A frolic through the author graveyard

Frolicking is very exciting, I know. And Steve Soper took a frolic through the graveyards of New England to check out the tombstones of some famous American authors.

A slightly morbid way to end the day? Maybe. But still pretty cool.

Honesty is the best policy

In today's vein of depressing things about the world, there's a lot of worrying and complaining (kvetching, if you will) around the publishing blogosphere about trying to get an agent, trying to get published, and the mountain of rejections that comes with all of that. But what happens once you're published? More of the same, it seems.

An anonymous mid-list writer with four books under her belt writes about the insecurities and difficulties of a writing life, even after being published. After getting national media attention, a first advance of $150,000, and winning several awards she still can't make the writing life work financially. Proving, yet again, that anyone who wants to write for money better do it for love. Love the craft, people. Love the craft.

Tolerance is a skill we should cultivate

Hello, fellow pessimists. I read a lot of the interwebs this weekend, and saw the huge number of comments attached to Nathan Bransford's post about how much publishing houses make off a book relative to the author. And, after reading 200 plus comments, I can safely say (not to any of my readers, because you are all perfect, but to the larger world):

Author folk: you need to chill out.

First, the conspiracy theories have to go. Publishers are not trying to lose money (even when it appears otherwise). And although some of you might be able to do a good job "saving the industry," you are not working in publishing, doing that good job.

Second, while writers make very little money, people in publishing also make very little money. I know people who have worked for travel stipends and for no benefits (those ones are me). I know people who have been working in publishing for years and are technically interns, making an hourly wage (or working for friggin free, people. For free).

The moral here is that yea, mid-list writers make almost no money. But most people who work in publishing make almost nothing. Ten years of publishing experience pays slightly less than a 21 year old college graduate working in finance (did your stomach just curdle? Mine did). And almost everyone in publishing has to stretch that salary in New York City, the most expensive city in the country.

So chill out, drop the conspiracy theories, and don't take it out on the people trying to make a living in publishing. No one goes into book publishing for profit. They do it for free books and the chance to read for work.


Friday is for naps

I was going to write posts for today but, it turns out, I have a lot of leftovers to eat. So nothing from me here, nothing from me at Pimp My Novel, lots of me at the fridge.

See you Monday!


Legos make everything possible

Have you ever felt that a good Lego-Matrix crossover was missing from your world? If so, check this out:

Keanu Reeves and his Lego counterpart actually have similar acting ranges.

How to ruin a book's resale value

The New Zealand Book Council has a great video for Going West by Maurice Gee. It involves awesomeness:

Costco impresses even Eric Ripert

World famous chef Eric Ripert (whose silver hair should not be confused with Jay Manuel) was tricked into a Costco trip by food writer Alan Richman. And you know what? He loved it.

Check out the video of the trip and the subsequent meal and Costco veneration below:

May your Thanksgiving meals be as tasty and Costco-centric!

Thanksgiving is for slacking. And videos!

Hello, friends and foes (mostly friends! Foes, you know who you are). For Thanksgiving I will be gluttonous and taking a break from publishing news. Instead you'll be getting a string of videos that are awesome.*

So, when you get overloaded with family fun and grease fires and emergency room visits because someone dropped a frozen turkey on his foot, know that content is here for you during your internet and/or booze breaks (which, let's face it, you'll probably need).

The first video is kind of a softball, to get you warmed up for the day:

*Awesomeness is completely subjective. Just deal.


Goat castle

Seriously. Check it out.

Nerd insults with line from first century poet, gets sued

Mark Lowe, a London financier, texted a vulgar Catallus line to an employee, and is getting sued for discrimination:
The line in question (misquoted by the BBC website, and perhaps, for all I know, by Lowe himself) is this: "pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo". The BBC declines to translate it, merely saying that it "threatens a violent sexual act", but I am not so coy. It means "I will bugger you and stuff your gobs." (The Wikipedia entry on the poem contains the full text and a reasonable translation.)
The article goes on to talk about how the media has been shy about translating. But I have to say, what kind of weirdo is going around texting Latin? Who has either memorized enough Catallus or looked it up to text? Doesn't that bespeak a lot (a lot) of effort?

