This Week in Publishing 4/23/09

by | Apr 23, 2009 | Uncategorized | 142 comments

Yes, this week in publishing on a Thursday. This afternoon I’m headed to the Pike’s Peak Writers Conference, and I’m looking forward to meeting some of you there!

Also, a plea for my e-mail subscribers: I really want to hear from you (I do) but please please please don’t e-mail me your responses to blog topics. That’s what the blog is for. Those e-mails go to my work e-mail account, and I really need to keep my Inbox clear for work. If you’d like to weigh in and join the conversation, please click the title of the post in the e-mail, which will take you directly to my blog.

If you scroll down to the very bottom of the page that opens up when you click the blog title, you’ll see a link that says “Post a Comment.” Click that.

Then enter your comment in the window and sign in to your Google (or other) account or click the Anonymous bubble to leave a comment as anonymous. Don’t forget to enter the word verification (in this case “beerpas” — which is kind of awesome), and then click Publish Your Comment:

If you have trouble: please consult the nearest teenager. Everyone who has already e-mailed comments officially gets amnesty, but from here on out I might have to unsubscribe repeat offenders.

Is is okay to e-mail me questions about publishing or your project provided that you first check the FAQs to see if your answer is there. I regret that I’m not able to answer every question.

Cool? Cool.

Now then! Onto the week in publishing.

First up: who wants a free printer? I see a lot of hands. My good friend Holly Burns is currently giving away a free HP Photosmart printer on her blog. You just have to leave a comment about why you want it. It’s that easy. (US residents only. Sorry furranners!)

Allison Brennan was extremely kind to include her query in the Be An Agent for a Day challenge, and this week she blogged about the experience and the odd (and not so odd) reasons why some agents for a day rejected her query.

Dan Brown’s new novel is dropping in September with a ridonkulously huge 5 million copy first printing.

Lynn Viehl was awesome enough to post her most recent royalty statement online, meaning you too can attempt to make sense of a document so confusing it may as well be written in Sanskrit. Luckily, agent translators are standing by. (I kid, Penguin. Your statements aren’t too bad. Your contracts, on the other hand, should be sent with a free magnifying glass).

Innovating editor Jon Karp of Twelve recently wrote a PW article with twelve (of course) recommendations for the publishing industry, including ending Kabuki publishing and putting out much fewer books. Dan Menaker posted a hilarious response with his own suggestions (sample: 2. No more landscape- or seascape-only cover images.) , and G.B.H. Hornswoggler (aka Andrew Wheeler) weighed in a bit more seriously. He’s less sanguine than Jon about the public’s supposed disdain for books like other books, and worries about the effects of massive downsizing on reader selection. (via Other Lisa’s Twitter feed, via lots of other @people)

Speaking of innovation, bestselling author David Hewson posted a seriously awesome article about the hypothetical possibility of an author self-publishing collective loosely based on the old actor-led movie studio United Artists. David knows there are some details still to be worked out, but folks, this is likely what at least part of the future will look like. (And yes, he notes that agents will still be important, although in a slightly different role). Via MJ Rose.

Ever wondered about the difference between galleys (bound and early designed) and ARCs? Ms. Sally Spitfire is here to help.


And finally, friend of the blog Conduit/Stuart Neville just released an awesome trailer for his novel THE GHOSTS OF BELFAST/THE TWELVE:

Have a good weekend! Colorado, here I come!


  1. RW

    Love the idea of a self-publishing collective.

  2. Becky

    Whoa… Dan Brown finally finished the Templars story? I’m shocked. I’m curious to see how closely he follows his formula for his other books. On the one hand, don’t mess with success. On the other, I usually have a hard time distinguishing one from the rest.

    I do think in general, as technology becomes more accessible, the wiki-fication of many entrenched industries is unavoidable and probably a good thing. Assuming we don’t send ourselves the way of the dinosaurs as a species first, of course.

  3. Anne Dayton

    I’m sure all your links are awesome, but what I’m really interested in is those red arrows. How did you make those awesome arrows on the wee pictures of your screen? I want arrows.

  4. Eiko

    Love that you made a demo of how to post a comment (and, that you had to). Amazing.

  5. Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist!

    I can’t believe people don’t know how to comment on a blog… I couldn’t tell if your “demo” was serious or sarcastic.

    so, why don’t you set up a seperate e-mail account for your “fans” to email you with questions about your blog and anything related to publishing?

  6. Nathan Bransford


    It’s all about the power point.


    It’s not sarcasm – I get lots of e-mails and lots of requests for trouble-shooting. Now I’m sending this link.

  7. Margaret Yang

    I’ll see you at the conference. First round is on me.

  8. Nathan Bransford


    It’s kind of complicated. Blog comments go to my personal e-mail account, which is separate from work. I don’t want that to be the reply address on the e-mail subscriptions because I’d like to keep my personal e-mail address personal. But then, I don’t want it to be a fake address either (I don’t want to check a third account), so I use my work account, which is public.

    There you have it.

  9. Bane of Anubis

    Not so sure about the trailer – but I really like Neville’s title.

  10. Marybeth

    Have a great time at the conference! Wish I could go…sigh…

    SOON…very soon….

  11. Ian

    I think I should self-publish with United Artists, win a Pulitzer and an Academy Award to boot. Let’s cut straight to the chase.

    Sorry, not trying to hog the limelight: I know everybody else who posts here feels the same way.

    I’ll get my hat.

    PS Elko, you have a VERY cute face.

  12. Eric


    Make that, GOAL!

  13. Scott

    Hewson’s article is intriguing as a publishing model that is more direct, but as he points out, his pitfalls are not only many, but enormous. Most notable, the need for established imprint filters to keep a United Artists style collective from becoming just another self-pub outfit. There may be a solution that could also address the editor problem.

    Firms that contract their services for editing could be accessed by all, and for a range of pricing, shape and lend their imprint to books that are deemed generally marketable. Yes, that sounds like the current model, but competitive firms would open the doors a bit wider, and qualified agents could even be salaried to keep them open.

    In other words, I could research a new “collective imprint” that “represents” my material. In fact, I could do several. For a fee, my MS is evaluated. Once that happens, I’m accepted, or given “workshop” pricing, or denied acceptance. Almost like a university.

    If you “graduate”, you carry that imprint’s “diploma” on your cover, separating you from self-pub filler. It sure beats paying money for contests where there can be only one winner.

  14. csmith

    Hi Nathan,

    First off, awesome arrows. And enjoy the writer’s conference.

    Secondly, came across this today online: (hoping it links itself)

    It seems quite interesting re. pulling actual hardcopy before the target market is ready (even though this particular article applies to newspapers). And reasonably well researched too. Food for thought?

    All the best,


  15. Kristi

    Welcome to Denver – at least you weren’t here last weekend when we had a foot of snow. It’s 77 degrees today, so this weekend should be great.

