I’m at the Brisbane Writers Festival doing crazy things (scroll down to Sunday) on the first weekend of September. Come say hi and ask me why Literarium isn’t live yet (it’s looking good, does that help?)
The growth of literary festivals in Australia and globally is a cultural phenomenon that deserves more discussion. India’s annual Jaipur literary event attracts over 100,000 people in a frenzy of debate, colour and energy. When I spoke in Jaipur in 2011, there were “only” around 50,000 visitors. The event’s reputation and stature has grown exponentially since then.
Writing Festivals are a really great place to connect with your colleagues and discover new friends, or even meet online friends in meatspace!
Why do we love these annual institutions? Founder of The Hoopla, Wendy Harmer, launching the Newcastle writers’ festival in April characteristic style, argued that a communal need for spiritual and intellectual nourishment, along with disillusionment with the political process and its media followers, draws populations to discover new places to share ideas.
Worth a read if you’re going (or thinking about going) to any events: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/aug/07/writers-festivals-are-a-place-to-connect-during-a-time-of-global-insecurity
As writers we have the extraordinary power to take our experiences and turn them into fiction. But that power also allows us to take individuals and turn them into caricatures, angels or monsters. Use your powers wisely, oh author:
It isn’t as if a writer merely records life as it unfurls. Reality does not automatically transcribe as literature; real people are not shapely, compelling characters to be harvested. Charming facts and sharp observations rarely slide seamlessly into whatever narrative is at hand. To fictionalize material—any material, real or imaginary—is to subject it to the demands, the conventions, and rigors of the project at hand. A fictional narrative is constructed, shaped, and sized, its raw material muted, amplified, trimmed, and minced, recombined and recolored.
The writer Susan Taylor Chehak said that she was fictionalized once, “But by the time she got me to fit, I wasn’t me anymore.”
Have you ever succumbed to the temptation of injection someone into a story?
Not all are as cool-headed as Chehak. Some of the fictionalized share a wide streak of solipsism—for them, a few recognized facts can trigger a strong response. I have one friend who, years before I knew her, lived in Round Rock, Texas. She told me how, drunk in her youth, she’d once called some policemen “pin dicks” as they were driving her down to the station. I stole that line and gave it to a young man as he was being hauled to the police station in my first novel, Round Rock, which was named for a drunk farm near Piru, California, where round rocks occur naturally in the riverbed—it had nothing to do with Texas. My friend read two pages of this novel and phoned, furious. Not only had I named my novel after the place where she used to live, I’d put her words into my character’s mouth. “You stole my life!” she said.
There’s a lot more there, and I think it’s worth reading.
Read it all here: http://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2014/07/28/youve-been-fictionalized/
And don’t forget this hilarious McSweeney’s article on the same idea.
Grey Matter Press has an interesting, music-inspired anthology open for submissions:
For our next anthology of horror–working title SAVAGE BEASTS–we’re looking for dark and terrifying tales of fiction that have been scratched into the inside of your skull by the musical earworms to which you listen.
Hundreds of authors report getting their inspiration for their dark tales from music. Whether that musical choice be metal, classic rock, country or the far more horrifying pop tunes that ramble in and out of your head, any source of inspiration will work. Whether a complete song, or a single lyric, as long as your inspiration is musical it will qualify your exceptional piece of dark fiction for consideration into SAVAGE BEASTS.
They’re after short stories inspired directly by music, from 3,000-7,000 words, paying 2 cents per word.
MUSICAL DETAILS: Provide detailed information about the source of your inspiration — artist name(s) and song title. Give us as much information as possible to explain how the piece of music inspired your work. You may even share, in your explanation, the actual lyrics that inspired your work. (We will be looking for a direct correlation between your story and the source of your inspiration.)
Get your stories in by Friday, September 5, 2014.
Full guidelines here: http://greymatterpress.com/open-call-for-submissions-to-savage-beasts/
Disclaimer: I talk to Simon online and we’ve even met in meatspace to confirm we’re both humans and not alien infiltrator units (unless we’re both alien infiltrator units). Simon is publishing a short story of mine in the anthology he talks about in this post (‘Suspended in Dusk’) so I’ve been at the author’s end of some of his exciting journey.
I’ve also beta read some of Simon’s work (I am notoriously merciless in this role) and he still talks to me, which is a good sign.