People need hobbies.

The internet attacks print (for real)

Penguin is doing some crazy "augmented reality" shenanigans with the next installment of the "Vampire Academy" series. Galley Cat says:
Developed by the tech company Ogmento, the trippy cover will blend text, images and video into a surreal new viewing experience. The "Vampire Academy" series has already sold 2.25 million copies to an eager readership of tech-savvy kids.
Seriously, check this out. I want all of my books to have this:


Judging books by their covers

Now, I know we're not supposed to judge books by covers, but, hell, we're gonna do it anyway. Good Comics is having a contest to pick the most iconic DC comic covers, and you can participate in the judging!

Not super interested in comic books? Omnivoricious put together a gallery of the best book covers of 2009, and the Book Cover Archive put together a list of the top ten book covers this decade. And, if you're not a huge fan of what they chose, check out the Book Cover Archive's archive.

Holiday shopping lists, from people more famous than you

It's getting to be the uniquely American, month long (at least) holiday season. How do I know this? Because ABC Family has already started showing Christmas movies, even though their 25 Days of Christmas thing hasn't technically started yet. Have you started shopping for yours truly? Slash your family and friends?

Never fret, fellow procrastinators. Penguin has put together a massive list of books to give and get suggested by a massive list of authors, including Elizabeth Gilbert, Patricia Cornwall, Sue Grafton, Nick Hornby, Sue Monk Kidd, Mark Kurlansky, and Frank Bruni, among others.

The Observer also has a similar list of baller books,with lists from Kazuo Ishiguro, Hari Kunzru, Sam Mendes, Curtis Sittenfeld, Malcolm Gladwell, Vivienne Westwood, Colum McCann, and Nick Hornby (again).

I am very happy to recieve any presents. You can address them to:
Laura C. Ombreviations
c/o The Internet

Tweet a book or a book of tweets?

Welcome to Tweetbookz (with a z)—this isn't your grandma's tweeted book. Then what is it, you ask? It's a company that, if you give then money, will print out a bunch of your tweets (that you select!) and bind them. Not impressed yet? Check out this sweet video:

Sponsored by Harlequin.


Handwritten Bible worth more than my life

The handwritten Bible I mentioned last week was auctioned off on Ebay and closed with a bid of $15,407.53, making it about $15,406 out of my price range.

So, instead, I'm investing in a Wii and the new video game Mass We Pray (which, since it's on a Wii, I think should be Mass Wii Pray, but, you know, whatever):

If this isn't real I think my heart will drop out of my body in sadness.

Swine flu and the e-book team up, destroy America

Hand sanitizer out, readers. A new e-only extension of The Vaccine Book has been released, to directly address swine flu and the swiney vaccine. The author, Dr. Robert Sears, said:
Since I wrote "The Vaccine Book," several important changes have occurred that I wish I could have immediately updated. This is true for virtually any medical book, and it takes many months before such changes can appear in a subsequent book printing. eBooks can be immediately updated as new information comes out, and breaking health news topics can easily be added to compliment any health book.
Oh, whatever, "timeliness" and "necessary information." Clearly this is fat cat e-publishers trying to hide facts from the paper book reader. Plus there's also a government conspiracy to spread swine flu through the internet.

Harlequin Horizons is no more (sort of)

I posted about Harlequin Horizons last week, and Janet Reid has done all the hard work rounding up the outrage and shenanigans for me here, here, and here.

I've more or less exhausted my thirty second attention span for this issue, but I thought I'd fill you in on (what I hope is) the end of the shenanigans: Harlequin Horizons is dying, but only technically, because they're changing the name to not refer to Harlequin any more.

They haven't said they're dissolving the partnership or giving up any potential profits, nor have they decided to remove the plug for the vanity press in rejection letters. But they're going to distance themselves by changing the name of a controversial project.

Everybody wins!

