Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Live Poetry In Fort Wayne

We just happened to be traveling through Fort Wayne, Indiana, on Saturday and caught some live poetry in Headwaters Park. These poets are part of the Northeast Indiana Poets group.
Click here to visit their site.

Glad I had my video camera so I could capture some cool poetry readings. Enjoy!

Poet Ralph Scantlin

Poet Alexandra Zannis

Poet Caroline Dewey

Monday, August 29, 2011

Driving eBook Innovation

Guest Post By Emily Hill

At the time the automobile was invented there were alternative modes of traveling long distance: horse, carriage, and bicycle to name a few. But, the automobile took the cake! Yes, it was expensive, but it found its place among wealthier consumers. And, it was cumbersome with that crank to start up the motor. And a bit fashion-edgy with those goggles one had to wear while driving early models that didn’t have windshields. But nothing beat the excitement, the novelty, of trying out the automobile.
Then, the automobile got sexy – and as time went by – even sexier. One could travel faster, farther. Windshield wipers, enclosed cabins, radios, and heaters were added. Ultimately automobile innovation included leather interior, movie screens for children, GPS systems for errant wanderers, and parking sensors! All of these innovations were meant to heighten the enjoyment of the driver and their passengers; make them happier to be using automobile travel over any of the alternatives. In futuristic terms Oliver Wyman’s ‘Car Innovation 2015’ study the slogan is ‘stagnation means regression’.
This seems to be the slogan most appropriate for advancements in eReader technology as well. Those who follow the publishing industry live in interesting times. And by interesting times I don’t mean how the politics of exclusivity and nepotism has cut the nose off the publishing industry – I’m focusing for the moment on how innovations in one of the most basic pastimes in history – reading – is being revolutionized.
If Charleton Heston was correct, and I presume he was, man originally read on clay tablets that had been carved with the messages of The Greats. Innovation jumped forward and papyrus was inked by scribes and read by kings and popes. Time moved forward and wax tablets became the vogue, followed by inking to parchment. Commerce entered the picture and we were off and running – or off and reading! We’ve come a long way, baby, since 1440 when printing presses were clunking and clanking along in Europe.
The concept of ‘stagnation means regression’ is moving along at a much faster clip in publishing as we proceed into the Twenty-First century. Why, just look at eReaders! The Dynabook-concept, which made its debut in the late 1960’s, lumbered along for a number of years. Its prototypes failed to make much of a dent in disseminating electronically-available words widely. That is, until the late 1990’s when libraries in the U.S. began making eBooks available to the public. I’ve said it loud, and I’ve said it often, Hug A Librarian! Bless them…from protecting Michael Moore’s interests to sliding eBook technology across the check-out counter, they have had our best interests at heart when it comes to access. And Amazon and Sony made eBook reading a breeze.
Fast-forward fifteen years and we are all reading eBooks – from our eReaders or our desktop computers. We’ve seen the availability of eBooks advance from eReaders, to iPads. And, innovations for bringing electronic books to consumers will continue to dazzle us. But what about reading, and the reading experience? With humans’ Twenty-First century capacity to multi-task, engage all senses at once, and move at a ever faster pace, ‘stagnation means regression’. The eBook must do something more than just provide us with a variation of the printed page. And, now it does!
“Want an eReader that is more than an eReader?” There’s Pandigital Havnon, Samsung, Sony, Archos, and of course, Kindle. eReader innovators brought us color, and now authors publish and make available color travelogues, maps, and even cookbooks that spill color into our kitchens. eReaders manage apps, and androids. eReaders now even talk to us, so we have Nook Book for Kids, Amazon Kindle 3, and the Binatone Read-to-me by Argos. So, we’re reading, reading on electronic books, reading in color, and our kids are being read to.
But, let’s have more! Bring it on! We didn’t want only visual stimulation, we wanted both sight and sound! Sound….of…music! Let’s have music! Some time ago James Patterson began distributing CDs to play while his books are being read, oh so cumbersome – though innovative! But the industry strives to do better, innovation being the pass code. And so it is. Music has come to eBooks and the eReading experience. Thanks to Booktracks.
Innovators Mark and Paul Cameron paired with Brooke Geahan, forming Booktrack which now brings readers up to nine hours of musical score which plays at the same pace as the reader is taking in the storyline. Visit http://www.booktrack.com/ for details. Book tracks describes their capability in a recent news release “matching synchronized music, sound effects and ambient sound to the text of your favorite ebooks”. Peter Thiel, of PayPal/Facebook, joined the Booktrack team, ensuring their success. But, I expect technology innovators, and reader demand will drive large and small publishers even farther forward.
Many smaller innovations are being tried with eReader and eBook to enhance the reading experience of consumers. eBook publishers, like A.V. Harrison Publishing, are now embedding YouTube action videos into their eBooks for readers who want to take a break - not from the action – but to the action. Smart authors are including interview podcasts in their eBooks – and why not? Isn’t engaging the reader the point? After all, ‘stagnation means regression’ and everything I see on the publishing front is moving ahead.

