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Writing

The archivist’s conundrum: History is written by the lucky
July 8, 2014 | 5:31 am

_76046394_black-prince_splAn article a friend posted on Facebook got me thinking. It involves recently-discovered evidence about a historical figure, Prince Edward of Woodstock, suggesting that a putative “massacre” he committed might not actually have happened at all. It occurred to me that, in this modern era, we tend to assume we can know anything about someone just from what we find in a quick Google. It's sometimes hard to wrap our brains around the idea that much of what we know from ancient times could be wrong, as all we have is what managed to get saved through sheer dumb...

For Scotland’s independence year: Two centuries of Waverley
July 7, 2014 | 10:56 am

WaverleyScotland goes to the polls this year in its national referendum on independence from the United Kingdom. How fitting, then, that 200 years ago to the day, Waverley, the first great historical novel of the Jacobite rising of 1745 - and, according to some critics, the first true historical novel in the Western tradition - was published, anonymously, by Walter Scott, probably the second greatest Scottish writer after Robert Burns. Waverley not only kicked off Scott's Waverley novels cycle, and made him a European celebrity, it also inaugurated a political project which culminated in his stage-management of the visit of...

Why won’t Parker do a stylus?
July 4, 2014 | 10:25 am

Montblanc As avid TeleRead readers will know, I'm an onscreen handwriting nut. I'm also a writer. And like many writers, I'm almost fetishistic about the tools of the trade. The writing instruments, paper (or device), writing desk, accessories, all make a difference to me. So it's been a continuing annoyance that the great pen manufacturers, whose lacquered and tortoiseshell wonders I used to treasure back in the days when I worked mostly on paper, haven't taken a small logical step into the digital era and started introducing pen designs with touchscreen styluses for smartphones and tablets. I'm sure there must be plenty...

Douglas Preston decries Amazon tactics against Hachette authors (Updated)
July 3, 2014 | 4:25 am

Well, he’s at it again. Long-time TeleRead readers might remember Douglas Preston as the author who complained about readers’ “sense of entitlement” for wanting cheap e-books, only to backpedal rather hastily when the complaint sparked a reader backlash. Yesterday, Jeffrey Trachtenberg reported in the Wall Street Journal that Preston has been circulating an open letter among various authors complaining that Amazon has been unfairly targeting Hachette authors in its recent contract negotiations with their publisher. He has reportedly received support from a number of big names (including, predictably, James Patterson) and will be posting the letter to his...

The Guardian catches up to Marion Zimmer Bradley child abuse scandal, with questionable new comments
June 27, 2014 | 6:25 pm

mzbcolorThe Guardian has finally covered the Marion Zimmer Bradley child abuse story, already featured - and extensively discussed - in TeleRead. And although it brings new and helpful insights from many, including Bradley's own daughter (and victim) Moira Greyland, it also brings some not so welcome and rather suspect comment from other quarters. Some comments on TeleRead and elsewhere have already taken Greyland to task for not speaking out sooner, implying that her motives for such a long silence and for going public now are questionable. "Interesting her daughter waited until after her death almost as courageous as her mother not...

Robert Aickman centenary day: Publishers and followers gear up
June 27, 2014 | 4:25 pm

Robert AickmanJune 27th marks the exact centenary of the birth in 1914 of Robert Fordyce Aickman, who has been acclaimed, as many TeleRead readers will know by now, has been acclaimed as the best British writer of ghost and horror stories since M.R. James. Both publishers and enthusiasts are preparing their commemorations and celebrations in memory of this subtle, highly elusive, and often disturbing author. Pride of place for the centenary, naturally enough, goes to the new republications of Aickman's work, including the "four new editions in B format" of previously published story collections and reissue of his "extremely rare novels The...

Henry Green on Loving and the future of reading
June 26, 2014 | 2:25 pm

henry greenThis post arose as an attempt to review Henry Green's inimitable 1945 work Loving, rated by some as one of the best novels of the 20th century, and a masterpiece of dialog - and vernacular speech, in the Cockney and other lower-class English tones of its key servant characters. And it led to a celebrated Paris Review interview with Green - one of the few where the novelist spoke publicly about his own work - by Terry Southern, available in full online. And there, Green shows himself a thoughtful and prescient prognosticator of the future development of writing and even...

Has Patreon brought writer patronage into the Kickstarter era?
June 25, 2014 | 12:25 pm

A new online funding platform called Patreon invites its users to "Be a Patron of the Arts" and "Support and engage with the creators you love." Targeting all forms of creativity, including scientists and educationalists as well as practitioners of the arts, Patreon offers a Kickstarter-style funding approach to "Writers & Bloggers" and "Authors," as well as their peers in other disciplines, including comics and graphic novels. "It's different from Kickstarter because it's not about one big project that requires funding," Patreon's introductory video explains. "It's more for bloggers or YouTubers, or web comics - anyone who creates on a regular...

Brain research shows novices write with their eyes
June 23, 2014 | 6:25 pm

poetry_brain_pageFollowing the fascinating recent scientific research that demonstrates the effect that reading literature can have on your brain, here is some more to show how the brain works while writing. And the conclusions are surprising. As described in a paper in Elsevier journal NeuroImage, "Professional training in creative writing is associated with enhanced fronto-striatal activity in a literary text continuation task," and summarized in the New York Times, the research concluded that, while inexperienced writers tended to use the areas of their brain associated with visual images while writing, experienced writers used the areas associated with planning, organization of learned...

David Gaughran announces Writer’s Digest split with Author Solutions brand
June 23, 2014 | 2:25 pm

Writer's DigestAs readers may remember, in February David Gaughran reported that UK book trade bible The Bookseller had severed its advertising links with Penguin Random House vanity press powerhouse Author Solutions, and would no longer accept advertising from any of its brands. Gaughran has now followed up with dramatic news that U.S. writer support and services platform Writer's Digest is also cutting its ties with Abbott Press, the joint venture it launched with Author Solutions to considerable criticism in TeleRead and elsewhere. As can be verified on the Abbott Press website, the company no longer carries any logo or other information specifically...

Hast ‘t wooking class bin writ oot ‘o literature?
June 18, 2014 | 2:25 pm

... and for those of you unfamiliar with Yorkshire dialect (unlike my Bridlingtonian maternal grandparents), that means "Has the working class been written out of literature?" and was composed with the aid of the Chicken Run Yorkshire Translator - for those whose familiarity with Yorkshire goes no further than Chicken Run. What started this particular chicken run was another silly post in The Guardian - home of silly post after other silly post - from Kevin Duffy, founder of the otherwise excellent Yorkshire independent Bluemoose Books, based in Hebden Bridge. Duffy complains that "Working-class fiction has been written out of publishing,"...

Scribble inkjet pen matches color of any object
June 15, 2014 | 2:01 pm

scribbleThey say the pen is mightier than the sword, but someone’s now designed a device that might be mightier than the ordinary pen. Called “Scribble,” this is a pen that has five refillable ink cartridges in black, white, cyan, yellow, and magenta, just like an inkjet printer—and at the back, there’s a scanner. Press the scanner against any object, and the pen will mix its inks to match that object’s color. The pen can also connect to a computer or other device via micro-USB or Bluetooth for using the color in graphical applications, and a stylus version with...