-book publishing plan. Cambridge University press isn’t going online per se, but is starting a new print-on-demand project. But don’t digitize everything just yet—students aren’t feeling e-textbooks. Don’t tell the Governator.

Troublingly, Ridley Scott tells us that science fiction is dead. With the recent passing of Phyllis Gotleib, Canadian sci-fi legend, and the death of Batman, I’m sorely tempted to believe him, but then articles like this one about Jack Vance, the genre-bending Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, and this great discussion of international science fiction bring me back to reality: sci-fi is alive and kicking.

Harry Potter, though, is done for real (says JK Rowling for the millionth time, but what does she know?). This is too bad, as HP just got the Vatican seal of approval. Clearly they are stamping everyone with that seal, though, because Oscar Wilde is a-okay now too.

Although not officially Vatican sanctioned (yet), the literary heavyweight who is Shaq’s mom will be penning a memoir. Hopefully her lesser known, rapping genie son Kazaam will get a mention. Apparently a lot of musicians have been writing novels as well, because it’s not like it’s hard or anything. Right? Guys?

The incredible ease of writing is not evident in the new documentary Bad Writing (with David Sedaris!) or in the reasoning behind Anti-Plagiarism Day. And apparently even good writers suck, because although the Beat movement was influential, people are calling to remove, from the canon, Kerouac. What a hack. Especially compared to Momma Shaq. (Confession: I too am a rapping genie. It’s a very small community.)

Ten bucks says the Shaq book gets a massive advance; meanwhile, authors with no advances are turning to fundraising to pay for their lives while they write, and the nonprofit Archipelago Books is asking for people to buy subscriptions to keep them afloat. Even published authors are being humiliated, but mostly at book signings. Also at book signings: Margaret Atwood and her LongPen. Since this blog is rated G, you’ll have to fill in your own joke here.

In the spirit of this being a sales blog, I thought I would include some sales-related links (please, contain your joy). It turns out that remainders can still help you make cash money. With all this new cash in hand, keep your ducks in a row with this retirement plan for writers and this explanation of the joys of buying three books for the price of two (or buying random used books for hilarity). You know what I hear really helps book sales? Binding your books in human skin. (Anthropodermic bibliopegy. Say that three times fast! —E) Not. Creepy. At all.

In exchange for your submissions to my Amish vampire story contest, I trade a list of the 61 post-modern novels you must read (I said you, not me), an article about how modern day ladies aren’t really interested in “rape novels” from the 70s (here’s a hint: it might have something to do with the word “rape” in the name), a “Publishometer,” and this great beef with the Hugos. Not convinced? I now share with you the Holy Grail of combos: free chocolate Fridays and on-demand flash fiction. Now go nuts below—bonnets are optional; hilarity is a must.


  1. Re. UK news, did you see the link in the previous thread about PLR? Most interesting comment of the week!

    My entry into the Amishstakes is the word 'Amishstakes.' That's what you call Amish vampire novels. I slay thee.

    And here's a link for you. Post-modern? Maybe:

  2. Oh man, you got me to open 15 tabs. Well done!

  3. "The little muskrat finally sucked dry, Ezekial blotted the blood from his lips and said a silent prayer before hastening back to his house. The sun was about the rise and the village would notice if he wasn't there for the barn raising."

  4. I spy Sarah just as the blood lust is upon me, I wonder, which would be the greater crime, drinking her blood, or despoiling her modesty by opening her collar?

  5. Ooh, Amish Vampires! Can I call it "Witness the Undead"?

    Miriam turned from the sheaves of wheat and hefted her scythe. All it took was a practiced sweep of her arm to relieve the fiend of its head. The creature's hiss abruptly cut off as its chalky skin crumbled to dust. Miriam gasped, the thing hadn't collapsed in a putrid heap of flesh as did the all-too-familiar groaning hordes of undead that appeared on the farms with each twilight. This beast was something altogether different. She shivered and threw a pleading glance at the heavens, knowing it wasn't something better.

  6. Jebediah, Lord of the Night, spying the townsfolk walking toward him with grim determination set above their mustacheless beards and below their bonnets, hissed, "To my wagon, and away!"

  7. Not an entry in the Amishstakes (thanks anon.) but last week at a library book sale I saw an Amish woman with a handheld computer scanning a vampire novel to check its going rate on Amazon. Proof that the world is even more incomprehensible than I had imagined.

  8. Sarah prepared for the day as she ever did, and thought for the millionth (or was it billionth by this point?) that the worst part of being an Amish vampire wasn't the limited access to new blood, it was having to put up her hair and somehow hide the stakes in her bonnet that would ensure that any vampire outsiders would die a quick death. Splinters in the scalp were nothing to sniff at!

  9. Bound in human skin: that makes me want to go ahead and take that little donor heart right off my driver's license.

  10. Actually, sorry for the double post, but it just crossed my mind that someone more creative than I am could probably use that human skin concept in the Amishstakes. *Shudder*

  11. Okay, here is my go:

    It were a cruel fate cast on him. He strove in all things to be plain: in dress, in manner, and in speech. But he was not plain. He suffered to be named for Abel yet bear the curse of Cain, the curse that forever separated him from his beloved Rachel. Were it not writ in the Book that two who are unequal should not be yoked together?

    Never were a pair more unequal than he, a vampire, and she, his faithful Amish love.