Emily Hill is owner of A.V. Harrison Publishing, and works as a self-publishing workshop facilitator and Self-Pub Coach in the Pacific Northwest. Ms. Hill teaches from her how-to guide series, ‘All Smart Cookies Can Self-Publish’ which is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. A writer, Ms. Hill has published a number of titles, including her feature novel, Jenkins: Confederate Blockade Runner, available to libraries through Ingram Book Distributors, as well as Amazon.com and at all Barnes & Noble retailers. Her website is located at http://www.avharrison-publishing.com/publishing-and-coachin

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Women Writers: Who Needs Them?

In a stunning turn of events (at least stunning in my opinion) a new study shows that there are fewer women writers in the television industry than perhaps ever before. Unless you count the early days when women were hardly allowed to set foot in an  executive office.

Statistics show that only 15% of the writers in the television industry are women, despite the preponderance of television shows about women and for women (as a demographic.)

I can't help but wonder if this doesn't have more to do with the loss of general quality in the television industry and the growth of self-publishing. Perhaps more women are finding their literary fortunes writing books instead of being enslaved to the television industry. Or maybe they have simply grown disgusted with an industry that seems hell-bent on self-destruction; more interested in regurgitating content than creating new content.
I hope there are good reasons for this decline that have nothing to do with male dominance justifying itself. I would like to think we are more enlightened than we were thirty years ago, more able to find quality writers based on their talent than on their gender, but I am not certain.

In the season that just ended women held 25% of all jobs behind the scenes on TV. Here are the jobs tracked: creators, directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and directors of photography.  That is down from 27% the previous season.
Now the number that is staggering is the number of women writers.  That plummeted from 29% to 15%.  That stat is the number of women whose names appear as the writer of an episode.  (A random episode of every drama and sitcoms from the major networks were assessed for this stat.) That is not the number of female writers on the staff.  In TV writers come in at different levels.  The lowest level is staff writer and the highest level is executive producer.  There are several levels in between. 
And the stats show that “84% of the programs employed no women writers”  which means that 84% of the randomly selected episodes that were used for this evaluation had no female name on them at all.  Shameful.
Another stat worth lamenting - women created only 18% of the shows.  That means less than 1 in 5 of the shows you watch have a woman creator. 
Other takeaways:
•  Women hire women: Shows with female creators have more female characters
•  Directing on TV is just as bad as directing in films: women made up 11% of all directors, down 5 points from a year ago.
•  The CW has the most female characters with 52% and NBC has the least with 36%
•  43% of all major characters on TV shows were women - sitcoms has the least female characters and reality TV the most.
•  Women are younger than men on TV shows.
•  Most women on TV are white
•  Viewers are less likely to know about a woman’s job than a man’s.

Click here to read the entire article.

The Hidden Dangers Of Self-Publishing (gasp!)

Authors have been hearing all manner of strange opinions on the subject of self-publishing e-books. 'This is the end of the publishing industry' (maybe not), 'Self-publishing means you're not a real author' (huh?). The publishing industry is, no doubt, going through changes. The gatekeepers who control selection and marketing are being ousted in favor of direct author to audience contact. There will always be authors who do not want to self-publish and market their own work, in that, the publishing house is secure. But for those who do want to take on the challenge of being writer/publisher/marketer, publishing quality work combined with a terrific marketing strategy, the benefits (and royalties) are great.

