Nathan Bransford, Author

Friday, September 14, 2007

This Week in Publishing 9/14/07

Wow. Wow wow wow. What a week.

Thank you so much to everyone who entered, followed, voted on, talked about, breathed on, or was vaguely aware of the Stupendously Ultimate First Line Challenge. It's been a whole lot of fun, and something we'll have to do again. Someday. When I'm well rested. And have a big bottle of bourbon at my side.

If you haven't already, please write-in your vote in the comments section of yesterday's post announcing the nominees. It's neck and neck! A dead heat! Also, please refrain from open campaigning for the nominees here or elsewhere on the Internet -- I know it's fun to root for your friends but let's keep this as fair and objective as possible and let everyone decide on their own. Voting will close Sunday evening and the stupendously ultimate winner will be announced on Monday.

MEANWHILE, there was publishing news this week.

As noted by many, author Madeleine L'Engle passed away last week. 26 publishers passed on A WRINKLE IN TIME before it went on to become a classic.

The winners of the Quills were announced this week. "What? already?" Yes! Already! I'll give you one hint about who won for fiction: his name rhymes with Shmormac ShmcMarthy. Personally I am extremely concerned that the combined weight of the awards he has won this year is going to create a black hole in the vicinity of Santa Fe, New Mexico that will swallow us all. Don't say I didn't warn you.

As first reported by GalleyCat, James Frey landed on his feet with a new book deal with noted piano maestro Jonathan Burnham. (Seriously, the man is an amazing piano player.) Oh, and Jonathan happens to be the publisher of HarperCollins, too. Frey is writing a novel this time.

And finally, 101 Reasons to Stop Writing has issued its September de-motivator, which is just pure genius. I particularly like the pensive man in the blue shirt in the middle, who I like to imagine is trying to forget that someone may have used an evil albino as a villain in the past.

Have a great weekend!


Dwight's Writing Manifesto said...

Thanks for stepping up and sponsoring the contest, Nathan.

Even if I didn't make the cut, you injected a lot of excitment into the blogosphere this week.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

getitwritten_guy said...

The contest made great reading during my breaks. Thanks.

Maybe the man in the blue shirt is trying to forget something else that 's been used - - like the beautiful but tragically remorseful vampire princess who falls in love with the hero of his story.

Scott said...

Wait. "The beautiful but tragically remorseful vampire princess who falls in love with the hero" story has already been done? Damn. Guess I'll move on to my story about K'hrgelw'rsh, the boy wizard for Q'ruk'lhm who, with his sidekick Biff, a troglohobbit, must recover the magical Amulet of Klurg'h before K'hrgelw'rsh discovers he's really the heir to the throne of the distant planet F'l'r'k'l'h'm.

Nathan Bransford said...


Too funny.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Nathan. Very much.

Scott said...

I admit the first line sucks, but the second has just the right number of vowels.

Jennifer L. Griffith said...

Thanks for sponsoring this contest and sucking me into the "blog-gone" world. I registered with google to enter your contest and the next thing I know, I started a blog.


I need to think before I click. We'll see if this is for me..."The Accidental Blogger."

Time has a way letting me know. No matter how it pans out, it's all your fault!

Other Lisa said...

What, Frey didn't write a novel the first time?

(sorry. I had to)

Shana said...

Hey, if Dave Langford's Hugos haven't caused an implosion, I don't think you need to worry about McCarthy.

Words In Words Out said...

My fingers are still recovering from the constant refreshing of the entries. Now, every time I open my mouth to say something I find myself wondering if it would be a strong enough first line. It has lead to some interesting conversations though!

Dave said...

Win or lose, this was fun.

Josephine Damian said...

Dwight: If only there was a "period" after the word "costume," you'd have at least made my cut.

Other Lisa: I saw an interview with Frey where he said he queried/submitted "Million" as a work of fiction - albeit an autobiographical fiction typical of beginner writers. He said it was rejected over and over, so he decided to present it/submit it as non-fiction/memoir and... "Sold!"

Just by changing the presentation, the label, and not the content, he got it published.

