Typos: Condemnation for Common Mistakes

Originally posted on The Misfortune Of Knowing:

Miss Steaks from Spell Checker Poem

Once, after filing a 49-page appellate brief in a case, I received the following email from a well-established attorney in my practice area:

I did not want to undercut the ‘thank you’ email I sent on Saturday by mentioning anything negative [about the brief you filed], but there’s something you may have noted already, but which, in case not, I draw to your attention for the future: the proofing needs to be done more carefully.

The sender then complained that my brief contained two small typos and one incomplete citation. Thankfully, all of these mistakes were in pro forma portions of the brief that the judges were unlikely to read, but I felt awful about them, particularly after spending nearly three weeks drafting and proofreading the damn thing. I read the brief from cover to cover multiple times, as did several other attorneys involved in the case, and not one…

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Theodor S. Geisel Awards Re-connects High School Classmates (46 Years Later!)

me and laylaAbove left–Layla Fiske, author of The Fig Orchard, with Lee Fullbright, author of The Angry Woman Suite

 

I have a story to tell—a short story, perhaps a dozen paragraphs. It’s about two girls who loved reading and writing above almost all else. They came of age in the 1950’s-60’s, in a suburb of San Diego called Allied Gardens, colloquially known as “Rabbit Hill,” because of the large number of children (who would one day be called “boomers”) who lived there with their very fertile parents (if you’re a post-boomer, google “rabbit test”).

One of the girls—Leila—lived at the top of the hill, where the bookmobile (post-boomers: google this too) parked every other Tuesday afternoon. The other girl was Eileen. She lived at the bottom, and had a long walk up Rabbit Hill on bookmobile days, over two miles, but she didn’t care; she’d have walked ten miles to check out five new-to-her books.

Now these two very young girls went to different elementary schools, and didn’t actually know of the other until their promotions to the large, and only, junior high school on Rabbit Hill. But even had they seen the other at the bookmobile on one of those Tuesday afternoons, they would’ve had no way of knowing they were looking at a soon-to-be peer who would, as a young adult, disappear from the other’s life, only to reappear mirroring a common dream, focus, and tenacity.

And so it follows that neither child could have known that this reappearance would not occur for over a half-century.

At their even larger, over-crowded high school, where it was way too easy to get and feel lost, the two girls had the same English teacher—but then, later, as is often the case after graduations, the two teenagers’ paths diverged. And although they stayed in the same city, Leila and Eileen never ran into each other in town, or at their high school reunions. They did, though, continue their reading and writing, separately and prolifically.

Over forty years passed before Eileen, whose name was now shortened to Lee, finished her second novel, one she considered possibly publishable, about a family in so much crisis only an unsolved double murder kept its members together. Lee’s agent titled it The Angry Woman Suite.

The Angry Woman Suite went on to win many awards, but the one Lee had always yearned after—the San Diego Book Awards’ Theodor A. Geisel Award for “best of the best”—is her treasure. It’s the award from her city (San Diego, eighth largest in the U.S.).

A year later, while perusing the nominated books for the 2014 San Diego Book Awards, Lee came across a photo of a woman she thought looked familiar, named Layla Fiske. Layla had written an award-winning novel titled The Fig Orchard, a story inspired by Layla’s grandfather’s capture by Ottoman Turkish soldiers and her grandmother’s subsequent choice of remarriage (entailing giving her children to her husband’s family), or finding a way to support her family on her own. She chose the latter, traveling to a convent in Jerusalem to learn the art of midwifery, then returning to her village to support and raise her children by herself.

But Lee couldn’t place Layla, so she messaged her, told her who she was, and asked if they knew each other.

Did they ever. Turned out Layla Fiske was the “Leila” who’d grown up in Allied Gardens at the same time Lee (then Eileen) Fullbright did. Oh, what a revelation! And oh, the perfection of it all, that two bookish Allied Gardens girls were now both authors! Of course, it was practically ordained that they re-meet, and so they did, forty-six years after their high school graduation, almost to the day.

Okay, isn’t this a cool story? Even if it is mine and Layla’s?