Opinions on the emergence of eBooks in the modern era come with all manner of widely varied opinions. We saw J.K. Rowling go from staunchly refusing to offer her works as eBooks to routing around her publisher and offering them directly to her fans. Barry Eisler turned down a huge publishing contract to self-publish his eBooks, even as the Mystery Writers of America were telling Joe Konrath, Eisler's friend, self-publishing meant he wasn't a "real author". And, of course, we have the always prevalent opposed viewpoints of the benefits of carrying your digital library everywhere versus the preference for the look and feel of a physical hardcopy tome.

But one argument I haven't heard before (and I spend a decent amount of time reading and learning about the publishing world, for obvious reasons) is that eBooks are dangerous to the future of young authors because the royalty rates won't support them making a living. That's the argument Graham Swift made in an article in The Telegraph by Nick Collins.
Click here to read more

Monday, August 22, 2011

Creative Rights That Really Aren't

Call me old-fashioned, but I remember when creator rights were really, really important.
Back in my day, comic book writers and artists were rebelling against an industry which didn't afford them any rights to the characters they created; The guys who created Superman, Jerry Siegal and Joe Shuster, essentially lived lives of poverty while the company they had worked for, DC Comics, made millions from their character.

I thought those days were behind us. I thought we had all learned how important the characters we create are to us, the creators, and that those rights, even when they do not apply to us, should be held sacred.

Instead, we haven't learned a thing, have we? How do I come to this conclusion? Well, when two famous, published writers decide to re-create the origin and story of a much-beloved fictional character, for no reason other than to satisfy a whim, we still have a problem.

Specifically I am referring to Dave Barry (perhaps the world's most accomplished humor columnist) and Ridley Pearson (noted murder mystery writer) who have taken it upon themselves to expound on the works of J.M Barrie and re-imagine the history and future of Peter Pan.
Their first book (in a growing series) was called "Peter and the Starchasers" and their latest is, "The Bridge To Neverland."

My question remains: why? Are they so bereft of ideas they can't imagine their own stories? Do they really need to take someone else's work and re-write it, re-imagine it, re-create it for their own purposes? Can't they leave well enough alone and go create something original?

Suppose J.M. Barrie had wanted Peter Pan to die at the end, a broken-hearted old fool who regretted spending his young life lost in his own imagination. That would be terrible for some of us, sure, but Peter Pan is HIS creation, not ours.

I watched Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog, by Joss Whedon and loved every minute of it. Except the end. The ending was tragic and not at all what I envisioned for the characters. But I accepted it because it wasn't my story to tell. The story belonged to Maurissa Tancharden, Joss Whedon, Jed Whedon and Zack Whedon. That was the way they wanted their story to end, that's why it ended that way.

As long as we're on the subject of stories that I don't like, let's cut Anna Karenina down by about 500 pages. Way too much drama for my taste. Oh, and let's add an alien invasion. That would be much more exciting.

And in The Color Purple, how about if Celie bashes in her step-father's head with a frying pan the first night after he rapes her, then runs off and becomes a celebrated politician. I would feel much better about that, too.

Barry and Pearson are hardly the first writers to re-imagine someone else's work, and I doubt they will be the last. I just wish writers would rely more on their own imagination and less on previously written stories for their work.

The fact is, in my opinion, writers will never earn the respect we deserve from others if we cannot first earn it from each other.

"Peter and The Starcatchers" quickly won over readers with its creative beginnings for the already-beloved story icons, like the pirate "Black Stache" who became "Captain Hook," the little orphan boy who learned to fly.
Now, several years later, Pearson and Barry are on book tour — which included Provo — to promote their newest book, this time a sequel to J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan: "The Bridge to Never Land."
Set in modern-day Pittsburgh, brother and sister Sarah and Aidan discover a strange document that they eventually realize is a puzzle. As they begin to make sense of it, it leads them to England where they soon discover something they weren't supposed to and open a dark door that unleashes forbidden forces, Barry explained for those that weren't already clutching copies of the recently released book.
The siblings then turn to a physics professor at Princeton, ("We call him J.D. because we want him to be played in the movie by Johnny Depp," Barry said.) who helps them find a way to get to Never Land. Once there, they have to find Peter Pan and convince him to help them sort out the mess.
"It was a fascinating process," Barry said of writing "Peter and The Starcatchers." "I've never written a book with anybody else before, and outlining was a concept I was unfamiliar with, but Ridley feels it's a good idea to know what the book is going to say before you write it. I've written countless things that I had no idea what they said even after I wrote them."
And even with an outline, the two authors occasionally got tangled in the plot and disagreed on which way to go.