Eggo shortage is a sign of the apocalypse

Over at Pimp My Novel, Kate pointed out the Eggo shortage ravaging the country. Thank goodness, Stephen Colbert has addressed the issue:

The Colbert Report
Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Eggo Waffles Shortage Alert

Colbert Report Full Episodes
Political Humor
U.S. Speedskating

This is yet another reason to buy a waffle iron. That, plus waffle iron pizza pockets.


Fighting Christmas creep

Bless you, Nordstrom, for this.

You know what? Maybe go crazy and hold off on Christmas decorations until December.

Typography? Really?

I cannot believe I read this whole article on typography, although it does feed my theory that the New York Times needs to stop pretending to deliver news.

Among the things typographers think about:
Choosing an inappropriate typeface is one problem. Applying one inaccurately is another. Sadly for type nuts, movies often offend on both counts. Take “Titanic,” in which the numbers on the dials of the ship’s pressure gauges use Helvetica, a font designed in 1957, some 45 years after the real “Titanic” sank.

I don't really get the love of font (at all), but hey, who am I to judge hobbies? Especially when I spend my free time writing...this...oh.

Hooking the anonymous blogger

Longtime anonymous blogger Belle de Jour has revealed herself (I know, this was days ago, forgive my slowness) as scientist Dr. Brooke Magnanti. I was never that interested in Belle, but the reveal article was really compelling. An excerpt:
Despite all this, there is still 10% of me that expects to be met by some rubicund older man—some literary rouĂ© of the old school, guffawing at the joke—at the Soho hotel where we are doing the interview. Instead, there is Brooke: 34 years old, small, slight, wearing a purple sweater dress and flat boots with woolly socks folded over the top, her blonde hair in a clip, holding a box of biscuits she’s brought me from Croatia, where she’s just been for her medical work.
The article goes on to discuss her work as a scientist and as a prostitute, and shines a light on the varied experiences of prostitution. I do take issue with her dismissal of human trafficking as a problem for borders—legalizing prostitution always increases human trafficking, which makes it more than just a border issue—but her stance is interesting and worth the read.

Links galore

Go click on through to Pimp my Novel. Check out the weekly round up, and feel free to leave compliments here, as I run on compliments. I also run on Girl Scout cookies, Bravo reality TV, and scoffing.


How good was Darwin's first draft?

I would tell you, if I could read his handwriting. Maybe you can tell me, because I hear that:
The Darwin Manuscripts Project will place online about 10,000 high-quality images of Darwin’s scientific manuscripts and notes. These pages include 34 of the 36 known and located draft leaves of Origin, gathered together for the first time since Darwin wrote his seminal book.
Funny, I couldn't find the introduction to Origin of Species pushing intelligent design in those 10,000 images. It must have gotten lost.

Carin' for Carlin

Although he's gone, George Carlin's memory lives on, in what he called a sorta-biography that was just published. NPR, being hip and with it, interviewed his co-author Tony Hendra, who talked about the book, answered some questions, but mostly sat through other people repeating George Carlin bits. And you know what? There is a reason most people are not comedians.

If you're so inclined, I've embedded the interview below, but it might be more fun to click here and read what Carlin wrote about his own conception. Some people got it, some people...call into radio shows and repeat what a famous comedian once said.

Ha cha cha.

Stop, drop and roll: Twilight is coming

Are you ready for some Twilight? ...No? Too early? Well, sack up, people—the new movie comes out Friday, and, while it may be a B-movie, the screams of Twi-hards the world round may or may not create Higgs boson particles and potentially destroy the universe (suck on that, Large Hadron Collider).

In the hopes of full preparedness, you should check out these Twilight products (kind of NSFW, unless your employers are ok with sparkly dildos and face panties). Gawker has some great stories with each product, that have scarred me for at least the rest of the day.

If these things aren't permanent enough for you, check out this HuffPo gallery of Twilight tattoos. For those of you who are avid fans of me (hi Grandma!), you'll remember I linked to a different gallery of Twilight tattoos way back in July, but never fear—I only see one tattoo overlap. And yes, there are Twilight tramp stamps (take that, word of the year).

So take a bite (hilarious!) of what's out there. And don't worry—it's kosher.


