Nathan Bransford, Author

Friday, June 17, 2011

This Week in Books 6/17/11

This week! Books!

First up, big congrats are in order to Joshua McCune, who you may know as Bane of Anubis, who recently got a book deal with Greenwillow at HarperCollins. Congrats to Joshua!! Also, as the co-winner of the ROCK PAPER TIGER Suspense Contest, Joshua brings the now-or-soon-to-be-published blog contest finalist alumni to Staurt Neville, Victoria Schwab, Terry DeHart, Michelle Hodkin, Michelle Davidson Argyle, Joshua McCune, and I have it on good authority that there is a soon-to-be-announced-anon. (Also we should have a contest soon.)

Interviews! There are questions with my psyche at Writer Unboxed (Part 2), Jon Gibbs (part 1 and part 2), Kai Strand, the View From Here, and Interviews Anonymous.

What in the world is J.K. Rowling up to? That is the question around the Internet as there is a mysterious Pottermore website. GalleyCat investigates. What do you think it's goign to be?

Speaking of my favorite things, there is a Parks and Recreation book coming. If you need me I'll be reading it at the Snake Hole Lounge.

Over at Pimp My Novel, Eric describes Publishing Time, that mystical but very real phenomenon where time slows down within the walls of publishing houses.

In writing news, Bryan Russell has a seriously hilarious comic on the revision process, my former colleague Sarah LaPolla has an awesome post about different types of beta readers, and Jamie Grove has a great post on how to return to writing after an absence.

What effect has the Internet and publishing blogs had on the query process? Well, agent Jessica Faust weighed in and notes that queries are way better than they used to be. Good work, everyone!

Speaking of agents, PBS takes a look at a new phenomenon: agents as self-publishing consultants.

And two weeks into the Amazon Sunshine Deals program, what's happening to e-book prices on the Kindle bestseller list? Would you believe the average price is rising? (via Adam Heine)

This week in the Forums, 10 responses you don't want to hear when you're pitching, an upcoming blogfest for teen writers, concerns about the darkness in YA, discussing the age of characters in YA novels, and where's your focus?

Comment! of! the! Week! I'm actually going with two comments of the week, and both of them were on Tuesday's post about LeBron James. The first goes to Bryan Russell, who has a stunning post about the Internet's glee at taking celebrities down, which I'm going to go ahead an print in full:
Wonderful post, and I agree with what you said. But I also find the responses to LeBron very interesting, and that goes for the comments following this post, as well.

It's interesting the flak he gets without having actually done all that much wrong. Yes, the Decision was a bad idea, and comes across very narcissistic. But I seriously doubt it was his idea, nor do I think, when it was first decided, that he knew he was leaving Cleveland. It's not like he was revelling in the moment: he was horribly uncomfortable during that entire interview, and you could see he didn't want to be there. I think his "team" was largely responsible for that. A group of young men from Akron. Hometowns are great, but that doesn't necessarily mean you want to live there your whole life. A bunch of young men, wanting to get out there, taking offers from New York, Los Angeles and Miami? I don't think that's strange.

The Decision was bad, certainly. Yet it did raise millions for charity. I'm guessing the benefit to children, in the long run, is a little more important than the silliness of The Decision.

He's had a few other minor missteps (who hasn't?), but generally he's carried himself well, said the right thing. He praises the people who came before him. He's kept his nose clean (literally and figuratively).

And this brings us to the point I want to add: we live in a culture that has grown to love tearing people down. It's filtering into our very nature, through TV, the news, and the internet.

News is no longer news (if it ever was). It's a business. And the business is getting people to watch and buy, and nothing grabs more eyes than pulling down someone famous (or someone not famous, if that's all you can get). And the cleaner the reputation, the more we seem to take joy in the hunt and the kill (Tiger Woods, anyone?).

Which is not to say that people should not be responsible for their actions or their mistakes, but there is a skewed sense to how these things are meted out. The basic fact is that there are athletes everywhere that have done far, far, far worse things than LeBron has ever done, and receive far less, if any, negative response. DeShawn Stevenson, of the Dallas Mavericks, has said far worse things all series. I mean, he's been wearing a shirt that says "LeBron, how does my Dirk taste?"

Which is funny, but also sort of awful. But no one really cares, because he is Deshawn Stevenson and not LeBron.

That goes for so many people. They are not LeBron.

So, what is LeBron? Inside, I can't say. We can only guess at that. But in the public eye?

Part of this reaction, of course, comes from the fact that you garner greater scrutiny the higher you rise. This is always to be expected.

