Tuesday, January 28, 2014


From: i-club.com

“At my MFA, most of us are very young–rare is the person who is over 30–and most of us didn’t have careers before coming here. And almost all of us went to an elite college: Stanford and Yale are overrepresented; most others either went to a top 10 public university or top 10 liberal arts college. Almost all of us have degrees in English.
     Furthermore, despite our actual class background, everyone I’ve met in the creative writing world has had that upper-class polish. It’s something I noticed at Stanford: no matter your class, race, or country, within a few semesters we all started sounding the same and acting the same and operating according to the same values and principles. Top colleges whitewash you by teaching you how to ape the mannerisms of the managerial (note, I didn’t say ruling) class—it’s pretty much the main thing you’re buying with your $50k a year.
     Additionally, the people in the creative writing world tend to be very good-looking (also a class marker!).
     Whereas if you meet science fiction writers who are at the same level of their careers as us, there’s something very different about them. They always have jobs: often career-track jobs. Their degrees are generally not in English. They tend to be older. Oftentimes, they didn’t pursue writing seriously when they were in college. They’re not as polished and don’t seem to be from as affluent of a background. […]
     A major university—the recipient of tons of federal research dollars—is paying very privileged people (including me) tens of thousands of dollars to do work that is of little value (since we’re not yet that good) to mankind or society. And beyond that, there’s a whole system of grants, fellowships, professorships, etc, that only go to people who exist within the creative writing industry (i.e. not science fiction writers).
     Obviously, those things are very hard to get. I will probably never get any of them. But that’s not the point. The point is that the people who DO get them tend to be people like me: very privileged, very upper-class people. Which is absurd. And it seems like exactly the wrong way to design a system that’s meant to support art which isn’t commercially successful.
     Because, beyond even the genre/literary distinction, the creative writing industry systematically shuts out would-be literary writers who are from less-wealthy backgrounds.”
— R. H. Kanakia, Blotter Paper
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"Even if it sounds a bit cheesy, pursue your dreams.”

“Life is very full for 18-year-old Beth Reeks. Like every first-year university student she is juggling studies, a hectic social life and the challenge of living away from home for the first time.
     But unlike her peers at Exeter University, Reeks is also having to find time to finish off her third novel – and is now coping with the responsibility of being billed as one of the world's most important young role models.
     Reeks – who writes romantic fiction for young adults under the pen-name Beth Reekles – was earlier this month named by Time magazine on a list of the 16 most influential teenagers in the world alongside entertainment stars such as Lorde and Justin Bieber, sporting stars including swimmer Missy Franklin and Barack Obama's daughter Malia. […]
     For those yet to catch up with Reeks's work, she began writing love stories about teens partly because she was fed up with so many books aimed at young people being about vampires, werewolves and wizards (though she grew up on Harry Potter herself and cites JK Rowling as one of her role models).
     She self-published her first novel, The Kissing Booth, a rollicking romance set in California, on Wattpad, the story-sharing website, and watched amazed as her tale attracted 19 million readers across the globe.”
— Steven Morris, The Guardian
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Monday, January 27, 2014

"be the first beatnik on the block"

From: Retronaut
I'd love to get my hands on those "six authentic Beatnik poems." And what are "Beatnik Instructions"?


From: Las parabras del silencio
“[The Voynich] manuscript, now housed at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University, has elicited enormous interest, resulting in numerous books and Internet sites with no conclusive resolution on the manuscript's origin. Even the US National Security Agency has taken an interest in its cryptic contents, and doctoral theses have been written on attempts to decipher the language of the Voynich Manuscript.
     HerbalGram's feature article by Arthur O. Tucker, PhD, and Rexford H. Talbert, titled ‘A Preliminary Analysis of the Botany, Zoology, and Mineralogy of the Voynich Manuscript,’ is based on a unique, investigative approach to understanding the strange manuscript. Past researchers have attempted to prove that the manuscript was a product of Europe, mainly because it was discovered in Italy, but also because they believed a European language to be hidden in the writing system of the text. Other theorists proposed Asian origins based on the premise that cloaked Chinese characters existed within syllabary of the Voynich Manuscript. As with many of humankind's most enduring mysteries, aliens have been implicated as well.
     Dr. Tucker — botanist, emeritus professor, and co-director of the Claude E. Phillips Herbariumat Delaware State University — and Mr. Talbert, a retired information technologist formerly employed by the US Department of Defense and NASA, decided to look first at the botanical illustrations in the Voynich Manuscript and compare them to the world's geographic plant distribution at the time of the manuscript's first recorded appearance (ca. 1576-1612).
     The similarities between a plant illustrated in the Voynich Manuscript and the soap plant depicted in the 1552 Codex Cruz-Badianus of Mexico — considered the first medical text written in the New World — propelled the authors down a path leading to the identification of 37 plants, 6 animals, and 1 mineral in the manuscript from the Americas — specifically, from post-Conquest Nueva España (New Spain) and the surrounding regions.”
Digital Journal
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“… we're all writers now.”

