January 24, 2008

Write To Done: Leo Babauta's Unmissable Articles About Writing

I'm wondering if anyone noticed that I took a voluntary break in writing WritersCrunch...I've been really busy with some projects that I'm starting off February 1st. These projects took me away from being online and have been more of brainstorming, research and writing offline. More gists later.

I took a peep today at my Reader and found that I've got lots to catch up with. My first look was at Zen Habits, where I discovered an interesting new blog Write To Done by Leo Babauta. The author of the ebook Zen To Done, created the new blog as a way to share some of what he has learned as a professional writer, as well as helping writers improve their craft and art of writing.

Write To Done is aimed at writers from professionals to people who want to be writers or enjoy writing, bloggers, aspiring novelists and poets to freelance writers. The blog will be covering many topics such as journalism, blog writing, freelance writing, fiction, non-fiction, getting a book deal, the business of writing, the habit of writing. And so on.

I found the post: How to Write First Thing in the Morning very practical for me. What about you? What did you find interesting in the new blog?

January 15, 2008

And The 2007 T.S. Eliot Prize Goes to...Sean O'Brien for The Drowned Book!

British poet, Sean O'Brien has claimed the 2007 T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry with The Drowned Book after winning the Forward prize for best collection an unprecedented third time following Ghost Train in 1995 and Downriver in 2001, making him the first author ever to take the UK's two top poetry awards in the same year.

The T. S. Eliot Prize is the biggest cash award in UK poetry, inaugurated in 1993 to celebrate the Poetry Book Society's 40th birthday and honor its founding poet and is awarded annually to the author of the best new single-author collection of poetry published in the UK or Ireland. View the 10 poets shortlisted for the award here.

O'Brien, who is professor of creative writing at Newcastle University, received a cheque for £15,000 at Monday night's ceremony, held at the Wallace Collection in Central London. The other shortlisted poets also received cheques of £1,000 each, in recognition of their work.

January 13, 2008

Would That Power Called 'Plagiarism' Prevail?

Plagiarism has been the power phrase of the past week with several accusations on copyright infringement, defamation and plagiarism. Last Monday, Missy Chase Lapine, the author of The Sneaky Chef, a cookbook whose recipes camouflage puréed vegetables and fruits in comfort food for children, sued Jessica and Jerry Seinfeld last Monday, charging copyright infringement and defamation.

It was all over in the news...Gothamist, AHN, Monster and Critics, eFluxMedia, ITN, DollyMix, Reuters, North Country Gazette, just to mention a few. Some have criticized Lapine saying that she just wants to get some attention. Could it be? The biggest lawsuit on plagiarism is probably Dan Brown's bestselling novel The Da Vinci Code accused of plagiarism in 2004 which many thought was a plan to increase sales of the non-fiction work The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, co-written by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln. Could that also be?

Another allegation came this week that Cassie Edwards, a popular romance novelist with more than 100 books to her name, inserted great amount of unattributed material into her work which has sparked up an ongoing controversy that has led Signet Books, one of her publishers, to announce last Friday that it was examining all of her work that it has published saying that "the situation deserves further review." Read more here and here.

The controversy began when smartbitchestrashybooks.com, a blog devoted to romance novels, posted excerpts from Ms. Edwards’s novels this week alongside passages from other sources to show the similarities, which the site’s authors (Candy Tan and Sarah Wendell) said they had discovered by Googling some of Ms. Edwards’s writing. Although, they feel she may not have infringed copyright law, they consider her actions unethical.

Nora Roberts, a big time romance novelist said that the controversy should force renewed attention to the issue of intellectual theft with ramifications well beyond the world of romance writers. On the other hand, Ms. Edwards told an Associated Press reporter earlier this week that she did not know she was supposed to credit her sources. “When you write historical romances, you’re not asked to do that,” she said.

So, is there any copyright law that exempts historical romances? If so, that means that bloggers too can practically lift off paragraphs, pictures, etc from other sites and claim that they don't know they should credit their sources.

Via (NY Times) Image: LGOS

January 10, 2008

Fiction Writers Now Mash And Make Money At StoryMash

Now, this really got my attention. Probably because I have a flare for fiction. A new social community called StoryMash, for collaboration, constructive criticism and a place to experiment and discover different writing styles is mashing up fiction readers and writers together.

StoryMash is a place where fiction folks start new stories, continue existing stories, or take a story in a different direction by adding a chapter to its middle! All the while earning money for every chapter they publish on StoryMash. If you are a reader, you can vote for your favorite chapters and choose how you want the story to continue. After reading a chapter you can select from among multiple followup chapters. And while reading a chapter if you have a great idea on what should happen next, you can register and submit a followup chapter!

