Oddly Enough: “Colorful Fur Gems of Trading,” From Animal Land to Furtown (Right to Crazytown)

In cleaning the office, I came across a book I bought in Minneapolis a few years back, when the kind folks at Rain Taxi had me up there to do my Ambergris multi-media at the Walker Center.

This is a very strange book from the 1934 that tries to make the fur industry whimsical, gallant, and even humorous. I bought because of the eccentricity of it–the weirdness of the narrative voice, at least to modern ears. It’s really somewhat macabre, and kinda gross to those of us who love animals. Crazy-town narrators in nonfiction always fascinate me, though, since they open up possibilities for characters in fiction.

Here’s a short excerpt from the intro, and some photos of the interior.

[Read more...]

Work Rooms Gone Wrong & Reference Texts: Wot I Did This Weekend

We’ve got a pretty good handle on the house most years, despite all of the incoming materials (sometimes up to 40 books a week) except for my office, in part because I’m not wedded to writing in there, so it invariably becomes this kind of catch-all storage space for stuff. And I don’t mean the review copies. I mean, the boxes and boxes of books I’ve written or Ann and I have edited. This past year we had so many darn books published that it overwhelmed us. Finally, finally got caught up, although still need to vacuum and replace that chair and paint the walls. Part of having an uncluttered mind is having an uncluttered office. Erm, please tell me others have similar horror stories of rooms gone wrong.

Now that I can reach my desk, here’re the reference books I stack there–general stuff, writing books, and then texts specific to future projects. Erm, the Writing Science Fiction & Fantasy book I was supposed to review but haven’t read it yet.

[Read more...]

It’s Good Because It Was Part of My Childhood?

Back when I lived in Fiji as a kid, my sister and I would walk down the hill from our house toward the sea. A little Chinese grocery store stood on the corner. We’d get the usual sweets there, but also these dried prunes covered in salt and a little sugar. They tasted intense, but I loved them. Today I saw them in a store and bought them, although I don’t know if these are actually prunes. It’d been a long time since I’d had one.

[Read more...]

Moomin Moomin Moomin Moomin Moomin Moomin!

My Graphic Novel Friday post on the latest Moomin book.

Because of these qualities, there’s a pleasure in reading Moomin that’s somewhat unique. We’re battered all day by various types of white noise and by all kinds of blaring media, from television to video games. Moomin has a restorative, calming effect while never being maudlin, sentimental, or boring. (Indeed, Jansson’s eye for satire can be sharp and unforgiving, within the context of her beloved characters.)

The Full-Time Writing Life: If It Doesn’t Kill You First, It’ll Kill You Second

Recently, two extremely talented writers, Catherynne M. Valente and Tim Pratt, started writing fiction online in return for donations. Although this may indeed be one of the waves of the future for author transactions on the internet, both writers were forced into it by extremities of circumstance. In Valente’s case this situation occurred because of many months of unemployment for her partner and other factors. In Pratt’s case, the bottom fell out suddenly when his wife lost her job, which also wiped out his main source of freelancing income. (Go to Valente’s page and Pratt’s page to read and donate. Also, Jeremy Tolbert’s post on his aunt’s situation.)

Both situations scared the crap out of me, and my first reaction was a selfish, self-preservation one of “that could never happen to me!” But the fact is, it could happen to me. It could happen to any writer out there, save those who are making so much money that they’re largely impervious.

[Read more...]

Speak for the Tick, Capybara

I swear I’ll stop talking about capybaras on this blog, but someone had mentioned Speak, the capybara on The Tick that The Tick thinks is a dog, until his sidekick Arthur takes Speak to the vet. (Speak only speaks twice in the whole history of the show.)

Here’s more from wikipedia that’s just too funny. And now I’m done talking about capybaras.

In his own right Speak’s appearance was unusual for a capybara in that he appeared to lack any kind of neck and his head was much larger in comparison to his body than is true for a capybara. Although described as “moist” he was rarely seen in the water, but this likely came from the constraints of living in the characters’ apartment. Unrelated to his “capybara-ness” he also had a kind of eczema and a runny nose.

Speak generally lived in the cupboard beneath the sink in Arthur’s kitchen. He appears to have been completely terrified of the Tick. The Tick was, of course, completely oblivious to this.

Capybara Update: Celeste and the Giant Hamster at Omnivoracious

I just posted a feature on Melanie Typaldos’ excellent Celeste and the Giant Hamster on Omnivoracious. As I say in the feature, the chain of events that led to even knowing about this book looks something like this:

[Read more...]

Self-Publishing: When to Do It, When Not to Do It, and More

Christina Baker Kline has posted a round-robin interview on self-publishing that took place on Facebook when Matthew Nadelhaft queried a few authors through Facebook’s email. Participants included Minister Faust, Stephen Dedman, Eugie Foster, Jennifer Stevenson, Michael Stackpole, and myself. Go check it out–lots of good stuff.

I self-published my first fiction collection, The Book of Frog, and also The Surgeon’s Tale & Other Tales (with Cat Rambo)–the context for each consistent with my views on self-publishing as it exists today. If you can’t get traction in the publishing world with a first collection despite having had stories in good publications, I think it’s okay to self-publish. If you’ve got books out from major publishers and you want to do a less commercial project, I think it’s okay to self-publish. That said, within five to ten years, self-publishing in general will probably lose its stigma altogether and we’ll have a situation closer to what you find in indie music.

Anyway, some of what I set forth in the conversations piece is also in my forthcoming Booklife: Strategies & Survival Tips for the 21st-Century Writer, like this bit:

It’s also good, in a time when “book” means a lot of different things, to boil down the book lifecycle to the following:

• Creation and perfection of content
• Acquisition of a platform (or format) for the content
• Creation and perfection of the “skin” (aesthetic) and context for the content
• Accessibility to the content
• Visibility for the content