“It's an arresting way of doing the arithmetic that depends on a definition of an ‘author’ harking back to the days of the gentleman hobbyist. For [Hugh] Howey, who sold hundreds of thousands of copies of his dystopian novel Wool himself on Amazon before landing a publisher, the self-publishing revolution has allowed 'hundreds of thousands of voracious readers with a dream of writing a novel' to write books 'out of love and passion, just like a kid goes out and dribbles a basketball for hours every day or kicks a soccer ball against a garage wall.'
     But over the past few decades we wouldn't have called these people 'writers' any more than we would call that kid in the back yard a footballer. If all it takes to be a writer is to stick your work online then we're all writers now.
     In the old days things were much clearer. All you had to do to call yourself a writer was publish a book, which meant you needed someone else to publish it – and someone else to buy it. […]”
— Amanda Hocking, The Guardian (Books Blog)
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Friday, January 24, 2014

piggyback book

“Here’s something special. You may remember a blog I posted about dos-à-dos (or 'back-to-back') books. These are very special objects consisting of usually two books, which were bound together at their, well, backs. When you were done with the one book, you would flip the object and read the other. The dos-à-dos book you see here is even more special. Not only is it a rather old one (it was bound in the late 16th century), but it contains not two but six books, all neatly hidden inside a single binding[…]”
Erik Kwakkel
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to buy or not to buy

“[…] passing up a chance to buy a book can lead to intense pangs of regret later on.
     Just ask Alexander McCall Smith, the Scottish author known around the world for his bestselling mystery series The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency.
     Smith has a heightened profile these days, thanks to the recent release of the latest installment in his Ladies franchise, The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon. Just published by Pantheon in a hardcover, the book promises to extend Smith’s popularity among whodunit lovers across the globe.
     But in addition to being an accomplished writer, Smith is, not surprisingly, a voracious reader, too. He recounts some of his bibliophilic adventures in a recent nonfiction title, What W.H. Auden Can Do for You.
     Smith’s Auden book is ostensibly a celebration of the mystery writer’s favorite poet, but Smith’s narrative also includes a few asides about his book-buying adventures during his frequent travels. Among other anecdotes, he offers a cautionary tale about the complications of not buying a book that catches your eye.”
— Danny Heitman, The Christian Science Monitor
Read more…

Buy (or don't buy) all of Alexander McCall Smith's books here...

rings true

“Jerome Rothenberg changed the course of poetics with the opening statement to his landmark Technicians of the Sacred: A Range of Poetries From Africa, America, Asia, Europe & Oceania: 'Primitive means complex.'
     The 1968 anthology was the result of his search for a better understanding of poetry. 'There was a sense I had that what we knew about poetry was really very limited,' the San Diego poet said by phone. 'Poetry exists everywhere, and takes many different forms, and I began - just for my own pleasure and edification - to look into that (while) in the process also of writing poetry, so it was feeding my own work. And it was in conversation with many other poets.
     'In the late 1960s I had been looking into all poetry from around the world, particularly in some non-state cultures, what were then being called 'primitive cultures,' and found a very rich body - many different bodies of poetry there. […]'
     Technicians of the Sacred effectively launched ethnopoetics, a field that ties poetry to anthropology by recording oral poetry and narrative performance onto the page in a way that reveals the poetry at its source. In practice, ethnopoetics achieves a better understanding of the fundamental nature of poetry.
     Assembling that book transformed Rothenberg's own poetics, too: He became immersed in performance poetry, embracing multiculturalism by incorporating rituals from other cultures into his writing.
     'I began to look at poetry as international in scope,' he said. 'There's a lot of interchange with Europe, with Asia, certainly with Latin America.'
     In the preface to Eye of Witness: A Jerome Rothenberg Reader, which was published in September, he expounds on this: 'My pursuit of a kind of transcultural or global poetics: a poetry rooted in its place but capable of crossing borders and languages to become a virtual omnipoetics.'"
— Evan Karp, SFGate Read more…