    I’m bummed because I’m a member of PPW, live 30 minutes away, and this would have been my first writers conference. Instead, I’ll be at my annual girls getaway in the mountains. I even considered not going on my trip, thus forgoing large quantities of wine to attend the conference, but had already put my money down. Oh well, it’s already in my calendar for next year (April 22-25, 2010 for those who are interested).

    I won’t get to tell you in person how fabulous you are Nathan, so maybe next time. Have a great time here in CO and go to Garden of the Gods if you get a chance – it’s beautiful! 🙂

  16. Yat-Yee

    Welcome to Colorado and see you there!

  17. csmith

    @ Scott

    I like it – sound business model. Don’t know about your corner of the internet, but would suggest (from experience) that blind reading may be of use in the final assessment, too many cliques and imagined slights in the online world. But I like it, I’d fork out money for that. Almost like peer reviewed articles?


  18. Neil

    Nathan, how good of you to tiptoe around the issue and pretend you don’t care and stuff, but let’s face it: the REAL news in publishing this week was that right here on this blog, not two days ago, somebody called you a “cultural icon”. Now, you can act is if you’re not bothered, but we all know that your business cards are going to read “NATHAN BRANSFORD — CULTURAL ICON (oh and superagent)” from now on. I have it on good authority that T-shirts with your face on are being printed right now. And you love it! If this popularity persists you can write your own celebrity book and rep it yourself. Imagine the advance you’d negotiate for yourself!

  19. Chuck H.

    Collective? Wasn’t that what the Borg called themselves? Anyway, enjoy Colorado. You know, you could just come on over to Mo and say “Hey”. You’d already be half way here.

    word ver: explaye. That’d be me.

  20. Kristi

    Sorry – I just saw some of the other comments and had to write in defense of those who don’t know how to post a comment on a blog. I am admitting to being one of “those people” who emailed Nathan my reponses because I have his blog set up to come to my email and didn’t realize I was doing it incorrectly. Then I couldn’t figure out how to post as anything other than Anonymous (I even started a blog because that was the only way I could figure out how to post as my name). And I have a doctorate degree (obviously not in computer technology, but still). So, some of older folks might take a little longer to catch on (Honestly, I still have no idea what Twitter is or how it works).

    I just wanted to throw that out there – I’m sure many appreciated Nathan’s tutorial but aren’t wanting to openly admit not knowing how to do it. Thanks Nathan!

  21. sex scenes at starbucks

    Aww man, I don’t get to come to Pike’s Peak this year and I’m so bummed!

    Try your best to have fun without me.

  22. Nathan Bransford


    Wow. I must have missed that one. I always thought cultural icons got special drivers licenses and mine hasn’t come in the mail so…..

  23. Neil

    Nathan — I’m sure it’s in the post (along with all those T-shirts you’ve ordered)…

  24. Wendy

    I’m still laughing at the first part of your post! Have a good trip. I’m grateful for your blog.
    ~ Wendy

  25. Nathan Bransford


    Well, in that case I’d better double my order.

  26. Laura D

    Enjoy Colorado…lmfao at the opening of this blog. Mistakes happen!

  27. Ann Victor

    I’m beginning to think self-publishing really is going to be a large part of the future of publishing.

    Thanks for links – a good way to get back into things!

  28. Anonymous

    your suggestion is noted. however, sometimes, I’ve had a question or suggestion for a future blog post and, though I’ve posted it in the comments section, it’s been glossed over. and that’s fine – maybe it wasn’t relevant or you missed it or who knows. I do check past posts before asking, btw. maybe a separate email for non-post related comments and future blog topic suggestions? your answers seem confined to the posts – which makes sense – but being a free associative type, often the topic will provoke an unrelated question … and we do all like the answers dispensed by the Nathan Oracle. 🙂

  29. Jenny

    There’s nothing hypothetical about self-publishing author collaboratives. I can think of two of them just off the top of my head. One got into stores. One is selling a lot of books on Fictionwise.

    People who do this successfully tend to keep quiet about the self-published aspect because one secret of successful self-publishing is to make your book indistinguishable from those of mainstream publishers.

  30. MzMannerz

    “If you have trouble: please consult the nearest teenager.”


    Worth the price of admission, that.

  31. PurpleClover

    Nathan –

    The “contact the nearest teenager” and “ridonkulously” comments were hilarious! That has to be one of my new favorite words. But I always forget to use it! Thanks for reminding me!

    I’ve coined the term bedunkin’ donuts by the way in case you wanna borrow it. That is for someone with a bit more of a bedunkadunk. 😀

    AS for Dan Brown, am I really the only person looking forward to this book? It received bad reviews on Janet Reid’s blog (something about a bet, a chicken suit, and american idol).

    Also, I loved the video. It totally blew mine out of the water. But it could have something to do with him actually being published and spending the extra money to make it look fantastic! 😉

    Thanks again as usual for the wonderful links!

  32. Mira

    Good links this week – interesting. Thank you, Nathan.

    What caught my eye first were the articles making recommendations for improvements in the industry.

    Before reading those articles, my current opinion of publishers was that they are dodo heads.

    After reading the article, I continue to believe that publishers are a bunch of dodo heads, but I am expanding that category to include innovative editor John Karp.

    It’s like my own mini-version of the Pulitzers.

    Colorado. Awesome. Writer’s conferences sound so fun – I hope Nathan and all of you lucky people have a great time there!

  33. Anonymous

    NON TOPIC comment: bra, having just "watched" disk one/season 3 of "The Hills", I'm about to go back and check out all your Speidi posts.

    I'm really hoping you're not as into him as I (vaguely) remember you being. That would be a major slam to your all around credibility. Tho, honestly, why you devoted any blog space to him in the first place just makes me want to run to a restaurant, order some food and go to the bathroom so I can barf, as many of the women on the show, apparently, seem to do (who know "Um, excuse me?" could be weighted with so much, um, weightlessness?)

    I grew up here and – honestly, these people are the absolute worse (worst?) of L.A. I'm filled with shame and horror that people actually might think this show bears any relationship to reality or at least the one photographed, like my backyard, throughout.

    First, the girls don't live in West Hollywood: that complex is far from the base of the "hills" (Hollywood, presumably), across the street from a mall and down the street from a K-Mart. Although this has been extensively covered by other sites, for some reason it really riled me. WeHo residential fraudulence … what's next?!? And, the complex they seem to live is, tellingly, within smell distance of the La Brea Tar Pits. It stinks, on all counts.

    Two, I personally don't know anyone who goes to Les Deux, 40 Duece, Area or any of the bars often featured in the show – those are places an even marginally hip Angeleno would avoid like the plague … because skanks like Lauren & Co. in their ridiculous baby doll dresses and oversized totes show up, en masse, like lipstick covered cockroaches.

    Three, the amount of alcohol consumed on the show is ridiculous. It should be repackaged as a Just Say No educational video. The Heidis and Laurens and girl with bleached white wabbit teeth – they're all coke ho's/wives in training … not exactly ground breaking professions but c'mon, their acts of transgression are nauseatingly unimaginative.

