Friday, March 9, 2012

YA Writers Behaving Badly?

Literary agent Jennifer Laughran laments what she sees as authors self-destructively 'crossing the line' with social media:
So you know very well that you are talking to not just your friends, but to a group of people who work with kids and/or kids books all day long. Do you seriously think I, or any one of those other professional children's book people, will want to bring you in for an event, or tell the marketing team about you, or otherwise promote your picture book when we know you are making comments about the looks of 16 year old "jailbait" on youtube, publicly bemoaning your erectile dysfunction on facebook, instagramming pictures of your rum-soaked bachelorette party, posting unfunny pedophilia jokes on your blog, or talking about MILFS at a school event on Twitter? Do you imagine a PARENT would see all this and give your book to their KID? Are you nuts?
Certainly some authors act foolishly and probably damage their careers with their online sins. But I think there's another dynamic at work here: Authors are writing for multiple audiences, and I'm not referring to writing in multiple genres or hoping to 'cross over.'

Why 'crossing the line' is often rational:

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Faster Path to Flow

Electrify your brain, and not in a metaphorical sense.

From The New Scientist:

Diy brain enhancement

Zapping your brain with a small current seems to improve everything from mathematical skills to marksmanship, but for now your best chance of experiencing this boost is to sign up for a lab experiment. Machines that provide transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) cost £5000 a pop, and their makers often sell them only to researchers.
That hasn't stopped a vibrant community of DIY tDCS enthusiasts from springing up. Their online forums are full of accounts of their home-made experiments, including hair-curling descriptions of blunders that, in one case, left someone temporarily blind.
What drives people to take such risks? Roy Hamilton, a neuroscientist at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, thinks it is part of a general trend he calls cosmetic neuroscience, in which people try to tailor their brains to the demands of an increasingly fast-paced world. "In a society where both students and their professors take stimulant medications to meet their academic expectations," he warns, "the potential pressure for the use of cognitive enhancing technologies of all types is very real".
Given how much technology distracts us, it only seems fair that it pay back some of that lost time...

How much risk would you take for something that improved your creative process? Any tricks to get you into "flow"?   

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Always Behind the Times

I was probably the last person in my college class to get a cell phone. Even when I got it, I only reluctantly learned to text, because pushing those little buttons with big thumbs seemed an aesthetic sin. (Though I now love texting because I'm never vigilant enough to actually answer my phone when it's 'ringing').

In this spirit of belatedness, I've just now started a Facebook page, so feel free to friend me if any of you are still on it.

I hope that link works. If it doesn't, scold me in the comments or by email. Or search for me by name. I believe I'm the only one out there.


For those who last year expressed interest in the dog spin-off blog, After Argos, a blog for dog lovers, should launch in the near future. You can also drop me a line if you might be interested in guest posting.


Dog picture of the day, a chi on a chair.


I've been challenged to put some short stories out there, so I may do that in the near future. I could joke about how I'm over a half-century late for the whole short story thing, but I prefer to cling to the naive notion that short fiction will make a comeback.


So are there any innovations you came to embarrassingly late?


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Even Giants Like to Stretch Their Legs

Dwight Garner of the New York Times has discovered Kindle Singles, and he dubs them "probably the best reason to buy an e-reader in the first place." He adds:
Amazon calls them “compelling ideas expressed at their natural length.” If I didn’t loathe the word “compelling,” I’d think that wasn’t a half-bad slogan.
Like a bookstore, they're a more-focused slush pile, and the level of achievement unsurprisingly varies greatly. Excessive consistency is a sign that the form's no longer evolving.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Steal My E-Reader and the Furies Will Track You Down

This sounds like poetic justice, from the Mercury News:
Palo Alto police were apparently looking for a single stolen iPad when they arrived Thursday at The Woods... The cops had tracked the iPad via GPS... Much to their amazement, the officers found 780 pounds of crystal meth scattered around the place, worth about $35 million.

*Yes, I just called the iPad an e-reader. My view of the world is very narrow.
**No, my e-reader is not actually an iPad, but the point still holds.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Are Indie Writers Deluded?

In the Atlantic, Alan Jacobs details his own underwhelming self-publishing experiment and concludes:
my experience with digital-only "direct publishing" has given me a renewed appreciation for what traditional publishing houses do for writers.
Fair enough. Gratitude is a good thing.

He also tries to deflate indie writers, a less noble and hardly difficult endeavor:
But one of the illusions most common to writers -- an illusion that may make the long slow slog of writing possible, for many people -- is that an enormous audience is out there waiting for the wisdom and delight that I alone can provide, and that the Publishing System is a giant obstacle to my reaching those people.
This is oft-heard, but I think it misunderstands the mindset of most independent writers, artists, filmmakers, musicians, etc. At least those I have known.
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