Thursday, January 23, 2014

“among other things”

“The most impressive thing about meeting Philip Pullman is how unimposing he is. Renowned as a master of mythologies, casting a cultural shadow that stretches from Hollywood films to intellectual debates about atheism and faith, you’d expect his Oxfordshire house to be some kind of remote, brooding mansion. Instead, I ring on the door of a roomy but low-key suburban household, feet away from the main road in a commuter-belt village. Tall, diffident, if a little wary at first, Pullman shows me to the comfiest sofa by the fire, and makes a pot of his trademark tea (three spoons of Assam to one of Lapsang Souchong). Rather than a magus or self-absorbed thinker, the author of the world-famous fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials reminds me more of a circumspect but kindly English teacher — which, of course, he was for many years.
     Any residual wariness falls away as Pullman takes me out to his small woodworking shed. He apologises that it is a bit of a mess, but it looks like a cherished — almost fairytale — workshop to me, with its racks of shiny chisels and rounded mallets. When we return to the fire, Pullman tells me that he made the table-cum-stool in front of it himself, his first bit of upholstering. More impressive still is the rocking horse in the centre of his study, surrounded by stacks of books. The wood and gesso creation took him years to make, but it’s now ready for Christmas and the arrival of his grandchildren. Almost immediately, he’s remembering his own childhood, with Christmases at his grandfather’s rectory in Norfolk, and talking about the early death of his father, a Spitfire pilot. […]
     ‘Among other things’ would be a great motto for Pullman’s ambivalence (or should that be multivalence?) about matters of belief, fiction and science. He is of the old school of secularism which holds that faith should be kept out of the public sphere, but still refuses the kind of inquisition that seeks to root out mistaken beliefs: ‘What you feel and believe are private to you and belong to nobody else,’ he counters. ‘What you do in the public sphere is what’s important.’”
— Peter Jukes, aeon
Read more…

Read another post about Philip Pullman here...

And buy all of his books here...

all lit ain’t english

“A session on the global novel in Jaipur [Jaipur Literature Festival] on Saturday saw the Chinese/British writer [Xiaolu] Guo, one of Granta's best of young British novelists who has also been shortlisted for the Orange prize, attack the way 'our reading habit has totally been transformed by the mainstream.'
     ‘Our reading habit has been stolen and changed’ said Guo. ‘For example I think Asian literature is much less narrative … but our reading habit is more Anglo-Saxon, more American … Nowadays all this narrative [literature is] very similar, it's so realism, so story-telling driven … so all the poetry, all the alternative things, have been pushed away by mainstream society.’
     'Love your work, Jonathan,’ she told Franzen, ‘but in a way you are smeared by English American literature … I think certain American literature is overrated, massively overrated, and I really hate to read them,’ she said.
     The Pulitzer-winning Indian/American Jhumpa Lahiri also laid into America's literary culture, saying that it was 'shameful the lack of translation, the lack of energy put into translation in the American market'. 'It is embarrassing, to me, and I think just getting out of America for a little while makes you much more conscious of that,' said Lahiri, who currently lives in Italy and has not read anything in English for the last two years.
     ‘I was looking at [an Italian paper's] 10 best books of the year, and they chose seven books written in English. This was astonishing to me,’ she said. ‘I can't imagine the New York Times ever choosing seven books written in a language other than English as their choices.’”
— Alison Flood, The Guardian
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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Announcing the 2014 EWF Short Story Contest

We're back!
     After taking a year off, the 10th EWF writing contest returns to welcome local writers of any age or experience to win prizes for their unpublished short stories exploring the theme Home.
     Writers in Wellington, Waterloo, Dufferin, Grey-Bruce, Halton and Hamilton-Wentworth counties/regions are encouraged to submit their short stories to the new and revamped 2014 EWF Short Story Contest, a feature of the 20th annual Elora Writers’ Festival taking place on Sunday, May 25 in Aboyne Hall at the Wellington County Museum and Archives.

The winners will be announced here, on the Festival blogsite at noon on Saturday, May 24, 2014. Prizes will be presented to any winners attending the Elora Writers’ Festival on Sunday, May 25, 2014.  Attendance at the Elora Writers’ Festival is not required in order to win a prize.

