Lots and lots of links to get to, but first I wanted to give a heads-up about the upcoming Central Coast Writers Conference in San Luis Obispo on September 17th and 18th. Spots are still available, and there will be keynotes and workshops and all kinds of good things. I'll be giving a speech on the internal combustion engine (or maybe the writing life, haven't decided yet), I'll be doing a query game/workshop, and there will be more! Here's the website, hope to see you there!
Now then, let's get to the links, shall we?
The big news this week that has everyone talking is Barnes & Noble's announcement that after being battered by a low share price, they might be open to selling themselves. What does this mean? Well, somewhat unclear. Investor Ron Burkle had been looking to increase his stake but had been prevented from doing so, and this could potentially open the door. But founder/chairman Len Riggio may be able to prevent that and has stated that he's considering organizing a private investment group. Stay tuned.
In other book news, Google has apparently determined that there are a measly 129,864,880 books in the world. Don't worry, we still need more!!
And in e-book news, Mike Shatzkin sizes up three new e-book formats about to hit the market.
Last week we discussed our favorite villains, and almost simultaneously The Millions featured a great article called In Search of Iago that traces Iago and other sociopaths through literary history.
In writing advice news, Eric from Pimp My Novel discussed why you still want an agent even if you're e-publishing, and Moonrat has a really terrific rundown of the pros and cons of every publishing option under the sun (or should I say the moon? Get it?? MOONrat? I slay myself.), the LA Times took a look at startup OpenSky, which helps authors monetize their Internet presence/celebrity/authority with creative merchandising and branding, Rachelle Gardner compares the writing life with an Olympic athlete's, and the Huffington Post has a slideshow of 11 of the best creative writing programs.
Speaking of the LA Times, a big hearty congratulations to Carolyn Kellogg, who parlayed her terrific work with Jacket Copy into a staff writing position! This may be the smartest personnel decision at a major newspaper since the Daily Planet hired Clark Kent.
In drinking news, the Rejectionist (who is currently hosting an awesome Feminist Science Fiction Week) passed along this incredible e-books article drinking game, which will have you under the table faster than you can say "game changer," and the NY Times featured a great article on the tediousness of writers telling us how to drink, and the awesomeness when fictional characters show us. (via Dystel & Goderich)
This week in the Forums, your favorite part of writing, are you a crafter or an artist, originality and race in fantasy, and of course, which superpower would you want?
Comment! Of! The! Week! Goes! To! Jabez, who has a very provocative comment on Writing vs. Storytelling, which I shall print in full. Do we agree? Disagree?
First, regarding Writing vs. Storytelling is Jabez:
A couple points. First, I've seen scores of people on blogs and otherwise say words to the effect of, "I'm not the best writer in the world, but I'm a good storyteller," but barely a handful who have ever admitted to being a better prose stylist than a storyteller. But being good at either one is really hard and rare.And finally, this is one of the more hilarious videos I've seen in a while, though I fear it may not make sense to anyone under the age of 25. I give you.......... the trailer for Oregon Trail. The Movie.
I think the reason for the disparity, mostly, is that it's easier to delude yourself into thinking you're a better storyteller than you are, because you can grasp the quality (or not) of the prose in a short excerpt, but to evaluate storytelling you have to look at the work as a whole, which is harder to wrap your mind around. Plus we usually get into the writing game because we have stories to tell, and we don't want to think that on that basic level, we just don't have it. And people confuse storytelling, which involves a lot of different elements (choice of details, pacing, tension, characterization, plotting, setting, etc.) with just the basic idea of the story (which they think theirs is original and compelling, or they wouldn't be writing it) or with just plot at a high level of remove.
And my second point, which is I think too many people confuse "writing" as "writing in a literary fashion." I think a great "writer" is a writer who can best craft her prose to serve the particular story she's trying to tell, whether that is literary, fantasy, mystery, romance, or what not. But because people tend to equate fancy or elaborate (which may happen to be great) with great prose, lots of people who don't write in a literary style instantly discount themselves and similar writers as mainly "storytellers" and not great "writers."
Have a great weekend!