And wouldn’t you know I had to be out of town the night of this year’s San Diego Book Awards Association’s ceremony, and was on pins and needles rooting for Layla, waiting to hear if she’d won her category. At 10:10 p.m., I got the text that read, “I won!!!!!” which had me dancing around the room, and then wondering if Layla Fiske had captured the Theodor S. Geisel Award (for “best of the best” of 25 categories) as well. And of course she had!

So, yes, even more perfection—and then the inevitable and rhetorical question: What’re the chances that two authors from the same ‘hood would win back to back “best of the best” Theodor S. Geisel Awards?

And that the journey, begun so many years earlier, would start with a hill and a bookmobile.

(NOT) THE END

Book Cover Front for The Fig OrchardNEW TAWS cover

Richard III: Science Trumps Shakespeare

roomsofourown:

Fascinating topic (by one of my favorite bloggers) … I’ve read Tey’s book as well….

Originally posted on The Misfortune Of Knowing:

Two RichardsEver since archaeologists excavated King Richard III’s remains from a parking lot in Leicester, England in 2012, researchers have been working hard to uncover his 500-year-old secrets.* They have confirmed the ruler’s identity through mitochondrial DNA testing, discovered he had roundworms (but no other parasites) in his intestines, and have now learned that his spinal curvature wasn’t extreme enough to warrant the physical description Shakespeare gave him in the eponymous play, Richard III (1592).

Most of us know of Richard III through Shakespeare, who portrays the controversial last Plantagenet King as a villain responsible for the murders of his nephews, the Princes in the Tower, among other deaths. Shakespeare connects Richard III’s treacherous behavior to his physical appearance, describing him as “deform’d,” “unfinish’d,” and as a “bunch-back’d toad.”

As it turns out, though, Shakespeare’s description of Richard III’s wasn’t exactly right. In The Lancet (May 31, 2014),

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Why Is The Media Ignoring Author Exploitation By Publishers?

Originally posted on David Gaughran:

prhasiThe Amazon-Hachette dispute has caught the media’s attention. But what about the story the media refuses to cover?

The media is more concerned with one-sided accounts of Amazon’s perceived actions – when no one really knows the exact nature of the dispute.

The media is more concerned with what Amazon might do in the future, than actual author exploitation by the world’s largest trade publisher: Penguin Random House.

Penguin Random House owns the world’s largest vanity press – Author Solutions – which is currently subject to a class action for deceptive business practices, breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and violation of business statutes in California, New York, and Colorado.

The court papers cover the same ground that I’ve been blogging about for the last three years, that Writer Beware has spent even longer documenting, and others like Emily Suess and Mick Rooney have covered in extensive detail.

If…

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Did Apple Leave Amazon’s Kindle “in the Dust”?

Originally posted on The Misfortune Of Knowing:

conclusion of apple caseIn The Judge that Apple Hates (June 2014), Vanity Fair profiles the federal judge at the helm of United States v. Apple Inc., the case filed by the U.S. Department of Justice against Apple and five traditional publishing companies.

Last summer, in a 160-page landmark opinion, Judge Denise Cote found that Apple and five traditional publishing companies “conspired to raise, fix, and stabilize the retail price for newly released and bestselling trade e-books” in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act and other laws, thus explaining “how and why the prices for many [e-books] rose significantly in the United States in April 2010.” All of the publishers had previously settled.

The collusion came in response to Amazon’s e-book pricing, which typically sold new releases for $9.99, regardless of what price the publisher wanted. The publishers wanted e-books to cost more, but didn’t want to leave Amazon, and so Apple came…

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Creating Characters: Tapping Into The Male Psyche

Today I’m sharing a portion of Ronie Kendig’s fascinating piece on creating believable male characters, a topic I’ve spoken and written about before, as two of the three characters that drive the narrative of my literary mystery (The Angry Woman Suite) are male, and I am not … so, whether you’re Wally Lamb and writing from the female point of view (She’s Come Undone), or as I and Ronie Kendig (Dead Reckoning/link below) have done, from a male perspective, how the heck do you do that and get it right? Here are Ronie’s thoughts:

“Writing is a literary expression of who we are, what we feel and how we think. It would be correct to say that in order to write the male POV accurately , one must understand the way men think (I hear many ladies snickering right now). That line of thought led me to the Gender Genie and/or Gender Guesser, an online program that analyzes chunks of writing to determine the author’s gender. The algorithm used is based off a study done between Moshe Koppel, Bar-Ilan University, Israel, and Shlomo Argamon, Illinois Institute of Technology, which found indicators within documents that were distinctively male and distinctively female.

