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Writing

Margo Howard takes up New Republic’s anti-Amazon banner, disses Vine club for daring to review her
October 21, 2014 | 4:25 pm

Author entitlement is a wonderful thing. Just by putting pen to paper, you can be forgiven for child abuse. Stalking. Abusing your readers. Grumpy-catting when you can't get the recognition and validation you paid for. Especially in your own mind. Apparently it's all part of that miraculous creative process. So welcome Margo Howard as today's star turn in authorial over-self-entitlement. (Is that a word? Sorry, English language, but it sure is an accurate description.) Aided and abetted, as these cases so often are, by a paranoid conspiracy theory - which is given added credence and visibility, in this instance, because it...

Quote of the day: “What happens when The Guardian lets an author gloat about stalking a blogger”
October 20, 2014 | 10:25 am

Plagiarism or not, second-hand reporting or not, I can't do better than to simply repeat and link to the above headline. Here's The Guardian, defender of free speech and woolly thinking, running in full the ruminations of author Kathleen Hale on how she tracked down the perpetrator of a one-star review of her book - to her real-world address, in person, face to face. Admittedly, The Guardian doesn't take sides, simply giving the author's account, without implied endorsement even in the subtitle. But commentators on the story soon did, both for and against. A good many who weighed in on Kathleen Hale's side...

A class action against James Patterson?
October 18, 2014 | 10:25 am

James PattersonWhen not engaged in dissing Amazon, endowing lucky bookshops, or otherwise positioning himself front and center before an attentive media, bestselling $350 million-net-worth $90-million-a-year-earning author James Patterson is indulging in business practices that make me wonder whether there is a case for a class action against him. On grounds of consumer fraud. Because, as the Celebrity Net Worth website (the Hello! Magazine of money junkies) outlines, "Patterson works with a variety of ghostwriters and co-authors, such as Maxine Paetro, Andrew Gross, Mark Sullivan, Ashwin Sanghi, Michael Ledwidge, and Peter De Jonge." When you're reading James Patterson, how do you actually know...

John Grisham testified for his friend who downloaded kiddie porn: Reports
October 17, 2014 | 10:25 am

Grisham.jpegIn the wake of the coverage of John Grisham's comments around lighter sentences for consumers of child pornography, as well as Grisham's own public apology, we have had some commentary "in defense of John Grisham," insisting that "the invective he’s receiving right now is both misinformed and wildly over the top," and asking that his remarks be put into context - of his work on criminal justice reform, on racial parity in sentencing, and age of consent laws in the U.S., etc. Well, here is some more context. The Daily Telegraph, not slow to follow up on the scandal it facilitated in...

Are German fairy tales still the domain of Nazism?
October 16, 2014 | 4:25 pm

Speaking recently at this year's Telegraph Bath Festival of Children's Literature, celebrated German children's author Cornelia Funke talked about the difficulty of writing imaginative literature based on folklore in the long shadow of Nazism. "The fascists used myth and fairytale," she said, and "corrupted the the whole." As the Festival details outline, Cornelia Funke "is the renowned, much loved author of many children’s books, including the Inkheart and MirrorWorld series. She is also a film producer, an app designer, and was named by Time Magazine as one of the ‘100 must influential people in the world today’." This is by no...

John Grisham speaks out – for pedophiles?
October 16, 2014 | 12:25 pm

johngrisham.jpgJohn Grisham, hawklike legal eagle, millionaire bestselling author, spokesperson for middle-aged white pedophiles ... oops. How did that one slip through the publicist's net? Through Grisham's own mouth, it seems, relayed via the UK's Daily Telegraph in an interview taped for your enjoyment and judicial edification. And the legal opinions vouchsafed therein are interesting to say the least... Grisham complains about the harsh sentences meted out to consumers of pornography, even child pornography, and bemoans the fact that: "we have prisons now filled with guys my age, 60-year-old white men in prison who've never harmed anybody, would never touch a child, but...

The perfect writer’s retreat – for less than a UK author’s annual take
October 15, 2014 | 12:25 pm

Any writer who is not one of the obscenely, disgustingly, grotesquely rich fabrications of the Manhattan literary celebrity machine, like James Patterson (in actuality a Borg-like hive entity comprising one figurehead and numerous ghostwriting drones) and other signatories of the Authors United petition, will probably care about money. Care quite a lot. They may even have to care about keeping a roof over their head. Enter Techdwell, an Oregon-based company that is busy repurposing miniature high-tech dwellings originally destined for Haiti into housing for the urban poor - which just might include writers. Currently the focus of a plan to house...

How language maps your space
October 12, 2014 | 1:30 pm

ChineseEFPSA, the "journal of European psychological students," recently shared a paper that should make many writers sit up and take notice. Perhaps literally. Because it deals with how languages determine our perceptions of space, color, and other phenomena such as time, and how these can be changed by adopting the worldview coded into other languages. The paper, "The Influence of Our Native language on Cognitive Representations of Colour, Spatial Relations and Time," by Nicholas P. Sarantakis at Scotland's Glasgow Caledonian University, focuses chiefly on a review of available literature and experimental studies on the field. The author cites one study of relative spatial...

MFA creative writing graduates are (possibly) killing literature
October 8, 2014 | 2:25 pm

An ever-so-slightly authoritative critique of the whole system of creative writing courses and grants for writers has been handed down by Horace Engdahl, a Member of the Swedish Academy tasked with awarding the Nobel Prize for Literature. And he is, to put it mildly, not happy with the state of literature in general, and the warping effect that lavish financial support is having on it. In an interview with French publication La Croix, Engdahl condemns "a form of sclerosis in literary creation," which he attributes directly to "the perverse effects of the professionalization of the writer's vocation, linked to a system...

Grumpy Cat to get biography? No, it’s Jonathan Franzen!
October 2, 2014 | 12:25 pm

time-cover-franzen_customJonathan Franzen is not dead. It's sad news for the world of English letters, I know, but he is still alive, writing (presumably), and talking (when his foot is not wedged firmly in his tonsils). Sad news for Oprah too. And for XX-chromosome-bearers who have the temerity to decipher words. But Jonathan Franzen is, in fact, among the living. Why, oh why, then, has someone writen a literary biography about him? Why, oh whyer why, did somebody at Bloomsbury actually agree to publish it? And no, it's apparently not some Dunciad-style exercise devoted to immortalizing another overpromoted talentless mediocrity as the...

R.I.P. Eugie Foster
September 29, 2014 | 2:41 pm

Nebula Award-winning writer and editor Eugie Foster died on September 27th of respiratory failure after a long and hard-fought battle against aggressive cancer of the sinuses. Full details can be found on her blog, with a short obituary from her husband Matthew M. Foster, here. Eugie won the 2009 Nebula Award for Best Novelette for her novelette "Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast," and a whole series of other awards for her work as writer and editor. She was also a regular participant in conventions and science fiction/fantasy events. In the course of her struggle and treatment, Eugie...

Ellora’s Cave sues Dear Author over ‘defamatory’ blog post
September 26, 2014 | 9:59 pm

Ellora's Cave Well, that was unexpected. The saga of Ellora’s Cave has been chronicled over the last few months, and especially over the last few weeks, on various e-book blogs I read. For example, from The Passive Voice: Ellora’s Cave The mysterious case of the missing royalty checks from Ellora’s Cave More Ellora’s Cave troubles… Cat Grant Gives Away Her Unreverted Ellora’s Cave Titles And those are just from the last week or so. Authors...