Harlequin will reject you and then publish you anyway

Oh yea, you heard that right. Harlequin is launching a new imprint, Harlequin Horizons, for self-publishing romance writers. PW writes:
[A]uthors whose manuscripts have been rejected by Harlequin will be made aware of the Harlequin Horizons option and authors who sign with Author Solutions will be given the opportunity to be published under the Harlequin Horizons imprint.
Now, unfortunately, you will have to pay for the service, but you can be a published Harlequin author!

Harlequin is delving into a whole new aspect market, with this self-pubbed imprint and their recent launch of their e-book only imprint. Romance-writing ladies and gentlemen, have at it.

I have heard the word of the Lord

And it is spoken by Richard Dreyfuss. A new audiobook of the Bible is coming out with an all-star cast. For $125 you can hear Luke "Judas" Perry betray James "Jesus" Caviezel.

Question: would you follow Richard Dreyfuss into the desert? And would you rather listen to stars preach, read the Bible on your Xbox, or see how other people recopy the Word?

Breakfast time?

Cook something up with Coolio!

Seriously. He has a cookbook. And it comes out...today.


Waffle bacon: Life has meaning

Dear anyone who wants to buy me presents,

Please, for the love of all that is holy and a lot that isn't, purchase me a waffle iron. First there were waffle cookies, then waffle cake, and now waffle bacon (there's a video!). There are a lot of things I could say, but what it comes down to is this: I simply cannot continue to live without a waffle iron.

I am a holiday omnivore, and will pretend to celebrate anything you want me to in exchange for said waffle iron.

Your best friend,

Laura C. Ombreviations

E-ppreciating the art of bookbinding

I love me some technology with reading (yes, commenters, I must be in cahoorts with e-readers. I also eat babies and once cried during an episode of The Office because Dwight was so sad and that made me sad. ...Actually, that last one is true). I am insanely attached to no longer carrying around three to five books at any given time, because that's how I read and because that shit is heavy. That said, there are some experiences you can't replicate, and one of those is below.

Jacket Copy (a blog I love) says that the video below embodies the opposite of an e-book. I say nay, Jacket Copy—this is technology and books combined for the best. Digital pictures and videos plus bookmaking equals this:

Oxford has been unfriended

I'm sorry, Oxford. You chose "unfriend" as your word of 2009 over "tramp stamp," and I will never forgive you.

I guess technically "tramp stamp" is a phrase, not a word, but it's on the list of contenders (below "sexting" and "teabagger"). And your definition is so, so choice:
tramp stamp: a tattoo on the lower back, usually on a woman
Usually on a woman? The gauntlet is thrown, readers. Find me a man with a tramp stamp, and you will get the $20 I'm getting from Moonrat for "helping" with her troll problem.*

*This is totally void if I never get paid, which is, sadly enough, more than likely.

Martin for martinets

George R.R. Martin is wonderful. End of story.

Ok, some people won't just take my word on that, and have to be convinced. At the Guardian book blog, Sam Jordison writes about falling in love with GRRM. Most of the article is about not wanting to read Martin's books, but then he comes around and recognizes that the Song of Ice and Fire series is faboosh. I have distilled the good things he has to say below:
Martin has a great talent when it comes to placing his reader inside the heads of his characters....I couldn't stop reading....I read A Game Of Thrones with genuine pleasure....Martin's writing is excellent. His dialogue is snappy and frequently funny. His descriptive prose is immediate and atmospheric, especially when it comes to building a sense of deliciously dark foreboding relating to a long winter that is about to engulf his fictional land....Indeed, darkness is something Martin excels in....I know why they call it dragon-crack. I have no choice but to read the next novel.
Feel free to read the whole post (it's pretty interesting), but for those of you who don't like to hear bad things about GRRM: don't say I never did anything for you. Take the compliments and run.


Little snacks on the prairie

I always liked Laura Ingalls Wilder (even though I recently found out she didn't really write her books all alone). Not only do we share a name, but she wrote about my favorite topic: snacks. Syrup treats frozen in snow, sticks of candy from the general store, meal after meal after meal—these were not books to be read without something to eat nearby.