    If I could only work a pirate in there I'd be ready for submission!


  12. Rebecca was thinking entirely unpure thoughts as she watched Ezekial walk towards her the skin of his hands sparkling with the last rays of the setting sun. Never before had she felt such a strong attraction to a man, God forgive her.

    Suddenly, Ezekial became a blur as he ran towards her grabbing a pitchfork and stabbing the shambling decaying hulk of a man who was shuffling up behind her.

    "They rise." he said

  13. I am SO glad I'm not the only one who thought the removal of improperly authorized books from Kindle was maybe not EXACTLY like Kristallnacht.

  14. Elijah waited in the hayloft for the pale-faced vampires to come closer. He crouched near the door and took his straw hat off to make his silhouette smaller. The axe felt heavy in his hands and his beard was slick with sweat. The first abomination neared, and Elijah would have fallen on it if Rebecca had not streaked from the house with her skirts up at her knees.

  15. Electric lighting can be hell on pasty white skin, a compelling reason for a new-born vampire to take up residence in the rural Pennsylvania Amish community, a place where slashed throats could easily be blamed on ancient farm equipment with scant safety features.

  16. The zombie carried an Amish quilt and straw hat away from the crime scene in a jerky shuffle, and my honor, as a greater form of undead, the vampire, was thoroughly insulted.

  17. Laura, if there's a link here to your blog, I'm missing it. And your blog definitely needs to be in my Google Reader.

    So, a link...?

  18. Levi:

    I think you are talking to me since I don't see a "Laura" on the comment thread. Please forgive if I am mistaken.

    This is my humble blog. Not to be confused with a bog.

    We share heritage surname is Montgomery!

  19. Hey Levi,

    I don't technically "have my own blog"--like a child, a blog needs attention and time, and I'm working my way up. This guest posting is kind of like having a puppy, and I'll try to graduate to a blog-baby.

    I don't think I'm there yet, as Eric won't even let me have my own username (which is probably really smart, as I have a tendency to abuse power).

    Also, I am in love with these Amish vampire stories. We might have to start a legit genre, Amishstakes (thanks Anon!), which I like both because it's fitting and because it sounds like Sean Connery saying, "Ah, mistakes."

  20. Great guest blogging!

    Ella sighed--in frustration rather than the pleasure she'd hoped for--as Ben fumbled with the hook-and-eye closures at the top of her blouse. She caught him at the wrist and felt his pulse throb agains her cold palm as she pushed him away. "Just let me do it," she said, annoyed by the human's inept seduction. A rustling came from the outside the barn. She covered Ben's mouth before he could speak. She sniffed the air--the flesh approaching was dead, but unlike hers, it was also rotting. The zombie king had found her.

  21. "With direct access denied, child molesting authors need to stick with offering candy from vans and the Internet."

    Oh, man! This post is hilarious, and so are the comments. I've opened like 20 new tabs!

    I'm off to Tweet this.

  22. Penelope:

    Ditto. I love the guest blogs. And to think...she started last week worried we would throw tomatoes!

    And Levi: I'm a moron...sorry!

  23. Laurel,

    I'm glad you posted your blog! Because I was reading it anyway.

    Hm, I wonder if this makes me a know, Eric didn't make me pay to have a background check done before I started guest posting. But I don't live in England or use MySpace, so I think that automatically means I'm fine.

  24. Dave the vampire loved feeding on the Amish. Their docile nature and loose fitting clothes made them an excellent target. Better yet, given that Amsih people are almost always clad in black, he'd amassed a large assortment of tunics and and would never again have to change his clothes.

  25. I vote for Gary's! Now that I've seen his I can't stop laughing long enough to think of one myself.

  26. It was nearing 4am. William turned the television off, scowling at the closing credits of "The Village." It had been nearly a decade since the vampire took his life from him in Lancaster, and now the very same asshole had made this wretched movie.

  27. "The moon was black and red as it rose behind the distant trees, casting thin strips of light down on Moses as he crouched over the twitching deer and drank the warm blood in methodical rhythmic gulps, the blood dribbling down his long black beard, falling onto his grandfather's straw hat: the final renouncing of his beloved family's order."

    Something like that. If I were actually writing that seriously, I would probably not have put the bit about the beard and hat and stuff, but I was trying to get the Amishness across. (shrug)

  28. Hezekiah quickly wiped the blood from his mouth, hurrying so that he might timely arrive at the 2 am barn-raising and avoid the arrival of the zombie corpse-eaters who frequented the Pennsylvania Dutch country.

  29. When the fire alarm rang, Rebecca was feeding on the deacon behind the courting-buggy.


  30. Amish vampires are already passé. What you want is a Jehovah's Witness Vampire.

    (This is called Pimp My Novel, right?)

  31. t were a cruel fate cast on him. He strove in all things to be plain: in dress, in manner, and in speech

  32. This blog is without a doubt awesome and informative. osg777 I have picked up helluva handy advices out of this amazing blog. I ad love to come back over and over again. Thanks!

  33. Hello friends out there my name is Alex Daniel i am a vampire i was born in
    California am 40 years old i love being a vampire because i always get what
    i want i have initiate a lot of friends and family members, young and old
    ,if you have interest and you want to be a vampire you are free i can turn
    you and you will be one of us. Fame, money, anything you want will
    defiantly be yours contact or what sapp on