    Four, is JustinBobby wearing a wig?

    Five, Brent Bolthouse, late of "SBE" entertainment, is a crook, a liar and a thief. The amount of face time given to someone who embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from his former partners is, simply, astonishing.

    Okay, rant over.

  34. Bane of Anubis

    The Author’s Publishing House or UA studios or whatever would definitely have to be backed/founded by heavy hitters – ala Dreamworks SKG… It seems like a good idea, but I imagine this top-notch self-publishing imprint would eventually morph into a typical publishing house (whatever that may be).

  35. Lara

    The Allison Brennan comments really drove home the point to me that writers have gotten drilled in “how to write queries” from the point of view of certain well-known agents. Which is great if you’re trying not to make mistakes that agents have to look past to pull out the story. But it gives us a different perspective when critiquing queries.

    It’s actually nice to hear that agents look past imperfect query letters. I think we found out a lot of nice things about agents during that whole “Thing.”

  36. Stuart Neville

    Thanks for the plug, Nathan! You’re a diamond geezer! (geezer doesn’t mean old guy over here, by the way)

    I’ll hopefully be visiting Denver some time in late October – can’t wait.

    @ PurpleCover – didn’t cost a penny. 🙂

  37. PurpleClover

    Stuart –

    Which site did you use? Or was it a program you have on your computer??

    I’m jealous. 😛

  38. Stuart Neville

    Oh, and if the vid looks a little off centre, it’s ‘cos the dimensions aren’t quite right. Embedding YouTube can be a little hit and miss.

  39. Matthew

    Ah Powerpoint, how I love thee … let me count the ways.

    But seriously, Nathan you do us a great service by posting blog entries like this. Here’s to upping your cultural icon status to new heights!

    Oh, and I agree with some of the comments saying that a collective could be a good idea.

    @Chuck H. Hey not all Borg were totally evil. I know Voyager’s a bad example but Seven of Nine did some good as a crew member there after being off collective. 🙂

  40. Ian

    “Nathan Bransford said…Ann – It’s all about the power point.”

    So, Nathan, that means it’s all about you.

    When I first came across this blog,l must admit I was fascinated by this easy access to someone with the power to make or break a writer.

    After a couple of days experiencing the sycophancy this generates, I am more appalled than fascinated.

    This is one of the most tragic sites I have come across in my journey through the wlogosphere. Perhaps,if you are lucky, one day I will write about it.

  41. Nathan Bransford


    Well, Anne and I are really good friends in real life so I hope you can forgive us for liking each other.

  42. Ruth

    "(I kid, Penguin. Your statements aren't too bad. Your contracts, on the other hand, should be sent with a free magnifying glass)."

    Hmm, that reminds me of ABNA, which I thought was a little dodgy when I read the rules for it a little while ago (I didn't enter, but was curious about it).

    The grand prize for the Amazon Break-through Novel Award is a contract with Penguin — and the winner is obligated to sign the contract "as is". That made all the hairs on my neck stand up in warning.

    While this is obviously a great chance for an unpublished writer to get published, specifying that they have to take an "as is" contract says to me that there's something wrong with that contract. Do you know anything about the ABNA contract? (It's posted online.) Is there anything really wrong with said contract, or is it just an insurance policy to stop said break-through novel from slipping through their fingers?

  43. Bane of Anubis

    How can you not be friends w/ someone standing in front of a giant bow-laden artichoke?

  44. Stuart Neville

    @PurpleCover – It was made in Adobe Flash, which is usually used for web animations and so on. It’s an easy way to make a pseudo-video, so long as you use a bit of imagination in working within its limits. I think a lot the pro trailer makers use proper video software.

    While we’re on the topic, Cindy Pon put a really good book trailer online at her blog.

  45. Mira


    Yes, I agree – I think there is some sycophancy here. You find it on all agent’s blogs, as well as in the industry in general.

    I’m not immune from it myself. The situation is very seductive.

    When I first got here, I went on all these rants about the industry in general. I ranted about how it undervalues writers. I ranted about how writers buy into it, etc. etc. I still rant sometimes, but I got most of it out of my system.

    However, participating in this blog over time, I discovered that much of the good feeling toward Nathan is genuine.

    You haven’t been around long enough to realize that alot of the praise he gets, he’s earned.

  46. Jen P

    Any amazing London Book Fair secrets to share?

  47. csmith

    @ Stuart Neville: Brilliant trailer, especially in flash. I hate to be a giant pain in the arse because it is such a good trailer (and it only comes to mind because of my job) but have you checked if the flashy images are okay for people who suffer from epilepsy? Sorry, really not trying to be a pain.

    @ Mira. *throws fistfuls of breakfast cereal, Nathan Bransford memorabilia, and a spear.* (figure you may need the spear later)

    Random aside. I wonder if any people who frequent this blog are called Nathan and have changed their moniker so as not to confuse?

    Mine is a relatively obvious pseudonym, but that is because I don’t much appreciate sounding like the bastard lovechild of the courts of Europe. I also appreciate a name that people can SPELL and that can fit on one line.

    (And no, my real name is not Nathan or any derivative thereof)

  48. PurpleClover

    Thanks Stuart!

    I’ll check into. After searching my vast brain I pulled up a memory of a program that I purchased ages ago. I believe it was Sony? Not sure.

    I’ll have to check into it but I vaguely remember making a video to music with my children and their friends. It gives me hope!

    Ian – you’re just jealous. 😛

    lol. Okay but seriously Nathan is such a likeable person in general…and he actually READS our comments. Gotta love that. It’s easy to indulge in butt-kissery. I fight the urge daily. 🙂

    Plus, if you know anything about marketing you know something about networking.

  49. PurpleClover

    P.S. I’m pretty sure that memory was attached to a grammar brain cell or two. 🙂

  50. Mira

    csmith – am I throwing the spear, or are you throwing it at me?

    Either way, I’d like my Nathan’s memorablia spear to be constructed from the breakfast cereal. You know, a spear made out of breakfast cereal. And I’d like the breakfast cereal to be Rice Krispies, so I can intimidate my enemy by making popping sounds while I’m holding it.

    Then I’d like the rice krispies to artisically spell Nathan’s name on the spear. No, never mind. I’d like it to be in the form of Nathan’s picture. So that when you look at my rice krispies spear, you’ll see Nathan’s smiling face. Then people will feel terror at the horrible rice krispy popping sound, but feel oddly reassured by Nathan’s friendly face. They will be so confused, so bamboozled, they will immediately surrender, and I will victory over my enemies.

    Can you get right on that, please.

    Thanks, Csmith – you’re the best!

  51. Cass

    Hope you have a great time in Colorado. If you see my sister, tell her I said hi!

  52. csmith

    @ Mira – I was passing the spear to you.