For those of you who are also ye olde snack inclined, there's a Little House Cookbook, that Omnivoricious' Lauren (close enough to Laura) writes about:
Thirty years have passed since the publication of The Little House Cookbook in 1979, yet somehow, it feels more relevant than ever, especially in the context of our current efforts to obtain and eat food that is more wholesome, less processed, and made from scratch (preferably at home).
You hear that? Cooking like the Wilders is not only delicious, but twee and hipster too. Is there no end to Laura's greatness? If only she had known about waffle cookies...

Apostrophes: The devil's punctuation

The misuse of apostrophes runs rampant in our fair country, and I have made the elimination of this societal woe the sole focus of the rest of my life. Check out this flowchart!

Responsibility: discharged.

Cormac McCarthy, my new hero

Generally speaking, I hate author interviews. I don't like it when author personalities intrude in my reading space. In my imagination, authors are little writing machines, who have names only to keep me from confusing them with each other. I don't want to hear about their personal lives, their favorite football teams, or their tragic childhoods (I'll read the thinly veiled version in their novels, thank you very much).


Cormac McCarthy's interview at the Wall Street Journal was just so, so brilliant that I can't not link to it. A favorite excerpt:
There are signed copies of [The Road], but they all belong to my son John, so when he turns 18 he can sell them and go to Las Vegas or whatever. No, those are the only signed copies of the book....So occasionally I get letters from book dealers or whoever that say, "I have a signed copy of the 'The Road,'" and I say, "No. You don't."
People apparently only read mystery stories of any length. With mysteries, the longer the better and people will read any damn thing. But the indulgent, 800-page books that were written a hundred years ago are just not going to be written anymore and people need to get used to that. If you think you're going to write something like "The Brothers Karamazov" or "Moby-Dick," go ahead. Nobody will read it. I don't care how good it is, or how smart the readers are. Their intentions, their brains are different.
And perhaps the best gem here:
I'm not interested in writing short stories. Anything that doesn't take years of your life and drive you to suicide hardly seems worth doing.
Cormac McCarthy, you have just made my hall of heroes (and what makes me love you more is knowing that you don't give two shits if I like you or not). Read the whole thing—it's absolutely worth it.


Loving an older man

A 2,000 year old man, to be exact.

Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner are putting out a 50th anniversary, 4 disc special of their 2,000 Year Old Man routine. As someone who lived through many a family road trip only because of these CDs, I say: thank you, gods of commerce, putting this out just in time for holiday gifts.

The New York Times has an article with an awesome interview. And, for those unfamiliar with sketch, check out a video below:

(And no, I don't plan on regularly blogging on the weekends. ...I just got excited.)


Computers hate your writing

England is so over making people read the essays students write. Instead they have a computer program that analyzes the essays, and you know what? It sucks at its job (womp womp, computer).

It tried to analyze some Churchill, but "didn’t understand the purpose of the speech." A politician talking? Purposeless? Well...ok, computer. You can slide on that. Passages from A Clockwork Orange were "deemed incomprehensible," as well, although that may have had something to do with the Nasdat involved.

The program also gave Hemingway below average, which, you know, shame on it. But the worst part?
It is already in use in America, where some children have learnt to write in a style which the computer appreciates, known as "schmoozing the computer".
No, children, you're supposed to schmooze your teachers, by bringing them apples and sucking up, thus making yourselves unpopular and setting the world up for more teen movies. These are time honored traditions!

I know this is the audience to which I can say: if you're putting in the effort to write something, you at least hope a person will actually read it (no offense to my robot followers).

Trick or trook, smell my book

Want to track the degrading quality of your favorite book? Science can analyze the smell coming off of a book to see what's happening in its disintegration.

While technically this is intended for old manuscripts and books, probably at libraries and museums and the like, I think this is most useful for determining which old used books I should buy, based on how long it will take for them to fall apart.

Combreviations: helping cheap people skimp on used books since 2009.

Friday round up

...But not here. Head over to Pimp My Novel for the Friday round up. And then come back here. Bring friends!