Click here to read the entire article.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Book Review: Vickie Van Helsing by Solomon.J. Inkwell

With all the usual suspects re-vamped (excuse the pun) Vickie Van Helsing is the tale of a 21st century high-school heroine with some unusual DNA. When blood-sucking visitors come to town, guess who has to save the day.
A riotous roller-coaster ride with lots of tongue-in-cheek humor from Solomon.J.Inkwell AKA screenwriter and author James Grea. Vickie Van Helsing asks you to suspend disbelief for a while (where DID all that vampire goop in the gymnasium go?) and enjoy the ride. A well told story, would love to see it on the big screen.

Fate didn‘t bless me with perfect looks, a pristine fashion sense, or undeniable charm, but it did bless me with the smarts—well, smarts and a little something extra I wasn‘t aware of at the time. Frankly, if I had to choose a gift, I‘d choose brains. The Populars are going to learn that looks fade, but smarts last forever. Populars—that‘s what I call them: the ones who are seemingly perfect in every way. Well, let me tell you, they aren‘t.
So, my real name? Okay, get ready for it, because you‘re going to laugh. Wait for it …
Vickie Van Helsing.
See, you‘re laughing, and that‘s rude, dude. Yes, and I do mean the monster-hunting, holy-water-sprinkling Van Helsing. Okay, so maybe the name Van Helsing doesn‘t refer to the super-hot archangel Hugh Jackman badass, but it still means warrior of the wicked. Vampires? Monsters? Oh, yeah, they were out there, and they were all over us, but I‘m hoping that I‘ve taken care of them.
Because more than stupid people, I hate dead people.

Click here for YouTube Video

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Another Writer Facing Down Goliath

“I was shocked. A writer works all her life trying to have a first hit. I was not treated well, given the revenue stream I created for them.” -Jessica Bendinger

Wow! Yet again, a writer's creation has been allegedly usurped by a corporation who continues to reap profits without sharing. That might be why the Writer's Guild of America is trying to shut down production of "Bring It On: The Musical."

Bendinger claims the producers, specifically Beacon Communications Corp. and Beacon Communications, LLC, are using her original work as the basis for this new stage production without giving her a share of the profits.

This is hardly news, as writers routinely finding themselves on the wrong side of the revenue stream once their work grows beyond the original intention.
If it's a book, they lose on the movie deal; if it's a film, they lose on sequels or stage productions or licensing deals. (If there is a way to make money off the back of someone else's work, you can bet someone has tried it.)

The best advice for budding writers is to do what George Lucas did when he created Star Wars: Sign a contract that explicitly gives you the rights you feel you need, and that will protect you. If you aren't sure what those might be, get some legal advice.

Better to pay for a lawyer before your work is appropriated, rather than having to try and reclaim your rights later.

The confidential arbitration demand, filed a week ago, asserts that Beacon Communications Corp. and Beacon Communications, LLC are exploiting Bendinger’s dramatic rights in the cheerleader-themed Bring It On without her consent, in violation of the guild agreement’s “separated rights” provisions. It seeks damages and an injunction against Bring It On: The Musical, which is being coproduced by Universal Pictures Stage Productions, Beacon Communications and others.

Beacon’s outside counsel for the matter, Alan Brunswick of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, tells THR, “The claim is without merit. We will vigorously defend it.”

In an interview, Bendinger counters that “Imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery. Compensation is.”

The screenwriter says she first heard about the show “in the worst way.” She had been working on a stage version of her own for six years and was developing the project with former Universal production chief Marc Platt, producer of the Broadway hit Wicked. But then she learned that a New York theater attorney not affiliated with her had been heard to say at a cocktail party that he was shopping the theatrical rights to the movie – the same rights she had been seeking to exploit.