At the time I viewed that first and foremost as an act of desperation (and one I could relate to), with dishonesty a distant second.

Bottom line: he still has talent as a story teller. I knew sooner or later this phoenix would rise.

I once asked one of my foreniscs professors to critique an article I'd written that had been rejected several times. She said: Your problem is your title.

So I changed my title.


Lessons learned.

Nathan, enjoy a relaxing weekend. You've earned it.

MLM said...


You mentioned Frey, desperation, and dishonesty a distant a recent article about his newset book deal (you can find the link on, he was asked if he had ever sold short stories and he said he'd never written a short story. The article author then cited a short story Frey had recently written and placed. Great story-teller or no, this man has some truth issues I think. :o)

MLM said...

Here's the quote (it was an article in the New York Times): "Reached by telephone before the announcement, Mr. Frey denied rumors that he had sold a short story collection, saying, “I have never written a short story in my life.”

But Mr. Frey published a short story last fall in a catalog for an exhibition by Malerie Marder, a Los Angeles-based artist."

Jennifer L. Griffith said...

I'm not trying to demean nor defend Mr. Frey. I believe that telling the truth is of the utmost importance. But here's my take on this situation, for whatever it is worth.

Maybe it's Mr. Frey's trouble with "truth telling" that makes his "stories" so believable and engaging.

Does he know the difference between reality and his imagination?

The greatest acting occurs when imaginary characters are believable to others--and the characters themselves--when in reality, it is not real at all. It's a fabrication, by definition, but delivered without pretending it is a "truth”.

Fiction is the same, in my opinion, but an engaging novel can be effectively written through a person who knows and speaks the truth.

Any thoughts?

Conduit said...

As the dust begins to settle on this whole escapade, I'd just like to say thanks to Nathan for hosting this shindig. It was great fun. Having done a quick tally on the voting, it looks like I'm out of the running, but just making the shortlist made my week. It's great to get a boost like that now and then.

I'd also like to thank those who gave me their votes, even if some got a little carried away. I have been made to blush several times over the last few days! :)

This was great fun, educational, and personally very gratifying. Keep up the good work, Nathan.

Bakerman said...

This whole affair has been nothing less than a shameless display of talent.

After being handily defeated by the better opening-liners, I took a peaceful tour of Nathan's permanent entries, and there my eyes were drawn to the most dreaded word in a writer's language; synopsis. So dreaded, Nathan himself implied the bottle of cheap wine necessary just to approach the subject.

Notwithstanding getting blasted out of one's mind, the entry was - as are ALL his permanent entries - brilliant.

Thus renewed, I'm ready for the next one-liner contest, that is, after the current extravaganza is fairly concluded... pending the numerous recounts and endless appeals (I herein formally withdraw from the latter group).

I also wanted to add a thought on another dreaded word, rejection; after one, rewrite the query.

I may have more sage advice after I receive number two, but on the heels of reading Nathan's "The Essentials: Anatomy of a Good Query Letter I & II" - I think I've got the hang of it. If not, I'm at least ten rejections closer.

Ello said...

Hey Nathan,
I have a request, that you can completely disregard if you have too much on your plate, but when you announce the winner of the contest, might it be possible for you to make an announcement to see who would be willing to share their story ideas of at least the next few paragraphs of their work? I have a deadly curiosity which, once risen, will not rest until satisfied. I am dying to know what happens next on alot of these first lines. So if you could just suggest that people might get in touch with each other through the comments and link back to their own blogs so as not to tie up yours again, something like that might work. It might even help writers get readers for their work. Just a thought, late on a Saturday night, as my curiosity drives me crazy.

Colleen said...

Hey Nathan:

What fun this has been -- although perhaps more so for those of us who got to sit back and enjoy without doing any of the work!

If anyone was late entering or is looking for another contest, I've posted one at:

Entrants must write a 250-wd piece on any subject to do with writing. All articles/essays/whatever will be posted. Deadline is Sept 29. A draw of all entrants names will be made on the 30th and the winner will get a coy of Donna Morrissey's Syvanus Now.

How's that for flagrant self promotion?

But the contest is for real and, I hope, as much fun for everyone as yours.


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