Contest judges include Kitchener-Waterloo writers Sharon Blomfield, whose travel articles have appeared in many Canadian and international publications, and Heather Wright, author of Writing Fiction: A Hands-On Guide for Teens. Also among the judges are Guelph’s Kira Vermond, whose book for young readers, The Secret Life of Money was nominated for the OLA’s Red Maple award; short story author Lisa McLean; playwright and author Heather Debling; Wellington Advertiser reporter and columnist Kelly Waterhouse; and Fergus’s Lisa Dalrymple, author of the children’s picture book Skink on the Brink.

Why this year’s local focus? Past EWF writing contests attracted submissions from writers across North America and around the world, but this year – the Festival’s 20th Anniversary – the focus is on celebrating the community that has faithfully shared in the annual afternoon of readings by such diverse Canadian literary stars as Nino Ricci, Louise Penny, Terry Fallis, Thomas King, Priscilla Uppal, Jean Little – and so many more. This year, The Elora Writers’ Festival welcomes readers and writers Home.

Contest Details
Eligibility: Residents of Wellington, Waterloo, Dufferin and Hamilton-Wentworth counties
Deadline:  Entries must be postmarked by Friday, April 4, 2014  Thursday, April 17.

Categories:  Adult (20+) 2000 words; Teen (14-19) 2000 words; Youth (13 and under) 1000 words.
Theme: Home (whatever that means to each individual writer…)

How to Enter:  Mail your story – typed, double-spaced (double-sided is acceptable) – to EWF Short Story Contest, c/o Elora Arts Council, PO Box 3084, Elora ON N0B 1S0. Include a title page with name, contact information including email, and title of submission. To ensure blind judging, the author’s name should not appear anywhere on the story manuscript. Writers of shortlisted stories will be asked to send an electronic copy of their story for final judging.

Entry Fee:  Please note that submissions to the Adult category (20 and older) must include a $15 entry fee.
Prizes:  Cash prizes will be awarded for first, second and third place in each category. 
Adult: $200, $150, $100
Teen: $200, $150, $100
Youth: $150, $100, $50
Contact:  For more information, contact Jean Mills, the Contest Chair, at EWFwritingcontest@gmail.com


The deadline has been extended. Go here for details!!http://elorawritersfestival.blogspot.ca/2014/04/wake-up-ewf-short-story-contest.html

Monday, January 20, 2014


From: TeleRead

“… sadomasochistic suffering and independent reading”

“… I haven’t yet watched Lifetime’s new adaptation of the V. C. Andrews novel Flowers in the Attic, that gothic literary sensation of my youth, with its notorious, scary cut-out paperback cover and brother-sister incest plot. But I did re-read the book recently, because a friend of mine was throwing a Flowers in the Attic-themed fundraising event. (I have strange friends.) I was stunned to discover one theme I had forgotten: this isn’t really a book about incest after all, or even bad moms. It’s the written analogue of an after-school special about the dangers of reading…
     Once the kids are trapped up there, all they do is read. Viewed from one perspective, it’s a tragic story of a years-long experiment with homeschooling gone horribly awry.”
— Emily Nussbaum, The New Yorker
Read more…

Buy all of V. C. Andrews' books here...


“Many people don't realize that aside from being one of the most evil people in history, Adolf Hitler was also one of the richest authors of all time. The first royalties from Hitler's bestselling book, Mein Kampf, funded the early Nazi party's rise to power and helped Hitler secure his future power with bribes and gifts given to prominent German political figures. Mein Kampf would go on to sell over 10 million copies worldwide. The royalties gave Hitler a vast personal fortune which he used to fund a lavish lifestyle that included a fleet of Mercedes and several luxurious mansions across his empire.
   Furthermore, Hitler made millions licensing his image to his own government for the use on things like stamps and political posters. It should be noted that in addition to his personal wealth, Hitler and the Nazis also had access to vast amounts of stolen property, precious metals, and priceless works of art but for this article we are going to focus on how much Hitler made personally, from legal endeavors, during his lifetime.
     And finally who is cashing his royalty checks today?”
— Brian Warner, CelebrityNetWorth
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Friday, January 17, 2014

"How to pick up trashy women..."

From: Retrogasm
Get one of those puffy, super hero masks with stains and stuff all over it. It's a real babe magnet...

