more on the Google settlement

More voices are joining counsel at William Morris with concerns about Google’s settlement with authors that would allow Google to profit from digital versions of millions of books it has scanned from libraries.  The Justice Department is involved too. If you have questions or want to opt out, go here.

Could you toss a 500 page manuscript?

Review of Richard Russo’s latest. Something to look forward to.

A day of Edgars

I’m not much for mysteries, but this post title made me laugh: The Edgar Winner Group: 2009 Edgar Awards

Decided the best thing to do for creativity today is to take the day off. I am irritated because I thought I had the full text of Edgar Sawtelle on my Kindle and it was only a sample. Unnoticed until they asked me if I want to buy the whole thing. No, Amazon, I’m feeling cranky and am switching to the The Time Traveler’s Wife. In paperback. Even your fancy whispernet will not lure me.
I may start a new blog about writing the current novel, which has a character named Edgar.

L.A. Festival of Books

I vote for football. I concede it was perfect weather for the Festival of Books. Not hot, nice breeze, a little on the cool side. But I hate crowds and it was crowded. The first panel was fine, mostly thanks to David WroblewskiThey each read for a couple of minutes from their books – he also read the best, but I imagine he’s also had the most practice. Here are a few of his nuggets: without an element of artifice, fiction doesn’t feel real; he likes the narrative tool of a good observer; the elementary structure of the novel is a braid. Plot is a tool for taking stories apart, not creating them – if you use it to create it’s like knitting with chainsaws (nice image). A novel = unnaturally long story. And from Joan Silber: plot is about how the writer thinks the world works. Bear in mind, this is a general public event, not one directed at writers.  

Wroblewski recommended So Long See you Tomorrow by William Maxwell. Joan Silber recommended Remembering Babylon by David Malouf.

The second panel was an interview and it was pretty dull. I won’t name names. I sat there wondering why I was there listening to some mediocre questions on writing instead of going home to work on the novel. So I’m home now after getting jostled by crowds, eating a mediocre $7 cheeseburger and paying $3.75 for a bottle of water because I forgot mine at home.  I couldn’t face two more panels, even if they were spectacular.

I guess it boils down to the fact that I get enough of writers talking about writing in grad school. Time to write.
p.s. The San Diego Chargers picked Larry English. Maybe this will finally be the year.

more books

Last Saturday, I went to a wonderful bbq with about a dozen writers and talk turned to books (I know, real shocker). Our post-grad “to read” pile is growing. Now I have even more to add. The Pulitzers were announced yesterday. Here’s the list and the winner for fiction is Olive Kittridge, a collection of short stories. Plague of Doves was the runner-up. 

Shoot, I just got around to last year’s winner

Have to admit, I’ve not been a big fan of short stories, but that is slowly changing. I still prefer the experience of getting lost in a novel.  As I wrote in a recent annotation on Johnston’s Corpus Christi, I find short stories demanding, requiring concentration. They are not a relaxing art form. I have found that once I started reading books to see what authors were doing, the process moved – logically – from unconscious influence to purposeful learning. I no longer had to worry about my writing sounding like someone else’s because I could look at the nuts and bolts of what they were up to and choose to use elements or not.

By the way, I want to start getting a commission on Kindle sales – just showed it off to the doctor who injected my sore shoulder (blessed relief) and he’s getting one for his wife. This is probably the sixth one I’ve sold in the last 10 days. Pony up, Amazon.


Had to rename one of my characters about 130 pages in and found it traumatic. I’d gotten used to thinking of him a certain way. I should backtrack and say that I take naming characters seriously. I look up names and their meaning, I look at family patterns in naming children, and so on. I think names affect the reader on a subconscious level. So, neurotic me, I took a week to come up with another satisfactory name. One small complication is that I had made the meaning of the name significant, in a minor way, and wanted to preserve that little scene.

Upcoming news: I’m starting another blog in partnership with a talented writer so stay tuned for details when we get that up and running. Should be fun if you love books as well as the nuts and bolts of narrative.

odds and ends

For you BSG fans out there, cupcakes!

I like it that there are whole blogs about bacon

Thanks to my mentor and friend, Gayle Brandeis, for mentioning my Amazon entry on her blog. She’s so sweet and generous, plus she asks the best questions that lead me to improve my writing.

If you want to live vicariously in France, check out ceci n’est pas une blog

Also, Rhonda Mitchell,one of my fellow mentees at Antioch is getting much deserved recognition for writing about her experience in this recession. Check out Recession Daily

Need some musical inspiration? A friend of mine, see_thru, DJs at – check it out.


Looks like I won’t be participating in next Friday’s reading after all. The venue isn’t quite right. GROWING CHOCOLATE deals with the death of child, cutting and other serious themes not suitable for family night at a Y! There will be other opportunities.

Brings up the question of when to say ‘yes’ to readings. Not all venues are suitable. You have to think about your target audience – who are your readers? Sometimes you have to turn things down.