E-erotica is e-rousing

Harlequin has finally come to grips with the fact that its covers are super embarassing, and is launching an e-imprint, Carina Press. I for one applaud this move away from making people admit what they're reading in public. They say:
Carina Press will publish a wide variety of genre fiction aimed at women including romance, erotica, family sagas, science fiction and mysteries.
I firmly believe that the greatest good an e-reader can do is to hide my reading habits from the public. And Carina Press, bless its heart, is doing all it can to protect my fragile, fragile reputation with strangers.

And for you romance writers (hello!), the imprint is looking for short stories, genre fiction, and full novels.Submit away!

Creationists and Darwin, sitting in a tree

Sort of. Well, I don't know if they're sitting in the tree so much as swinging from its branches, because we're all monkeys. It's science!

Living Waters, an evangelical organization, will be distributing On the Origin of Species on 100 college campuses, with a condemning 50 page introduction (you can download the PDF here). Unfortunately, they stopped just short of making sassy annotations and, as Pimp My Novel's Eric said, "shitting on his parade."

Darwin does not like having his parade shat on, people. Shit not on Darwin, or face his evolutionary wrath.

Please sir, can I have some more (sales)?

The economy sucks, and publishing is a dinosaur of an industry. A plus B equals a lot of manuscripts getting orphaned.

Editors are always moving from house to house, but with the current economic "situation" more are jumping ship (or walking the plank) than usual, leaving beind projects that they acquired but that no one else has the time or the inclination to pick up. Some of these are great lyrical works, magnum opuses (opusi?) that would have changed the world and sold really well with the proper help. Most of them are mid-list filler titles that were acquired to make up numbers.

The article says that you can overcome the bad sales and reputation left by orphan-itis by writing under a pseudonym or getting a new hobby slash career. The moral here: writing is a crap career.


A better way to read the interwebs

Does the single column method of reading text online suck? Some would say yes.

Because of the short and wide appearance of the computer screen—the Danny DeVito, if you will—the reader is constantly forced to scroll, like a 12th century monk with an actual scroll. The answer, at least in the link above, is multiple columns across the screen.

I'm undecided on this. Curling up with my laptop and forgetting I'm on the internet doesn't really strike me as desirable or even feasible. I'd prefer a totally separate instrument for long form reading—an e-reader, perhaps. Or even one of those paper type books. Crazy? Maybe. But...no, that's it.

Octogenarians authors don't feel the love

Robert McCrum hates on older authors, saying their work starts to take a nosedive with age. He writes:
If most writers' reputations are made, or at least begun, before the age of 40, then very few novelists put many runs on the scoreboard after 70. Arguably, they can even start to damage their reputations, as anguished fans concede that their idols have feet of clay.
I think the argument McCrum is trying to make is that a lot of great authors have great first works, and after that pretty much everyone tanks. That perhaps "people run out of ideas eventually, especially after three decades as a writer."

I don't think an 80 year old is any more likely to write something terrible than a 20 year old (which is to say, most people's books are terrible regardless of age. Except for your novel, reader. That one is great. That guy you hate? His is terrible). Thoughts?

Apocalyptic fiction: It has gotten more messed up

About twenty years ago we went bananas and stopped being able to blame the apocalypse on robots and/or sin. Because apparently we don't care any more about why the world ends—we just want to see what happens after the cool explosions and burning and what have you.

Perhaps the most important part, though, is this:
I recently finished a thesis project on post-apocalyptic genre fiction, and in my research I made a list of 423 books, poems, and short stories about the apocalypse, published between 1826-2007, and charted them by the way their earth met its demise (humans, nature, god, etc.) to see the trends over time.
Someone got a degree for reading about how we imagine the world ending. Please. Sign. Me. Up.

There's also a great graph. Clicky clicky.


Waffle cookies, oh em gee

  1. Make cookie dough. Do not eat right away. For reals. Just put it in the freezer.
  2. Purchase a waffle iron.
  3. Have a crappy day of a badness level that requires greater than one cookie, but less than an entire batch.
  4. Put cookie dough in waffle iron.
  5. Magic.
No, this is not publishing related. But everyone loves cookies.*

*You are not welcome at this blog if you don't love cookies.