    I heartily concur re the rice krispy spear. However, I would suggest that I was short sighted in not suggesting a rice-crispy totem pole? Or possibly a skyscraper?

    What do you think?

    (off to bed, need to swim tomorrow, will continue with this N.B. themed plan for world domination on the morrow)

  53. Mira

    Uh oh.

    Was that sycophancy?

    Is my imagining owning a spear made of breakfast cereal that disarms my enemies through Nathan’s picture embedded in the cereal itself really a way of kssing butt?

    I certainly hope not. That would just be pathetic. I should be ashamed of myself. That would be the most miserable example of butt kissing I’ve ever seen. I would certainly hope that I could do better butt kissing than that, for crying out loud.

  54. Chuck H.

    Matthew said:”Seven of Nine did some good. . . after being off collective.”

    Yeah, and she was a hot chick after shedding the hardware and the slime suit. But I don’t think she ever yearned for the good old days of the collective.

    I’m just sayin’.

  55. Marilyn Peake

    Interesting article by David Hewson. There are already thriving small publishing houses around. Perhaps one of the oldest is City Lights Booksellers and Publishers, founded by the poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti. I imagine it would take a LOT of hard work to establish a successful publishing house along the lines of the United Artists model, but it could probably be done. When Robert Redford started the Sundance Film Festival, indie film was practically unheard of. Now new film directors take their films to the Sundance Film Festival in order to catch the attention of the major studios, and winning a Sundance Film Festival Award is a really big deal.

  56. T. Anne

    Nathan, The fact you had over 400 comments yesterday floored me.

    United Author’s sounds intriguing it’ll be interesting to follow where that goes.

    Stuart, LOVED the book trailer. Spectacular job! Adding the reviews was brilliant.

  57. Marilyn Peake

    Mira and PurpleClover,

    Your back-and-forth comments are hilarious. Thanks for the chuckles.

    I watched a show today about the swords used by Japanese Samurai warriors. Too bad they didn’t have Rice Krispies back then.

  58. allison

    Thanks for the shout out, Nathan. I learned a lot from last week, and enjoyed it. I always find something useful in your posts. Glad to be able to help!

    Allison Brennan

  59. Richard Lewis

    Why are we furriners always discriminated against? It’s not fair! Yeah, so I live in Bali, surf and beach babes if you want, clubs and grooves if you want that, ancient temples and healing shamans and high colonics if you’re into alternative spirituality — but *I* want a free printer!

  60. Jason Crawford

    Wow Nathan, as a technical writer, I must say, that was some pretty good technical instruction. 🙂

  61. Marilyn Peake

    Ooooops … I messed up the links. Let me try that again …

    Independent presses getting attention recently:

    Other Press

  62. Laurel

    Epub is already here and will just get bigger. It will probably end up being a morph of the current model, with an editorial process, and some of the fledgling companies already in existence. Of course Amazon is already doing something like this.

    I left textbook publishing recently and the question I most often heard from students at student orientation was “Can I buy just the ebook?” followed by “Is it cheaper?” The crowd coming out of college and grad school right now is actually just as happy, if not more so, with digital copy as an actual book.

    Everyone seems frustrated with the current system to a certain extent. The collective idea needs some polish but it would be nice to have an alternative. Competition makes everyone better!

  63. Jen C

    RE: all of us sycophants, I think that people just want to share the love, which is a good thing, not a bad thing. Nathan is a really decent guy, and I think if he was writing a blog about funny things his cat does people would still like it and bring on the love fest.

    PS Nathan, do you have a cat? If so, can you start writing about funny things it does? One “Stuff on My Cat” is just not enough…

  64. Other Lisa

    Ugh. Take 2:


    At the risk of sounding sycophantic…a lot of commenters on this blog have queried Nathan and been passed on. Others are agented elsewhere. And others are interested in exploring alternate roads to publication that may not even involve agents.

    So I’d like to suggest that there may be reasons beyond sycophancy that draw people here. Like, it’s a friendly, informative place in what can be a very tough business.

  65. Laurel

    Other Lisa,

    I know, right? I have no plans to query Nathan. I like to read the blog. Plus it’s fun to go somewhere sort of apolitical.

    I’m pretty amazed at the amount of time he spends doing this in addition to regular job requirements. And he seems infinitely patient with the questions. Even when someone asks for information already on the site he just tells them where to find it. I’m not that sweet.

    I thought maybe Ian was kidding and the sarcasm didn’t come through in print.

  66. Anonymous

    Thanks for telling those of us who didn’t grow up with all this techno-crap how to leave a comment. I’m making mine anonymous because I’m sure you think my tone is sarcastic and you won’t appreciate me when I’m a famous writer. Also because I would have to create an account and that is just way too much work to leave a comment.

    You may hear more from me in the future, but it depends on how much work it takes for me to switch applications at my boring writing area between sips of lattes. I’m very busy.

  67. PurpleClover

    anonymous 5:19- I like you! You’re alright in my book. 🙂

    Why is the “s” sticking on my keyboard…must interrogate children…

  68. DeAnna

    Hope to see you at the conference!

    Appallingly, I forgot to check up on the author-for-a-day project and missed out on being able to enter reviews. I went back last night and read all the queries…wow. I didn’t pick ANY of the published stories. On the other hand, I didn’t think any of the queries of the stories that were published were all that good, so I feel less intimidated.


  69. karen wester newton

    Nathan– I know you’ll have a great time at PPWC. It’s a wonderful conference. They may be all volunteers (except for Martha), but those folks know what they’re doing.

    This post was very interesting.

  70. Laurie

    Have a wonderful time in Colorado, Nathan!

    I know you are really busy, but if you have time someday, could you answer a question about the role of agents at writers conferences? There is an annual conference near my home and every year writers can sign up for a private manuscript evaluation with an agent or editor.

    It’s an additional charge of about $150 for a half an hour. Do you think this is worth the money?

    I have several writing friends who have paid the money and were encouraged to submit material that was later rejected. One year the agent pretty much encouraged everyone to submit, only to turn them all down. The writing community where I live is pretty small so I heard the same story from many different people.

    Would writers be better off saving the money and just submitting the old fashion way, or does meeting someone at a conference get a manuscript more attention than the slush pile?

    Thanks for any light you can shine on this subject!

  71. hippokrene

    @ Miri

    I don’t believe publishers are ‘dodo heads.’ They’re businessmen like everyone and trying to get by in what is a very tough industry.

  72. PurpleClover

    LOL Am I the only person that just realized the whole “@” thing just took off? (Thanks to Stuart!)

    I mean seriously…did I just not notice it before or did this just start today?

    If people have been doing this a while then forgive me but this is the first time I’ve noticed it.

  73. Mira

    Oh, let’s try that again.

    First, Marilyn, thanks. And thanks for the link.


    I’m tired and sort of in an argumentative mood today. I really didn’t mean to say that individual publishers were dodo heads. I’m sorry I said that Jon Karp was – I’m sure he’s a good person trying to find solutions to difficult problems. I shouldn’t sum him up like that, that was awful. Sorry.