The point is, while generalizations about males and females are often exaggerated, they are based in truth—there are differences in the way men and women talk and think. Writers have the great task of translating the known differences into plausible, compelling fiction and characters. To do that, we refer back to the science. And remember, these are generalizations.

  • Men provide answers that assume the receiver has no knowledge of the topic/object being discussed. In other words, they talk and act to provide INFORMATION.
  • Men tend to state demands (“Give me an iced tea.”) rather than preferences (“I’d like a Diet Coke, please.”) the way a woman would.
  • Men usually do not answer all questions or respond to everything said
  • Men are one-box thinkers. They say what they mean and focus on one topic. Typically, there’s no reading between the lines.
  • While men internalize their thoughts, they are generally not thinking about feelings. Paragraphs of internal diatribe on feelings do not belong in a man’s POV (or at least not heavily).
  • Men are not verbose. They take the shortest possible route through a discussion; unlike ladies who can cover ten topics with one conversation, (we’re just talented that way!).
  • While a man might notice a woman’s curves (just keeping it real), they aren’t likely to notice what the woman is wearing (“Hey, is that a new Kate Spade dress?”).
  • At a dinner party, the men are more prone to chat up friends, but women will have stronger radars, noticing not just who is there, but relational aspects (Why is John sitting so close to Sue?) because women are about INVOLVEMENT, connecting, relationships.
  • Use appropriate verbs. Men do not giggle. They chuckle. They guffaw (a strange word in and of itself).”

 

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Ronie Kendig grew up an Army brat. She married a veteran, and together their lives are never dull with four children and two dogs–a Golden Retriever and a Maltese Menace. Ronie’s degree in psychology has helped her pen novels of intense, raw characters. Since launching onto the publishing scene, Ronie’s Rapid-Fire Fiction has hit the CBA Bestseller List, won the prestigious Christy Award, named to 2012 Bestselling Fiction by Christianbook.com, finaled in numerous contests and reader awards, including ACFW Carol Awards, RWA’s Faith, Hope, & Love’s Inspirational Readers’ Choice Awards, Christian Retailing’s Readers’ Choice Awards, INSPY Award, The Christian Manifesto Lime Awards, and FamilyFiction’s Readers’ Choice Awards. Ronie’s titles include her debut title and spy thriller–DEAD RECKONING–the Discarded Heroes series (NIGHTSHADE, DIGITALIS, WOLFSBANE, FIRETHORN), the A Breed Apart series (TRINITY:MILITARYWAR DOG, TALON:COMBAT TRACKING TEAM, BEOWULF: EXPLOSIVES DETECTION DOG) and the upcoming (2014) The Quiet Professionals (RAPTOR 6, HAWK, FALCON). Ronie’s writings are also in the 7 Hours direct-to-digital novella collection (WHOLE PIECES), Central Park Rendezvous novella collection (DREAM A LITTLE DREAM), and the Denali Dreams novella collection (DARING HEIGHTS, TAKING FLIGHT). Ronie can be found at http://www.roniekendig.com, on Facebook (www.facebook.com/rapidfirefiction), Twitter (@roniekendig

 

 

The Great E-book Pricing Question

Originally posted on David Gaughran:

soulsale There’s more guff written about pricing than almost anything else, resulting in an extremely confusing situation for new self-publishers. I often see them pricing too low or too high, and the decision is rarely made the right way, i.e. ascertaining their goals and pricing accordingly.

Price/value confusion

Before we get to the nuts-and-bolts, it’s time to slay a zombie meme. Much of the noise on this issue springs from conflating two concepts, namely price and value.

Authors often say something like, “My book is worth more than a coffee.” Or publishers might say, “A movie costs $10 and provides two hours of entertainment. Novels provide several times that and should cost more than $9.99.”

Price and value are two different things. From Wikipedia:

Economic value is not the same as market price. If a consumer is willing to buy a good, it implies that the customer places a higher value…

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