But another part, I think, is psychological. We are a very ambivalent society, I think, in terms of what we want: we want to witness greatness, but we also want to witness people fail. There is something captivating about seeing someone torn down, whether by a quip in a schoolyard or a jibe in the New York Times.

Politics has become little more than an endless series of smear campaigns. It's not about who is raised up higher, but who is brought down lower.

The internet merely fuels this. The internet is the Eye of Sauron, ever-present and always watching. More and more people need stories, need news, need failure. The big eye needs to draw lots of little eyes. The big eye withers without the attention of the little eyes to feed it.

People dig, pry, and warp. Our culture has become like a great lens that magnifies everything... and then sends the image reflecting endlessly through a maze of funhouse mirrors. Endless circulation, with the image bent and twisted and warped. Fat LeBron! Skinny LeBron! Wobbly LeBron!

We seem compelled by these stories. There are no Hectors in our society anymore. A hero who fails, and is cast down? After the fact, well, we'd be reading about this affair he had, how he always struggled with pressure, always stole the limelight from his brother, sometimes didn't wash his hands before dinner.

In our culture there's only room for Achilles. Go Achilles, or go home. And, in the end, the story amy not even be about Achilles. It will be about that loser Hector. Did you see that video on youtube? Or those dirty pictures from college?

The fact is, LeBron is a great basketball player. And, in the midst of thehoopla, this will often be lost. Because he did not surpass the best player to ever play the game, which is a ridiculous thing to ask of someone. Did he play his best? No. Dwyane Wade is also a great player. As is Chris Bosh. They fought hard, and they lost. Perhaps, Hector, too, did not fight his best. Who can say? And perhaps it didn't matter. He could not beat Achilles on that day.

But there are no Hectors here, not anymore. We won't allow it.

The thing is, Dirk Nowitzki is also a great player. And he has a great team around him, a team that was hot at just the right time. They played better basketball, played better as a team, and that's why they won. They deserved to win, and did.

But the story, somehow, seems to be about how LeBron failed. And that cheapens everything that Dirk and his teammates accomplished.

It seems, now, there is little room even for Achilles. We don't even like the classic story of accomplishment, of men coming together to create a sum greater than its parts. This is the true story, the real story of what makes sports wonderful. The story of competition, striving, and success.

But who cares, when Hector's dirty laundry can be aired? And, did you hear, he was really having an affair with Helen? Who knew?

And brianw actually played against LeBron when he was in high school in high school and had this to say:
I played basketball at the university of Akron when lebron was in high school and I played with him many times in an open gym format. I also know most of his good friends (dru Joyce, Romeo Travis, and cousin/manager maverick Carter). I knew lebron when he was 16 through 18 but I do not know him now.

In my opinion lebron was a very nice, polite, funny, and cool high school junior and senior. I saw him in Vegas a year after he went pro and he greeted me like an old friend. He was competitive and friendly at the same time, which is no easy feat. Most of all he was a freak of nature-bigger, stronger, and better than D-1 athletes when he was 16 years old.

I think he just simply had too much thrown at him too fast. He was given the opportunity to design his high school uniforms at st. Vincent st. Mary's and he was give. A loan on a hummer with the collateral being his athletic talent. He signed a contract with Nike for 100 million before he ever played a single game. He was called the chosen one and expected to save an entire region of the country from their misery. Could you handle all that as a high school senior?

Since he was 14 he he never knew if anyone really wanted to be his friend. He has been used for his money, his fame.

All that being said, he picked the wrong people to represent him. He surrounded himself with yes men. He didn't keep a single person in his inner circle who ever told him no.

I think Nathan is right. I think lebron has no idea who he is. Jordan and Kobe were a-holes who really didnt care about anything but winning. Kobe may or may not have raped a woman, yet he is forgiven because he's good in the fourth quarter? Has lebron broken the law? Did he ever lunch a teammate in practice?

Maybe he's not as good as we want him to be. Maybe he's missing something that Jordan had. Maybe he's still overwhelmed by south so fast. Can you honestly say you wouldn't be the same way?

I didn't start this post to defend lebron but I knew him when he was just a kid. And I liked him. So did everyone else I knew. It makes me sad that I don't anymore.

And finally, Facebook malware is one of the most annoying problems on the Internet. So please please please take the time watch (and please share) this video by my colleague Sharon Vaknin about how to avoid and remove Facebook malware. Don't let those annoying wall posts happen to you:

Have a great weekend!


Rick Daley said...

Congrats Bane (Joshua)!

The English Teacher said...