    It’s the publishing industry as a whole that, I believe, makes terrible business decisions. Those terrible business decisions are long-standing and have nothing to do with the current economy.

    That’s my belief. I think the industry as a whole is a dodo head when it comes to business.

    Not individuals.

  74. Mira

    Oh, if you want to know why I think the publishing industry is a dodo head, it’s because it is the only major industry that has no concept whatsoever of the importance of marketing.

    It’s bizarre that it makes any money at all.

    I’ve ranted about this alot on this blog.

  75. Dana

    I am so excited that you are coming to Colorado. Can’t wait to meet you! So, if you see a “voluptuous and sensuous” blond (the words of a fellow writer who asked if she can take my picture because I remind her of her character) that’s me! 🙂 Hope to see you soon. Oh… and drink lots of water… you’re coming up just a few feet in elevation here. 😉

  76. mkcbunny

    The collective idea is really interesting. In my experience, it works well for visual artists trying to gain control of their options (guaranteed shows, higher profit, control over who you show with and the space you show in, among other things). In that model, the spaces that I have seen work well have high-quality creative talents involved who are also business-minded.

    This could work for writers, but it does seem to me that in order for it to really work, you’d also need to involve an editor, copy editor, accountant, business manager and someone in what would amount to the agent position for the group. So, isn’t that, as noted in the original blog, just a small publishing house?

    Maybe a writer-owned/driven house is the way, but I do think that it would morph into a small publisher pretty quickly. And once the core group is rolling, do they vet and add new folks? I would think that they would want to to increase the business.

    Then, those core founders would have to start devoting more time to managing their collective. And what’s their percentage/extra benefit from that? The quality of the business? That’d work for starters, but eventually, I’d think the time commitment would inspire a desire for compensation. That could be built into the starting formula, but that would necessitate forethought in setting up the business plan and contracts for incoming writers.

    All interesting questions, I think, as far as whether it’s an adventure to embark upon. Some writers would be far better suited to it than others.

  77. Marilyn Peake

    PurpleClover said:
    “@” thing just took off? (Thanks to Stuart!)

    I mean seriously…did I just not notice it before or did this just start today?
    @ is used on Twitter. Is that why people started using it here? Just wondered. It drove me nuts for a bit on Twitter, until I figured out how Twitter was using it. On Twitter, @ designates the person being addressed or referred to.

  78. Jen C

    @ is pretty common around the ol’ Interweb traps. In fact, the idea to use @ on Twitter came from the members, not the creators. People just started using it to get the attention of who they were talking to, and the creators picked up on that and made it a feature.

  79. Marilyn Peake

    Jen C,

    Thanks. Interesting. I never saw @ used that way till I got on Twitter.

  80. AravisGirl

    LOVE the guide to commenting 😀

  81. csmith

    @ Mira

    OMG NO! I must be enabling your syncophancy.

    Oh Well, mother always told me if something is worth doing, it is worth doing well.

    *Begins a ‘lighthouse at halicarnassus’ sized monument to Nathan out of rice crispies*

  82. Other Lisa

    @Mira – I agree. I think the inability to connect readers to books that interest them is one of the biggest problems in publishing. As a good friend of mine, a huge reader, says, “Where is my iTunes for books?”

    Word verification: ballypo. It feels like it should mean something profound, but I’m not sure what.

  83. Maya

    Nathan, I stole the “Agent for a Day” idea for my AP English classes, and it worked beautifully. My students became “Exam Graders for a Day” and got to experience grading 18 of the same essays (from their classmates). It worked beautifully, and they came away UNDERSTANDING lessons I’ve tried to teach them all year (i.e., Why it’s Unwise to use the First Idea that Pops into your Head). So thanks for giving me such a good idea… maybe this activity will become the meme to defeat the #fail meme! (Nah, probably not.)

  84. Writer from Hell

    There and i thought you preferred emails. But thanks for informing how to post comments here in an idiot proof guide. I am finally posting a comment here!

  85. Laurel


    I’m glad that worked so well in your class. I experienced the same as a student in my college senior seminar and it was a cool assignment. We all swapped seminar papers, meant to be the apex of our work as English majors. I chose The Sound and The Fury as my subject. Unfortunately the tool who got my paper tried to rip it to shreds in front of the class.

    I was vindicated, however, in two ways. He picked on a Biblical reference I pulled from the book, citing my analysis as a mistake. (I’ll never forget it. “Benjanin, beloved youngest son of Jacob” was what I wrote. He corrected me in an offhand manner with,”Actually, it was Israel but that’s not important,” to which I responded, “Jacob and Israel were the same person.” He had been so rough on my work that the class applauded.) Since I was raised Baptist, the Southern variety, it’s not a good idea to wrangle with me on scripture.

    I got the highest grade in the class on my paper. HA!

    My point is this. I think this tendency to look for flaws leads us to see non-existent problems, which happened some in the query contest. I’ve seen it everywhere some sort of peer review is employed.

  86. Heather


    I found something seemingly contradictory. In the article by Jon Karp, he says, “Stop the copycat books… They are the equivalent of pack journalism, and most of the time, we wind up looking like a bunch of rats chasing a chunk of stale cheese.”

    This seems to go against your comments following the Agent-for-a-Day contest when you stated, “originality is (somewhat) overrated…” I think that you might have been talking in terms of originality in creating “new genres” is over-rated, but was wondering if you could tease that out more?

  87. marye.ulrich

    Thanks for the article link from David Hewson. I found the graphs (Author's manuscript –> readers)fascinating. They sum up the differences in two in-your-face visuals.

    The link about United Artists was a great companion piece.

    The opportunities for change seem to be floating in the wind… humm,is the virtual wind–actually Twitter?

  88. Eva Ulian

    Could I please make an appeal on your site Nathan?
    I need to know how “to highlight my vision for marketing my book” – Anyone have any suggestions of what I could do?


    or comments on the web

  89. PurpleClover

    Ah! Thanks Marilyn and Jen C.

    I am brand new to Twitter so I’m still trying to figure it out.

    I jut thought it was cute that suddenly it took off on the comment. 🙂

  90. Mira

    Wow. I really was tired last night.

    I re-read Jon Karp’s suggestions. It’s not like everything he said has no merit. And I’m sure he is a nice person trying to find solustions. But basically, I stand by my original assertion:

    Jon Karp is a dodo head.

    At least in that article.

  91. Mira

    Other Lisa, thanks, I couldn’t agree more! I hope that the new electronic age helps publishers see the benefit of marketing, but I’m not holding my breath.

    Here are my 12 suggestions for improvements in the publishing industry:

    1. Do an overall market analysis.
    2. Pick a market.
    3. Envision a product that will sell to that market.
    4. Put out a call for that product.
    5. Find product(s).
    6. Prepare product for distribution.
    7. Focus test product.
    8. Distribute product.
    9. Advertise product.
    10. Advertise product.
    11. Advertise product.
    12. Advertise product.