In this blog post Simon talks about his experience of putting together this ‘anthology-that-almost-wasn’t’. He’s done an amazing job, and he’s learned everything pretty much the hard way.
I’ve listed his points, including his original incorrect numbering at time of publication (just so Simon knows he can still make mistakes *coughs*)
- 1. Aim High
- 2. Connect. Network. Reach out.
- 3. Be gracious, and don’t be an ass
- 4. Do your best work
- 4. Roll with the punches
- 5. Persevere
- 6. Party
These sound like things that can be applied across the board in doing projects, of course, but Simon shows how they apply in this particular case. Take an excerpt from step 4 (ha ha), ie. ‘Roll with the punches’):
When I started the Suspended in Dusk project, I originally intended to co-edit it with Nerine Dorman, who is one of the editors at Dark Continents Publishing. Nerine and Dark Continents were sadly unable to continue with the project and it all looked like it was done and dusted. By this point, however, I had already taken submissions from around 60 authors and was in the process of shortlisting and finalising the Table of Contents. I won’t lie.. this was crushing for me. Projects not going ahead are relatively common in the publishing industry.. but I felt like I’d come so far. Not only was I heavily emotionally invested in the project, I didn’t want to let all the authors down. Nor did I want the embarassment of going back to many of the well known industry veterans and saying “hey, sorry, [show's] off!”.
Read his open and honest post-mortem here: http://simondewar.wordpress.com/2014/07/31/what-i-learned-while-editing-a-short-story-anthology/
Just a quick look and update into what Amazon is saying about its negotiations with Hachette:
The company contends in its note (below) that $9.99 ebooks sell so many more copies than more expensive ebooks that it more than makes up the difference for a lower price. Authors, Amazon adds, should get a bigger piece of the ebook pie — specifically, the same amount the publisher gets. Amazon is proposing that it take 30% of ebook sales revenues, publishers take 35%, and authors get the remaining 35%.
For what it’s worth, it seems to me that Amazon’s market strategy across all industries (not just publishing) has always been: destroy all competitors through a process of lossleading (ie. selling at a loss until competitors disappear) and then monopolising the market at the expense of suppliers. So I don’t trust them as far as I can kick them, and their DRM-policy is a disgrace.
Please note that my opinion about Amazon does not make me a supporter of the Big Publishers either. I’m just a curmudgeon in both directions, it seems..
The full text below: http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2014/amazon-spells-out-objectives-in-hachette-negotiation/
Tiny Owl Workshop continue to be my favourite small creative business (it just seems limiting to call them a publisher) and they operate in my home town. While their shared-world project the Lane of Unusual Traders is still open, they’ve started a new Christmas themed flash market (for Australian writers only, sorry):
This Christmas, take a walk on the wild side. Swap merry for scary, and get inspired by the chain-dragging, cloven-footed, birch-rod-wielding Alpine myth of Krampus, the Christmas monster who punishes all the children who end up on the naughty list.
We’re looking for Christmas-themed flash fiction inspired by the Krampus myth. Twelve stories, accompanied by six illustrations by artists including Terry Whidborne and Simon Cottee, will be made into sets of ‘Krampus Crackers’, to be distributed in various hot locations around Brisbane this Christmas.
Payment is $60 AUD for flash between 300 and 500 words.
I would like to add that Tiny Owl Workshop continues to produce premium literary art and is the best paying genre market I’ve ever encountered. As word gets around about their projects, expect competition to become fierce.
I don’t much like the exclusivity clause, and the impact on authors who don’t sign up to that. It feels a bit like handing your wages to a bank to manage, but the bank doesn’t care about you, oh and also if you don’t hand your life savings to that bank they stop bothering to maintain your credit history.
Amazon’s hourly list of the top 100 “paid” Kindle bestsellers appears to be under the steadily growing influence of Kindle Unlimited “checkouts,” which are counted as part of paid sales. In this morning’s check, 45 of the top 100 titles are also available through Kindle Unlimited — and 24 of the top 50 titles. Amazon Publishing’s own titles still appear to be benefitting the most, and self-published authors who are not exclusive to Amazon (and therefore not part of KU) seem to have lost the most bestseller slots. (We still have no idea whether this is affecting actual paid sales, or just bestseller list slots.)
Read on for stats here: http://lunch.publishersmarketplace.com/2014/07/daily-update-influence-kindle-unlimited-amazon-bestsellers-grows/