Thanks for all the info, Nathan. Happy Friday.

Rebecca Kiel said...

Great links. Thanks for pulling them together.

JP Kurzitza said...

"Where have you gone Harry Potter-o, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you, woo, woo, woo..."

K.M. Weiland said...

Great roundup of articles! Thanks so much for sharing. The vid on FB malware is gold. Nothing's worse than having an account you've spent major time and effort developing compromised by spammers and their ilk. In our current day of intensive Internet marketing and networking, having a major site like FB endangered is no laughing matter. More like a hysterical sobbing matter.

D.G. Hudson said...

Congrats, Bane! Nice to hear the system is working. Good luck!

If you're into sports, Le Bron may be interesting, but greed and too much media attention tends to bring out the immaturity of many athletes.

The problem now is that if anyone screws up, someone will take a photo of it, tweet it or post it somewhere highly visible. Being discreet has never been more difficult.

We expect our politicians, celebrities, and sports heroes to be better than most of us. The truth is they're human and they don't measure up to the superhero image we have of them.

BTW - Bryan's posts are always a great read; especially the cartoons. His featured short fiction is also something to check out.

Have a great weekend!

Sean Thomas Fisher said...

I heard that Pottermore is going to be a collection of cookware that cooks for you.

Matthew MacNish said...

Congrats Joshua!

Bane of Anubis said...

Wow, I made TWIB! :) Thanks, Nathan, and thanks to everyone for the support (and the votes that got me some invaluable partial feedback from the Wonderbar).

The Pen and Ink Blog said...

Thanks for the video. I reposted and used the info on our Facebook accounts.

Diana said...

I want to know how Rowling was able to customize her youtube page with the owls hanging out of the frames.

Kristin Laughtin said...

Congrats to Bane/Joshua! I remember when he won that contest and how much I liked his entry. Good work!

So intrigued by Pottermore...

Bryan Russell (Ink) said...

A double mention! Do two positives make a negative? I hope not.

Jordan McCollum said...

Another NB contest finalist-cum-published author: Michelle Davidson Argyle (credited as "MA" in the December 2008 contest) had her book picked up and it's book coming out soon. (I just received an ARC this week!)

Nathan Bransford said...

Ah - thanks Jordan, I had a feeling there was someone I was forgetting.

Marla Warren said...

There's a countdown link on YouTube:

5 Days, 7 hours, 25 minutes, etc...until J.K. Rowling's announcement

This just may crash YouTube....

marion said...

Congrats., Bane of Anubis, from Ibischild.
Thanks, Nathan, for so many interesting links. Now I have a whole string of Firefox tabs to click on & browse at my leisure.

Marilyn Peake said...

Congratulations, Bane of Anubis/Joshua!! I am so happy for you!!

32637712-800b-11e0-9bac-000bcdcb5194 said...

Rick Roll'd? Really? Making sure we're paying attention?

terryd said...

Congratulations, Joshua! A big-six three-book deal!

Great links and quotes of the week, Nathan.

Mira said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mira said...

Wow Nathan, wonderful links, thank you! Loved your interviews, very interesting. I especially loved what you said about how "writers write". Very apt for me right now, thank you! As is the "returning to writing" article - thank you again!

Congratulations to Bane! It's really amazing to see people who were just starting out, and now they have three book deals!!! Very exciting! :)

Speaking of exciting, Pottermore!!! I wondered what she was doing!! It's not like she left us forever, she still has plenty of writing years left. Can't wait to see what she's come up with!

That was both a funny comic Bryan posted, and an amazing post. You know when someone is comparing Greek mythology with current sports events, they are pretty darn smart. and what he is saying about witch hunts is very true.

That was a good article by Sarah about beta readers.

In terms of Amazon and the price going up, that makes sense. It's called lure them in, and they will buy, right? Like how Safeway will discount kleenex and then bump up hamburger. People come for the low cost e-books, and then start browsing the best sellers and buy, buy, buy. That's the idea, anyway.

In terms of Eric's article about publishing time, I thought the comments were interesting, too.

That was so cool that brianw knew Lebron.

And lastly, contest?? Did I hear the word, contest??????

Awesome, Nathan. Looking forward to that!

Nathan Bransford said...

FWIW, my prediction for Pottermore is enhanced e-book versions of the Potter series.

Mira said...

Woah, Nathan, I bet you're right.

On the plus side, it will bring ALOT of people to e-reading.

On the down side: NOooooooooooo!!!!!

She's only in her 40s and created such a magnificent world! Surely she has more stories in her - she's a writer! Writers, write, right? :)

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