    13. Rake in the money.
    14. Use some of that money on developing new products that might find a market.

    That way you could avoid some of mr. dodo head’s suggestions, like downsizing, and forcing authors to market out of their already miniscule percentage of the pie.

  92. Mira

    Actually, I’d switch #6 and #7.

    Why has noone put me in charge of the world yet?

    It just baffles me.

  93. Laurel


    Probably just a little concerned that your world vision might change as frequently as your profile pic. heehee

  94. RW

    Ian, can you loan me your sincerity detector? I’ve always wanted the magic ability to walk into a room full of people and instantly know who was full of it.

  95. Kate H

    Re: United Authors

    I have a feeling the negatives would outweigh the positives of this model, although I like the idea theoretically. But what I want to see is some model (no idea what it would look like) in which:
    a) writers get to be writers, not business people, not marketers; and
    b) good writers get to make a living from writing.

    As it stands now, authors are increasingly expected to do more and more of what used to be the publisher’s job, but they are not getting a bigger piece of the pie. In fact, of all the people involved in the publishing process, writers are the only ones who (in the vast majority of cases) cannot make a living from their contribution. And the writers are the ones without whom the industry would not exist!

    One can adduce all kinds of reasons this situation is inevitable, but fair it is not.

  96. Dana Stabenow

    Excellent blog, Nathan, I forward it to everyone, including my own agent. I’m de-lurking for just a moment to suggest that you add a Share button so your readers can post entries they like to their Facebook et al pages. Thanks!

  97. Mira

    Laurel, I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again:

    I’m never wrong. I can’t help it if the truth changes all the time.

    Kate H. – I could not agree more! Very eloquent – thank you!

    Although I’m not sure how much the publishing industry care that the system is not fair to writers. I do think the paradigm will shift with e-publishing, and writers will have a chance to take their power back.

    The idea of a collective is a part of that shift, I think.

  98. Mira

    Wanda – I’m sorry maybe I’m confused.

    The first two of the twelve I read was: “no more kabuki theatre” and “prioritize and specialize.”

    Are we reading different articles?

    The main reason I thought Jon Karp’s article represented him as a dodo head is it’s mostly about saving money, and not about making money. Also, there are parts of it that are exploitive and short-sighted.

    Just my opinion.

    Oh. Wait. Are you talking about Twelve’s mission statement?

    Oh. Well, I haven’t read their mission statement. I’m sure it’s a very nice mission statement.

    I have no experience of twelve as a company. I was talking about Jon Karp’s (mostly) dodo head ideas.

  99. Mira

    If you think I’m bad, calling industry players ‘dodo heads’ you should meet Troubadour.

    He’s the Character of the Week at Come In Character.

    He’s evil and sucks souls.

    On the other hand, I doubt he’s ever called anyone a ‘dodo head.’ I guess there are lines that even he won’t cross.

    Come meet him, if you dare:

    Come In Character: Character of the Week: Troubadour

  100. Mira

    Hey. Do you think Jon Karp reads this blog?

    I just realized I may not be anonymously posting in some remote corner of the universe, and maybe he would see this, and I’m being mean.

    Not that he should care what some remote person who not only isn’t published but hasn’t written a darn thing thinks….but still.

    I’m sorry.

    Okay. Never mind. I’m going back to the idea that he is probably a really nice person who is trying to find complex solutions to complicated problems. He’s not a dodo head.

    I take it back.

  101. Nathan Bransford


    I wouldn’t pay the fee in order to get the manuscript in front of the agent (you could do that for free by querying) but only if you really and truly want the feedback. Other writers who have had critiques at conferences would probably be better at weighing in on whether they thought it was worth it.

  102. Mira

    Okay, I’m talking too much here. I’ll be quiet for awhile.

    But Wanda – I get so caught up, I forget I’m talking to a friend.

    I’m glad Twelve has been good to you! You deserve to have a good company to work with.

  103. Nathan Bransford


    Thanks for the suggestion on the Facebook button. I made the change, it should start showing up soon.

  104. Anonymous

    This is a test run. My last comment didn’t show up where it should have….did I screw up and harass Nathan at his email account? Really, this is stupidly easy and I am not stupid. I hope.

  105. Anonymous

    It worked! So where the hell did my other comment go?

  106. PurpleClover

    I would like to know anyone’s take on whether conferences are helpful in getting a request and/or agent.

    Please let me know if there is a post that discusses this.

  107. Anonymous

    Great trailer!

  108. Mira

    SIB’s, I LOVE it. 🙂

    I predict that someday, YOU will be Twelve’s dream author.

    By the way, since you are all my very close friends, and this site is so quiet, I will now share with you that at 1:30 a.m yesterday, I opened a letter that officially accepted me to Grad school.

    Yea! Happy, happy, happy.

  109. Mira

    Forum game today at Come In CharacterI know you guys aren’t doing anything. You’re just staring at the computer screen hoping someone will post.

    So, why not come over and play?

  110. Marilyn Peake

    Mira said:
    “By the way, since you are all my very close friends, and this site is so quiet, I will now share with you that at 1:30 a.m yesterday, I opened a letter that officially accepted me to Grad school.”

    Yaaaaaay, Mira! Congratulations!!

  111. Elaine 'still writing' Smith

    Hey Mira – I’m as proud as a proud thing for your achievement – good luck in the Grad school!

  112. PurpleClover


    Congrats Mira!

  113. hippokrene

    @ Wanda

    “It’s interesting (to me at least) the relationship between Tampax and women who write/make art about menstruation…and how that ends up being presented to the general public in their advertising…even though it’s about menstruation, the whole thing has a bit of a…Cheneyian (is that a word?) feel to it…and I turn, become a “Voldemortian” figure, she-who-shall-not-be-named (with a nod to Rowling)…you have no idea what I’m talking about, do you? Didn’t think so.”What are you talking about?

    Keep in mind I know nothing about ‘Tampax,’ ‘women who write/make art about menstruation,’ or how that relates to Dick Cheney.

  114. Mira

    Marilyn, Elaine and Purple Clover,

    Thanks, guys! You’re the best.

  115. Laurel


    Cute pic! Congrats. Feed your hungry brain!

  116. Mira

    Laurel and Wanda, thanks too! I like having SIBs. 🙂

    I highly recommend getting accepted to college. Yesterday, I noticed small changes through out the day. For example, I was suddenly smarter. People were nicer. The sunshine was brighter. Cars got out of my way on the freeway. Little birds sang when I walked by. I’m not postive, but I think I saw the faires doing a rainbow dance in my honor.

    Who knew?

    Boy, if this is what happens just being accepted, I may not even bother actually going.

  117. PurpleClover

    Whered had my grammer fairies got to?

  118. Mira

    Oh Wanda, thanks for the advice. I’ll keep it in mind.