The play subsequently opened for previews in Atlanta earlier this year. It’s scheduled to begin a four-city national tour in Los Angeles on October 30.

Click here to read the entire article.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Self-Publishing Service Movellas Expands To English Language Books

Receiving a Meffy award in London this year for best social media service, Danish company Movellas provides a platform for self-publishing writers. Those writers now choosing to self-publish rather than using traditional publishing methods are having to combine the roles of writer, publisher and marketer to push their work into the fray. Social media tools are the essential part of a successful marketing campaign.

Hard at work on your novel? Angling for a book deal? Well now there's another place online where you can share your wise words with others. Movellas is a Danish based start up that has expanded its offering to include English language books. The format is simple - you write your novel - or at least part of it - upload it to the site and then share it with others on the site as well letting all your friends know via Twitter and Facebook.

It is not a new idea. In fact you can also upload your wise words to Figment, Protagonize, WeBook and WritersCafe too. Or there's also Amazon's self-publishing options too and Lulu also has an ebook facility.
Click here to read more

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Mr Tickle Turns 40

The characters of one of the best-selling British authors of the last decade, Roger Hargreaves, turned forty this week charming generations worldwide with the tales of Mr Men and Little Misses. Hargreaves hit on a winning formula with his cartoon people, embodiments of human personality traits which are still as popular with kids today as they were in the 70's. Speaking from experience, I enjoy being able to share books that I enjoyed as a child with my children and seeing them love it. Priceless.

Monsieur Chatouille, Don Cosquillas, Unser Herr Killekille all tickled the butcher and the policeman and no matter what language you speak, Mr Tickle's extraordinarily long arms continue to delight young readers all around the world.

The bright orange character celebrated his 40th birthday on Wednesday.

Mr. Tickle, created by Roger Hargreaves as an answer to his six-year-old son's question "what does a tickle look like?", along with Messrs Greedy, Nosey, Happy, Bump and Sneeze, formed the foundation of the Mr. Men children's books when they were first published in 1971.
The series of 49 Mr. Men and 36 Little Miss books has sold 120 million books worldwide since their first appearance -- an average of one copy sold every 2.5 seconds.
Click here to read more

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Ode To The Long-Suffering Writers Muse

I guess this post is to provoke pity for the long-suffering partners of writers, those that hover in the background as their loved one pounds the keyboard late into the night then, sigh, goes to bed alone. Those that must also keep a watchful eye on the antics of the various characters created, searching for unflattering parallels to their own psyche (and bad habits).But, partners of the writers, take heed. Eventually they sleep, fingers still twitching from the epic journey they traveled into the night and maybe, just maybe, one day that great work of fiction will be dedicated to you.

Hovering on the sidelines in my wife’s first published novel — yelling at the kids, fussing over milk stains, grousing about discipline like Jack Nicholson in the movie A Few Good Men — was an imperious jackass who seemed somehow ... er, familiar.

“ENOUGH!” shouts the male protagonist in A Subtle Thing, cheesed off when his girlfriend’s young daughter makes a ruckus in the car en route to the cottage. “Just stop it!”

“What a loser,’’ I thought. “The guy clearly has no sense of humour. ‘Hey pal, take a Prozac!’ Interesting, though, that he, like me before marriage, is en route to a cottage with his girlfriend and her young daughter. How intriguing.

And then I read her short stories, poems and other works of fiction and noticed this same outraged martinet — this apoplectic windbag — popping up on the perimeter, yelling at people to pick up their socks, irked that someone left the milk on the table, and my Spidey sense began to tingle.
Click here to read more

Monday, August 8, 2011

The E-Book Profitability Test - Ongoing.

Writers are, in unprecedented numbers moving into the E-book market preferring the expediency and freedom of self-publishing to previous methods. Some select few have had enormous success in this format whilst others are languishing. There is, as with all things, a magic formula: A great book, a fantastic social media back-up and...time. Author Edward Jay Epstein shares his experiences as both a print author and a self-publisher of E-books.

