Y’all Come

Christopher Rowe, Erin Keane, Mark Rudolph and I will be reading this Saturday, October 15, starting at 6 p.m. at Destinations Booksellers in New Albany, Indiana. The reading’s called Four Writers, Four Voices, but I may well use extra voices just to throw people off. Oh, and the fabulous Lipkandy might be playing some acoustic happiness for your ears.

So, Louisville/Indiana types, if you’re out there, y’all come. It should be fun.

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Writers Need Lists

From Some Rules of Writing by Nicola Griffith (one of a fairly extensive bunch of pieces over at the Online Writing Workshop, about which I know very little):

One of the clearest markers of bad writing is, in my opinion, the unexamined cliché.  Think hard about every single word and phrase you use. Don’t write "her heart stopped" unless you mean she died.  Don’t talk about saucy serving wenches in an inn where the beef stew is thick and hearty and the ale is fresh, nutty, and strong…unless you intend to use such a cliche to good effect, to twist it upon itself and the reader for a purpose.  (Why aren’t "serving wenches" ever tired, middle-aged women?  Why, in worlds with no refrigeration, is the meat never spoilt–or intensely flavored with spices to prevent/slow down said spoilage?  Why is the beer rarely yellow, or thin, or cloudy with sediment?  Why do barbarians always "come down from the north"?  Why do people who fall over the edge of cliffs always "scrabble for purchase?")  Stereotypes such as sly Arabs, money-lending Jews, feisty old women, dignified and wise kings, comic-relief peasants, green-eyed and raven- tressed heroines with "mouths just a bit too wide for beauty" and pert noses are signs of lazy writing and/or a failure of imagination.  Many clichés are "self-evident truths": women are weaker than men; Americans are superior to Africans; humans are more innovative than aliens; women-only worlds would be boring, homogeneous places where the inhabitants sit around all day and think about men; capitalism is fabulous; all cultures appreciate art; genius is more valuable than compassion; straight men are more butch than gay men; Christians are more reasonable than Moslems; war is inevitable.  The list is endless (or at least very, very long).  All writers commit cliché to some extent, but the better you are, the less often you’ll do it.  Clichés undermine fiction; they’re like rust on the cables suspending the reader’s disbelief.  One is a little unsightly, but many mean that disbelief will come crashing down, your books or story will be tossed aside, and you will have lost a reader forever.

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Shiner Alert

Lew Shiner, one of the best writers (period), is interviewed over at S1ngularity. Sez he:

The bottom line is, I have to find projects that excite me enough that I want to write them no matter what–whether they get published or not, whether anyone but my friends ever see them. That way I can focus on the process of writing, and actually take pleasure in that, instead of being obsessed with trying to crack the bestseller list. And the thing that is most satisfying to me is to produce a book that I’ll still be proud of down the line.

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Tween Fiction Call

Lizzie Skurnick, aka the Old Hag, aka Associate Editor of Girls’ Life, sent the following note the other day. I know a number of you YA types are out there, so I’m passing it on to you*:

Girls’ Life mag features the best in teen and tween fiction — spunky but not stupid, serious but not dull, cutting-edge but not about suicide or anything — and we’d like to feature you. (Except if your story has sex. NO SEX.)

I invite you to check out a recent copy of the mag to see what we’ve been up to lately. You can send me whole stories — no queries necessary — or you can kick me a paragraph or two to see if you’re in the ballpark. We like all styles — no sci-fi or fantasy please — and we’re looking for new twists on old themes. For those of you with novels coming out soon, we love to feature excerpts.

For more info, drop a line to theoldhagATtheoldhag.com.

*I myself think longingly of the day when I finish this f-ing rewrite, and then of the new genre story I have to write for the FSF class I’m taking because I know the teacher.

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Everything is on screen…

The marvelous Hank Stuever reviews Everything is Illuminated and likes it, sorta:

"Everything Is Illuminated" is no average tale of let’s-go-find-where-Grandpa’s-shtetl-shtood. Heavy with the burden of translating the shiftingly excellent narrative techniques of Jonathan Safran Foer’s 2002 novel on which it is based, the movie can’t help but take on a slightly too twee tone. Depending on your pop-cult sensibilities (Do you like the Dave Eggers crowd? Do you pay rent in Williamsburg, Brooklyn? Do you listen raptly to public radio’s "This American Life"?), you are free to revel in "Everything Is Illuminated’s" magical groove (I did) while at the same time finding it puzzlingly dull (I did that, too) and not quite the storytelling achievement you once considered it to be.

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Two Little Things (REupdated)

I’ve put in a ticket with Typepad because the RSS feed doesn’t seem to be working (any tips from Typepad users appreciated), but hopefully that will magically right itself soon. Also, there’s now a new Livejournal feed, courtesy of the industrious JEL (much appreciated), which you can find by scrolling down on the lefthand column to the Friend Me heading (or this is it).

Updated: Nevermind on the feed. I had to unsub at Bloglines and then resub for it to show up, but it’s working now. (Thanks, Richard!) I apologize if I in any way tarred Typepad’s good name with this post; they are AWESOME — I had both my questions to tech support answered within a couple of hours today.

REupdated: Bloglines is not picking up the feed for some reason, after the first four posts (and those only on the Atom and RSS versions; the RDF version is stuck with the original unupdated first three posts. However, the feed is working in everything else. I’ve emailed Bloglines, as the Typepad people were relatively sure it was on their end. Again, any suggestions/tips/tricks welcome.

OKAY: Last update to this post hopefully EVER. Overnight it miraculously seems to be working in Bloglines. I’m signed up to the RSS feed (rather than Atom or RDF, but I would assume they work too) and it’s showing all posts now. So, try that and I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

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Well hmmm…

Importing posts didn’t work. In fact, I may have just erased the Shaken & Stirred blogger archives back aways (although the instructions said they would prevent you from doing that). Anyone who knows how to do this stuff, feel free to email with face-saving instructions. Otherwise, we are starting from scratch over here. Except for this one feat of technology I foolishly attempted on my own, we likes it over here. It’s much easier to control the design and the interface kicks the b-l-o-g-g’s a s s.

Anyhoo. Now I post up a storm.

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