Finding poetry in all the wrong places

So here's a doozy for you: is "found" poetry plagiarized? Andrew Motion's recently published poem, An Equal Voice, is made up of quotations from several generations of shell-shocked soldiers. But Ben Shepard says that almost all of the quotations were taken from his book.

Shepard didn't write the quotes, but he did collect them (although, since they're from a number of generations, I don't think he conducted the interviews himself). Alison Flood wrote in the Guardian article:
Motion said his poem drew on "a long and honourable tradition" of "found" poetry, pointing to TS Eliot's The Waste Land, Ruth Padel's poetic biography of Charles Darwin and Anthony Thwaite's Victorian Voices. "It goes right back to Shakespeare," he said. "It's very well established."
So: plagiarized or not? And, if not plagiarized, ethically questionable?

Getting ghetto lit

Juan Williams wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal about ghetto lit in America.

Williams is very down on the genre, writing, "Not only the best but the worst that can be said about these books is they are an authentic literary product of 21st-century black America. They are poorly written, poorly edited and celebrate the worst of black life."

So here's the question: is it better to have ghetto lit, or to get rid of it and potentially have all of those readers not read anything? Is this the same situation with condemning kids who read Harry Potter?

Vook at that

So I may or may not have scoffed at the Vook (probably closer to "may"), and that may or may not have been because it sounded stupid. But, with the invention of the cookvook, I have seen the light.

Up until now, YouTube has been a big part of my cooking (when you say julienne, you mean...what? What's that quick way to chop onions (not fingers)? Define "saucepan."). Thus, instructions that include videos, that I can download to my cellphone and be all "Oh I'm just making calls not getting instructions I totally know how to cook what of course I won't poison you just go back to the table Mom" would be very, very useful.

Back me up, fellow cooking Vook converts. I know you're out there...


Writing a novel: Apparently hard

The Wall Street Journal ran an article about how different authors write. For the sake of brevity (although it's worth the read!) I've summed it up for you:

Nicholson Baker writes in the dark, Orhan Pamuk rewrites a lot, Hilary Mantel writes early, Kazuo Ishiguro researches and then writes, Michael Ondaatje cuts and pastes with scissors, and Richard Powers chats to a computer (which does the writing for him).

Dan Chaon writes on notecards, Margaret Atwood writes on menus, Edwidge Dandicant makes inspiration collages, Junot Diaz writes on the tub (not in it, but on the edge), Amitav Ghosh writes by hand, Russell Banks writes in a sugar shack, Colum McCann manipulates font size, Anne Rice only likes three words per screen, John Wray writes on the train, and Laura Lippman uses yarn and a graph.

Of all of the authors profiled, by favorite by far is Kate Christensen. She writes by playing a lot of solitaire.

Jane Austen, drunk and dancing

There's a Jane Austen exhibit at The Morgan, that the lazy (and non-New York based) need not go to, because the New York Times went and wrote it up for us. Janey wrote letters, a few books (or so I hear), and partied:
In [a letter], from 1800, she confides that she must have drunk too much at a ball the night before; she danced 9 of the 12 dances, she said, and “was merely prevented from dancing the rest by the want of a partner.”
Sassy, Jane! Also, suspiciously similar to a Pride and Prejudice line. I think the point made here is that, while the Bronte sisters were wet blankets, I would take Jane Austen to any kegger.

Walden dies, no one cares

Ok, maybe that's unfair. Walden dies, I don't care. Walden is my least favorite of bookstores. My bookshelf at home is unorganized and only has things I don't really want to read--why would I want that in a bookstore?

The news is that 200 out of 330 outlets will close. But it's not a downsizing:
Borders CEO Ron Marshall said that “through this right-sizing, we will reduce the number of stores with operating losses, reduce our overall rent expense and lease-adjusted leverage and generate cash flow through sales and working capital reductions.”
So don't be sad for the people holding the 1,500 jobs that will be eliminated. Because it's a right-sizing. The best line is this, however:
The company also said it plans to integrate the remaining Walden stores into its superstore computer system to create a single platform.
When you think of the superstore computer system, imagine there are lasers.