After publishing fifteen conventional books, I decided this spring to embark on a venture to publish e-books, that is, books that would be read on Kindles, iPads, smartphones, and Nooks. The advantage I see is that one can publish short new non-fiction books on current topics without going through the traditional book publishing process. This week, for example, I e-published Killing Castro, based on a secret CIA report (which I include) that shows that an assassination plot sponsored by Kennedy to kill Castro might have resulted in the assassination of Kennedy. Within twelve hours, it climbed to No. 16 on the American history best seller list, which is not that difficult given the velocity algorithm Amazon uses.
Click here to read more

Thursday, August 4, 2011

'Dr Who' Restores The Luster Of Science Fiction

Look, if you remember Dr. Who as the bushy-haired guy with the crazy scarf and the funny teeth, it's time you tune in to the latest incarnation.
The new series on BBC has been airing for the past several years and it continues to garner praise (and viewers) even as it continues to re-invent the character so many of us grew up with.

Don't send your thank you letters to the BBC, however. It's the writers who deserve the praise. Folks like Robert Shearman, who helped re-introduce a new generation of viewers to the world's most wicked cyborgs, the Daleks. Shearman has recently taken a new gig as a student advisor at Edinburgh's Napier University. A well-deserved position which will hopefully inspire future writers at the university to become even better.

Though definitely science fiction oriented, Dr Who is one of those shows which relies not so much on special effects but on story and plot. Without excellently written scripts the show would not have capture the hearts and minds of a new audience. The quality of the writing is such that people of all ages, even those who don't care for science fiction, can find something to enjoy. Because in the end it is the stories which make the difference.

And the folks who write those stories truly deserve the priase.

Doctor Who star Matt Smith has told Newsbeat he wanted to make the new series of the show better than his debut.
The actor has filmed his second season as the Time Lord, accompanied once again by Amy Pond, played by Karen Gillan.
Matt Smith told Newsbeat: "It was always my aim to make this season better than last season and I hope that's the case.

"I think the danger is if you sit back too much, it's not as good. You've got to keep the pressure on yourself in the way that makes it brilliant every day."
He became the third actor to play the Doctor since the show was revived in 2005, following on from Christopher Ecclestone and David Tennant.
Matt Smith said: "Obviously there was an inherent pressure last year with no one knowing what I was going to be like.
"I guess I'm a little more settled in now but it's about all our hands on deck. It's got to be better."
Doctor's housemate Karen Gillan agreed: "People have got such high expectations that you have to live up to it. We worked even harder to make the series better than last year. It's a dangerous thing to relax. We've got to make it bigger and better every time."
This series features guest appearances by James Corden, who returns as the Doctor's housemate.

Click here to read the entire story.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

'Juno' Writer Makes Directorial Debut

Writer Diablo Cody's directorial debut 'Lamb of God' has enlisted British comedian Russell Brand for the lead role in a tale of faith, sin and redemption. Cody is known for her Oscar winning screenplay 'Juno' which inadvertently spawned a rash of teen pregnancy reality shows, her new offering may be just as controversial.

Comedian and writer Russell Brand has been offered the lead male role in Lamb Of God, the directorial debut from Diablo Cody. Lamb Of God has been officially described as:
A comedy that follows a young conservative religious woman who loses her faith after a plane crash, decides to go to Las Vegas to live the life of a sinner, and on her journey finds her way back to her faith.
As reported by Twitch, Brand has been offered the role of William, a bartender befriended by the religious woman.
Click here to read more

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Dream Job For The Linguaphile

By his own admission, Brendan Emmett Quigley had been fired from miserable jobs in the publishing world and slummed it in rock bands before landing his dream job as a Times crossword creator. The pithy wordsmith drew a crowd recently as he took to Reddit to answer questions on the inside world of a constructor (of crosswords, that is).

Unless you're the type who finishes The New York Times' Sunday crossword puzzle in ink every week, you may not spend a lot of time thinking about the science behind puzzle-making. But if you're anything like us, you do occasionally guffaw at a particularly brilliant clue, or sit befuddled at a stumper, wondering idly how they come up with those things. Today, a Times crossword creator (actually they call themselves constructors) named Brendan Emmett Quigley took to Reddit to answer questions about his craft, and the result was a fascinating bunch of information in the form of a dizzyingly long message board thread. But if you pull out just the pithy answers, they make for a neat FAQ that details how such puzzles are made.
Click here to read more