My short story “Toll Road” will be published in July!

January 31, 2011 Writing Comments (0) 254

Huzzah! I just got word that my short story Toll Road will be published in the July 2011 issue of Collective Fallout, a great literary magazine dedicated to queer-themed genre and speculative fiction, poetry, and art.  They even do a print edition, which is increasingly rare with short story markets these days!

I’ll post more information as the issue grows closer. In the meantime, please check out Collective Fallout – quality short story markets are an endangered species, and they need your support!

Continue Reading

Binding a 10,000-page book

January 28, 2011 Writing Comments (0) 304

Hand-binding books is a hobby of mine. I’ve hand-bound a couple of very limited editions (read: one to three copies) of a couple of novels I’ve written as gifts for my beta readers. Those books worked out to be around 500 pages each, and they were difficult to assemble. I can hardly imagine the challenges of binding a book with ten thousand pages.

Thanks to The University of Iowa Libraries, there’s no need to imagine. When author Bill Voss composed a 10,000-page poem and decided to bind it entirely in a single volume, he kept a photo journal of the process that’s now on the Libraries’ blog. It’s very interesting, and the process differs significantly from what I did with 500 pages.  The final result was a book two feet thick.  For bibliophiles, this is sort of like an exhibit at the Mutter Museum.

Continue Reading

Kindle Books Outselling Paperbacks on Amazon

January 28, 2011 Writing Comments (0) 296

Hot news this morning: as part of their fourth quarter sales announcement, Amazon revealed that Kindle books are now outselling paperback books by about 15 percent. A couple of years ago this would have triggered hand-wringing and doomsday prognostication about the death of publishing.  Today, at least according to my Google Reader, people are taking the news in stride.

Personally, I’m not all that surprised. As a new Kindle owner myself, I don’t anticipate buying many paperback books – and if you think about the sales model for paperbacks, it makes sense.  People generally buy paperbacks out of (1) cost-consciousness or (2) convenience – for instance, the urge to pick up reading material for a long flight, or on a whim at the grocery store or Walmart.  It is impossible to grab a book at Amazon (unless you have a Kindle, of course – which is why Amazon has smartly started selling Kindles in several airports) which leaves the price point as the main reason most people would by a paperback on Amazon.  Kindle books are generally as cheap or cheaper than paperbacks and have the advantage of instant delivery, so as more and more people pick up e-readers – Amazon also mentions that Kindle has officially become their top-selling single product ever, eclipsing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – I am not at all surprised that paperback sales are eclipsed.

What’s really interesting, is that Amazon says paperback sales have grown, not shrunk. Is this a sign that buying Kindle books makes people more interested in reading in general – and perhaps more inclined to pick up a book in paperback when they discover something interesting with no Kindle version? Or are those sales from people who have no other place to buy their paperbacks, as more and more physical bookstores have to close their doors?

Continue Reading

How Nicholas Sparks broke through

January 27, 2011 Writing Comments (0) 246 has a brief and somewhat interesting interview with Nicholas Sparks in which he discusses how The Notebook was really his last-ditch effort at getting published. At the time he’d written a few books, one of which enjoyed some small success but two of which were unpublished, and was working full-time as a pharmaceutical rep.

…at 28-years-old, I had realized I didn’t want to move my family every couple of years. I also knew at the same time that I didn’t want to be a pharmaceutical rep for the rest of my life. So, I had an epiphany. I said, “Okay, I’m going to give writing another shot” and you know, I came up with the story for The Notebook, and I had two small children at that time. I had from 9 am to midnight to work and so I did, three or four days a week. Six months later, I had finished the novel. Three years prior to that, I hadn’t written a thing.

Warner Brothers picked up the rights for The Notebook for $1 million. Sparks went on to write 15 more bestsellers. How’s that for a dream come true? Continue Reading

Continue Reading

The site might look a little weird for a while

January 26, 2011 Personal Comments (0) 235

I’m playing around with a new look for the site, so please bear with me.

Continue Reading

Why the USA desperately needs to bring back Civics class

January 19, 2011 In The News, Politics / Religion Comments (0) 408


I do not post this video to mock Rita, or to praise Michelangelo Signorile, or even to trash Sarah Palin. I post it to call attention to the desperate need in the United States for sound civics education.

Rita sounds perfectly reasonable, and fairly articulate, but she is wrong. I’m not saying I disagree with her opinions, I’m saying she is factually incorrect.  With these incorrect facts as premises, she has constructed a (presumably) logical view of the world and of American politics that is entirely warped, and that is sad. Continue Reading

Continue Reading

“I feel like I’m betraying books.”

January 18, 2011 Personal, Writing Comments (0) 244

Even as I spoke the words, they caught me by surprise.  My mother told me she was considering a gift for my 32nd birthday, and was thinking about either a pressure cooker or a pasta roller, unless there was something else I wanted.

“Actually,” I found myself saying, “I think I’d like a Kindle.”

I must say that when the e-Book revolution began, I regarded the devices with a mixture of fear and horror.  Though far from a Luddite, I’m a purist when it comes to books.  I enjoy a good hour spent perusing the shelves at The Book Trader, my local used book store, and in recent years even taught myself to hand-bind books, creating limited-edition versions of my own writings to give away as gifts.  To me the advent of the e-book reader foreshadowed the ultimate death of book stores, the end of libraries, and ultimately a lurch forward in the slow death of the written word.  I took no interest in the devices – in fact, I would say I avoided them.

That changed the first time I held an actual Kindle, while Christmas shopping in December.  It was so light – like lifting one of the fake notebook computers at IKEA.  I started thinking how I might finally finish books like Under the Dome and A People’s History of the United States, whose sheer bulk made carrying them around for reading on the train or at the laundromat impossible.  I was curious about e-ink, which had been the subject of much praise when the Kindle debuted, and felt a sense of wonder when I realized the letters displayed on the device were not, in fact, a translucent decal – they were the actual display. Continue Reading

Continue Reading