    But honestly, I’m not too worried about someone getting in my head. I have a pretty full head. Be hard to fit someone else in there. 🙂

  119. PurpleClover

    Wanda –

    My post above sounded harsher than I intended (after reading it again).

    My suggestion is if you want to be a spokesperson and write books for a company consider dropping the TSS from any mention and consider a new company — Playtex, for instance. Tampax may have you on their “avoid” list already. The great thing about Playtex is they are more family friendly so you could get more opportunities for future writes. More exposure. Plus if Tampax has a spokesperson…maybe that would be a great pitch for Playtex. 🙂

    Maybe you’re the next “it” they’re looking for.

    Just a suggestion. Unless I’ve totally confused myself with the intent of your comments.

  120. PurpleClover

    And Nathan –

    Us Pavlonian dogs are waiting for the bell.

    Just sayin…

  121. freddie

    Sycophancy? That wasn’t an album by the Police?

  122. Tristan

    I noticed that you are very receptive to query letters. How many query letters do you receive daily? Do you really have time to read them all?

  123. Kate H

    I have found writers’ conferences helpful in meeting agents. Sometimes you can get an agent’s attention in person whereas if you sent a query in the usual way it might not get past their assistant. But do your homework beforehand and make sure the agents who will be at the conference are really agents who might be interested in your work and whom you really want to work with.

    If you do get agent interest at a conference, don’t let your hopes soar too stratospherically. On more than once occasion, I’ve had strong interest expressed and still not had the deal ultimately go through. In one case, the agent suggested a revision, then left the industry before I could get her the revised manuscript!

  124. PurpleClover

    Thanks Kate,

    That seems to be the response I’m getting is that if you are looking to get noticed in the slush, conferences can be a great opportunity. But I haven’t seen stats or numbers (I’m a numbers kind of gal).

    Anyone with a powerpoint? 😉 kidding!

    (no but seriously…if you do CALL ME!)

  125. Liz

    I read the United Authors blog post you listed (and thank you very much for pointing to it – very good analysis), and I have a question for you.

    What would you do if you received a query from a debut writer, it looked very strong, you fell in love with the manuscript, got in touch with the author to talk about representation, and they floated this to you: “I’d like to represent myself to publishers/self-publish for print and ebooks (and btw here’s my marketing plan and editorial resources), but I’d like your representation for foreign distribution, tv and film.”

    According to the blog post, this is the way of the future, but would any agent be ready to go for that? It seems the business model would be difficult to manage in the transition while the agent still had their hands full with clients under more conventional terms.

    TIA for any thoughts you have on this.

  126. Kate

    Mea Culpa…I was energized by the invitation and just hit reply.
    Until your note, I wasn't even aware I had done it. Thanks for reminding me.

  127. Anonymous

    Hi Nathan,

    I hate to bother you, but I can't post to the contest thread. It says that posts were stopped by an administrator.


  128. Harbinger of Truth

    No dispespect to those who HAVE self published, but Faulkner, Hemmingway, Stienbeck and Melville didn't self publish. We know their names because literary giants put their work in a place where it COULD be seen and accessed readily by the general public.
    We are slowly becoming a society of the illiterate. The only way to become huge in publishing nowadays is either to be a celebrity or be the latest favorite of Oprah Winfrey's book club.
    Those who self publish unless they have unlimited resources or trust funds are doomed to obscurity or the obligatory 12 copies of their novel that their mothers buy. I've said my piece, and if you give a damn read my blog.

  129. Betty T

    I walked up the stairs, slowly. I looked at the blanket laid out and thought of the Mad Hatter’s tea party. I watched as he went through the preparations with a dogged sense of purpose. He counted out and examined half a dozen mud-coloured moths, pulling their wings apart and smelling them. He placed them in the cup of the thermos and then poured boiling water over them, explaining that it was like making tea. ‘The longer they steep, the stronger the brew.’ I never drank tea. I checked my watch to be safe. I would give it five minutes.
    ‘Not long now.’ He swirled his finger into the mud-coloured water as the moths floated on the surface. ‘I’ll throw these out in a second and then we can drink it.’ He looked into the cup’s muddy depths. ‘You can see the sediment sink to the bottom of the cup. Just about—’
    I couldn’t restrain myself any longer. I burst out with, ‘Why are you doing this?’
    He looked at me sideways. ‘Because I enjoy it. It’s a full-body experience. Face it, April, how could you really love butterflies and moths without actually trying one?’
    I nodded as though I understood. Henry had a point. His rebuff implied that I wasn’t a real lepidopterist if I wasn’t prepared to eat one.
    I nodded, taking the cup from his hand, blowing on its steaming surface. The smell was familiar, something like honeyed tea. I raised the cup to my lips and tasted the muddy drink, gagging with disgust. The flavour was worse than I thought possible, reminding me of medicinal herbs. I sipped the gritty water, closing my eyes as I swallowed. I gulped six mouthfuls and handed the cup back to Henry.
    ‘Give it ten to twelve minutes and we’ll know what kind of moths we have.’
    Still speechless, I stared at him. I’d finally done something unpredictable, something I had no control over. I watched as he wrapped his lips around the white rim of the cup, slurping on its chewy plastic. He drained the remainder of the tea and when he had finished he wiped his sleeve across his mouth. But the action appeared to be magnified. Was it really working as quickly as that?
    From where we sat at the top of the stairs I could see the whole property, how it stretched out to the sea in a sprawling green mass. A map would never do it justice; it would never convey the property’s depth, its height, its creepiness. Nor could it speak of the forest’s manic growth. I sighed and leant back against the cottage, sliding toward Henry.
    ‘Are you all right?’
    I ran my tongue over my lips; they felt fuzzy and fat. A wave of intense nausea inched up my throat and I swallowed over a bulk that threatened to explode from me. In slow motion, I reached for the bottle of water, drinking half it in one thirsty gulp.