"the 'messy' bits"

“As MIT’s first professor with a joint appointment in science and the humanities, Alan Lightman sometimes found himself teaching physics in the morning and then walking across a courtyard to lead a fiction writing class in the afternoon. He’d go from speaking to students about 'a world of pure logic, pure reason, pure cause and effect' to coaching them on how best to evoke 'the messy nature of human affairs.' Lightman, a physicist turned novelist (Einstein’s Dreams was a bestseller and The Diagnosis was a finalist for the National Book Award), is like a one-man bridge between what C.P. Snow, in 1959, famously described as 'the two cultures' of the sciences and the humanities, realms of knowledge whose growing estrangement Snow deplored.
     In his new collection of essays, The Accidental Universe: The World You Thought You Knew, Lightman explores the way recent (and not-so-recent) discoveries and theories in physics and cosmology affect the sort of questions human beings ask in fiction: questions about the meaning of life, the nature of morality, the importance of love. These are obviously puzzles that concern many physicists as well as novelists. But even those scientists who excel at penning lucid popular explications of their work are rarely as gifted at articulating the 'messy' bits, such as the contradictory human desires for order and transgression, or our delusory longing for permanence. Some of what Lightman writes about in The Accidental Universe could be called philosophical or metaphysical and some of it verges on the poetic, but whatever the subject, he writes with a limpid serenity and frankness that feels as fresh and as clarifying as a spring rain.”
— Laura Miller, Salon
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chop shop

“…Book Contour, a six-foot mountainous horizon of shredded paperbacks.”
by artist Leah Frankel (from: CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW)

“Slicebooks, a web service publishers use to create new custom content by slicing and remixing ebooks, has just launched the new Slicebooks Store in private beta. The Slicebooks Store features ebooks 'whole or by the slice' and offers the world’s first eBook Remixer. For the first time, teachers, trainers, students, travelers or any ebook customer can mix and match content from various books and instantly create their own custom ebook.
     'No other ebook store in the world offers content in this way,' said Jill Tomich, Slicebooks CEO. 'Over 200 publishers have signed up for Slicebooks publishing services. We designed the Slicebooks Store both to give publishers a marketplace for their sliced and remixed content, and to give their customers a way to purchase it and create their own remixes…'”
Read more…

Thursday, January 16, 2014

monster mush

“[…] there’s a growing demand for mythical creature porn in ebook format. Plots invariably center on women seduced by (or forced to have sex with) leprechauns, gargoyles, minotaurs, aliens, or any type of man-beast hybrid. The Week gave special mention to dinosaur erotica in its 'Unexpected Trends of 2013' list, calling it 'the strangest literary phenomenon of the year, and possibly ever.' But the publication underestimated just how niche this stuff gets. For example, a search for the Bigfoot series on Amazon yields related titles like Ravaged by the Hydra, Mounted by the Gryphon, Fertilized in Space, and—my personal favorite—Frankenstein’s Bitch.
From: Retrogasm

 But really, how strange is this so-called ‘literary phenomenon?’ Take Bram Stoker’s Dracula: through observing the Count’s gradual seduction of Lucy Westenra (and her resulting metamorphosis), we come to see that she desired him from the beginning. The lines are slightly blurrier in the original King Kong, but bold enough for critics to extrapolate a sexual subtext, so that an ape holding a blonde woman hostage atop the Empire State Building in Manhattan is an ape holding a blonde woman atop a giant phallus in Manhattan. The difference between the woman-falls-for-demon-beast storyline in fiction then and now is a matter of the implicit versus the explicit.”
— Lizzie Crocker, The Daily Beast
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penned in

From: fordogtrainers

“Following international discussion of online spying and mass surveillance, The Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC) recently polled its members about the realities of spying and surveillance among Canada’s writers. A simple, five question survey revealed that while only a very small minority of Canada’s authors feel they have already felt an impact on their work from government surveillance and/or interference, most Canadian authors feel there will be an inevitable impact on writing and publishing in the not too distant future.
     Only 5% of respondents declared they have been spied upon in their work as a writer, 7% declared they felt some level of harassment related to their work, while fully 60% of respondents felt mass surveillance would affect their work or the work of other writers in the future. Writers who believe they are being surveilled may feel pressure to self-censor their correspondence or the subjects they choose to write about in order not to have their work red flagged.”
The Writers’ Union of Canada
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