  130. PoDs

    Robert stepped around the Nissan’s raised hood to where Yvonne had collapsed in the dirt, cigarettes and purse contents scattered, visible in the light of the security lamp overhead.
    “Oh god,” she whimpered.
    He opened the passenger door. “Get up. Get in the car.”
    She scrabbled around, gathered her things and hurried into the front seat, one shoe in hand.
    “You stay put. I mean it.”
    She nodded, eyes big, mouth pinched. He shut her door and went back to the front of the car. The man on the ground moaned, sobbing above the noise of the music and the dogfight crowd back in the courtyard.
    Robert held the negative cable clamp in place, then, with one quick blow, hammered it onto the battery terminal with the bolt cutter. The headlights came on, quick-flashing as the alarm began to cycle in short blasts—whoop whoop whoop.
    He had hardly dropped the hood shut and positioned himself at the corner of the building when two men came charging out through the beaded curtain. They ran around the truck, then plowed to a stop before the man moaning on the ground. They squinted at Yvonne in the Nissan’s passenger seat, then one of them spotted Robert in the shadows.
    “¡Ay, chinga!” the man cried, and the two almost ran over each other, hurrying back inside.
    In the same moment, several men came running out of the rear courtyard’s side entrance. They raced forward, grabbing at the burros' halters, trying to calm them. Helmut plunged out, dodging past the men and the burros. Ana ran limping close on his heels.
    Helmut came to a stop when he saw Yvonne’s startled face staring at him through the passenger window. Ana stopped too, her expression changing to shock as Robert raced past her with the bolt cutter. She cried out and Helmut spun around, pulling a small automatic from the knapsack. Robert swung the bolt cutter as Helmut fired. The bullet whanged against the cutter, and the two of them went down in a tangle of arms and legs. Helmut, fingers bloodied, lost his grip on the gun, but Robert held on to the bolt cutter, struggling to get it over his head for leverage. Ana grabbed the pistol out of the dirt and shoved the muzzle against his temple.
    “Stop!” she screamed, shaking so badly he thought she would shoot him accidentally if not on purpose. He let go his grip on Helmut and stepped back, huffing for breath. Helmut charged him. Robert stepped aside, stuck his foot out and jerked Helmut forward by his shirtfront so that Helmut tripped headlong into the dirt. Robert raised the bolt cutter just as Ana fired the automatic. The bullet hit the building behind and sang off into the night. The dogs and burros, already made frantic with the car honking and the headlights flashing, panicked further, the burros dragging their cinderblock anchors among the pickups and trucks, the men diving behind whichever vehicle was handiest.

    J. R. Jones
    512 836-5699
    (novel excerpt)

  131. Larry

    The gecko seemed to never tire, crawling over the florescent orange paint . My sleep deprived eyes followed the gecko unable to sleep, the ceiling fan wobbling side-to-side, stirring the hot air. I lay full of fear, sweating profusely unable to rest.
    A quiet tapping on my door produced a hard knocking in my chest as my heart beat against the prison of my bones, instantly awakening me. I crept slowly to the window, the gecko now watching me, I peered outside.
    "Mr Mickey Stone, sorry to bother you," Miss Lily said.
    I tried to silence the pounding of my heart.
    One moment, Miss Lily, I'll be right there," I managed to cry out.
    Miss Lily the owner of the Baan Thai house stood smiling all 4'10" of her.
    An almost imperceptable curtsy bow, hands pressed together she said,"Sa-wut-dee krup, Mr Mickey. I so sorry to bother you but two men were here asking for you."
    I nervously bowed back, "Sa-wut-dee kha, Miss Lily," I managed to utter.
    "Do you know who they were or did they leave a message" I asked looking nervously in the hallway.
    " No Mr Mickey, I do not know. They waited and watched the house for some time."
    Each evening, the centre of Chiang Mai comes alive as a night market and bazaar. Stalls are squeezed in side-by-side in front of local shops and restaurants. Shoppers are followed by insistent Karen hill tribe people selling their colourful handicraft souvenirs, antiques and fake Rolex watches. The smells of local cuisine cooking out on the streets, mingling magically with the colors and dialects of the people, as the street goes on and on. Foot and body massage parlors scattered up and down the street.
    A Starbucks across the street caught my eye and I wandered over for a cup of dark roast black.
    That was my first mistake and the beginning of a nightmare that would forever change me.
    I turned to leave sipping cautiously."
    "Chwy chun ka!" A beautiful young Thai woman grabbed my arm, tugging on my shirt."Chwy chun ka", she whispered afraid and trembling.
    My coffee scalded me as three Thai men grabbed the young woman pushing me to the ground and glaring intently at me.
    I rushed nervously away glancing over my shoulder, seeing her fighting, kicking,her screams drowned out by the sounds of the night market. The men's hands rushing over her body, searching her, throwing her to the ground. I saw them look at me finding me in the crowd and come towards me.
    I jumped into a tuk-tuk screaming at the driver, "Go, Go!". After a few blocks I threw 10 bahts at him and ran down a side street. Hunched over gasping for breath, I saw a cigarette lit, a lone man, walking slowly my direction. Paranoia swept over me I dared not breath as the man approached.
    "Sa-wut-dee krup" the ancient man uttered through a cavity filled mouth. I could not respond except to nod my head.

    Larry Wilburn
    1623 Kidd Rd.
    Jonesboro, Ga. 30236

  132. Heather Anne

    Vic was an exceptional vampire. He’d acclimated himself in a very short time, discovered his new powers and utilized them to facilitate his kills. It was as if he’d been a vampire-in-waiting all of his human life, and now he was finally free. The cemetery worker was the 28th murder victim and Vic had only been a vampire for 48 hours.
    His salty scent was everywhere. I morphed into bat form and followed it; my body tensed for action, my incisors aching. The scent of Vic was getting stronger, filling my compact body and providing direction to my flight. I skimmed the roads, flying through alleys and side streets at sonic speed until I hit a wall of blood.
    Victor was below me, his blond hair blowing in the wind, his incisors bared and dripping blood. The body of his latest victim was a lifeless heap. He sniffed the air, scenting me.
    Vic transformed into a bat faster than I knew was possible for a vampire his age. We were suddenly hurtling through the streets, Vic executing hairpin turns. He was incredibly fast. He turned towards the steel smelting section of town. The place shone with hot, stinking brilliance, electric lights punctuating the darkness as smelters glowed hot red. We swooped through the metallic air.
    Whizzing around an enormous smokestack, Vic disappeared from view. I followed the tight round corners until I sighted Vic, hurtling towards an open door. I followed. The hot air enveloped us as we sped through the smelting facility. To our left, a huge vat of boiling liquid steel was being hoisted and poured into a line of molds, orange sparks flying in an arch of glistening heat. Vic spun around the vat, circled and zoomed past me. I turned, followed him outside, bursting into the night.
    I scanned the glowing world, then Vic smashed into me at sonic speed and down we went, spinning into a sea of hot steel. I lengthened my wings; controlling the speed of descent as I watched Vic spin, spin out of control. He obviously hadn’t discovered the trick of shifting shape in motion. He smashed into a smokestack, rolled over and was swallowed by the hot, glowing furnace.
    Vic could plausibly survive a dousing in fire if he got out fast enough. If he didn’t, his blood would evaporate and he’d burn up like so many rags. It was almost too simple to hope for. Flying around the glowing pyramid, I sniffed the opening. All I got was a miniscule whiff of Vic in the burning heat that belched up. Searching for an entrance, I flew until light streamed from an open door and I swooped in, following the direction of the smoke stack. It led to a huge furnace that glowed orange-red. It was shut tight. There was no way that Vic could have exited, no chance he got through the opening with me watching, and no way he could have survived the heat within. Vic was a problem of the past.



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Hi, I’m Nathan. I’m the author of How to Write a Novel and the Jacob Wonderbar series, which was published by Penguin. I used to be a literary agent at Curtis Brown Ltd. and I’m dedicated to helping authors chase their dreams. Let me help you with your book!

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