The idea is similar to Helium where writers are paid from $20 to $200 for each article selected by their partner publishers. The difference is that with StoryMash, you pay yourself for each work you publish on StoryMash depending on the number of votes you get from your story.

Here is how it works:

If you're a fiction writer and want the world to know about your work, you will post your story to StoryMash.com. Then, other authors can add follow-up, or even middle chapters to existing chapters written by others. Branching chapters compete with each other based on the vote ranking of registered readers. Eventually, the best storylines will evolve into the most entertaining, and profitable storytelling possible.

The whole idea is a
a collaborative system of user generated content where StoryMash provides a fair contract for writers; writers keep their copyright, and grant StoryMash a non-exclusive license so that StoryMash can adapt and possibly resell combined works. Plus, all authors are paid over 50% of all revenue made by the content they publish.

There are also periodic writing contests, and this February, over $500 in prizes will be given away. So start posting on StoryMash by share your creative writing with the world, and earning some cool cash.

Have fun!

January 09, 2008

The Times Lists Greatest British Writers Since 1945

Erica Wagner of The Times recently wrote an article which introduced "The Times list of the Greatest British Writers Since 1945". The list was presented to stir up an argument into the new year.

But the list raises questions the criteria for considering the best postwar British writers, doesn't it? Because there was no scientific method for the analysis and then the results, certain factors were considered - sheer quality of writing, longevity, lasting impact, commercial success and wait a minute...nationality???

The list which includes novelists, poets, writers of nonfiction, etc comprises of names such as George Orwell, Ted Hughes, Doris Lessing (on the top 10), Ian Fleming, Ian McEwan, J.K. Rowling amongst others. It was a list of 50.

View the list of the 50 Greatest British Writers here at The Times. You might find your favorite British writer.

January 07, 2008

Library of Virginia Literary Awards

The Library of Virginia and the Library of Virginia Foundation is currently accepting nominations for the 2008 Library of Virginia Literary Awards for books published in the calendar year 2007. These awards honor outstanding Virginia authors and books about Virginia in the areas of fiction, nonfiction and poetry.

Here are the 2007 winners...

Deborah Eisenberg for Twilight of the Superheroes (Fiction)

Scott Reynolds Nelson for Steel Drivin’ Man: John Henry for The Untold Story of an American Legend (Non-fiction)

Elizabeth Leigh Palmer Hadaway for Fire Baton (Poetry)

Tom Wolfe received the lifetime achievement award.

Past winners include Donald McCaig, Eric Pankey, Suzanne Lebsock, Carrie Brown, Charles Wright, Richard Bausch, Ruth Stone, Melvin Patrick Ely, and Edward P. Jones. View a complete list of past Literary Awards finalists and winners here. The winners in each category received a $3,000 prize and a handsome engraved crystal book.

The 2008 finalists will be honored and the winners announced at the 11th Annual Library of Virginia Awards Celebration Honoring Virginia Authors and Friends, to be held on Saturday, October 18, 2008.

To nominate a book, please visit the Library of Virginia.

January 03, 2008

Catherine O'Flynn Wins 2007 Costa First Novel Award

As an aspiring novelist, I have been asked a couple of times what my greatest challenge is in my career as a writer (currently working on a fiction thriller about an immigrant...). My answer has always been: getting a publisher! You probably consider that too as a major challenge and perhaps get discouraged and disheartened.

But negative emotions like that could dash one's dream to become an author, especially when several publishing agents have rejected your work. Some who are fortunate get accepted after writing to just a few agents. Good for them.

For one thing, most publishers are looking for what would sell big time. After all, that's why they are in business. So if that piece of work that you have labored for gets rejected once, twice, three times...maybe more, should you quit?

Do you really want to quit? Ok. Before you decide, read about the winner of the 2007 Costa first novel award, Catherine O'Flynn who got published after being rejected by 14 separate literary agents.

O'Flynn's novel, What Was Lost, was named winner of the 2007 Costa first novel award after being longlisted for the Booker and the Orange prizes, and shortlisted for the Guardian's first book award.

(See the winner of the 2007 Booker prize and the winner of the 2007 Orange prize).

Interestingly, the 2007 Guardian's first book award was won by Ethiopian-American Dinaw Mengestu with his novel, Children of the Revolution, that tackles fraught questions of identity, dislocation and loneliness through the life of an Ethiopian émigré in the US.

Hopefully, these few examples could motivate you to fulfill your desire to become an author and possibly a best-selling author.

Tom Wolfe Drops Long-term Deal With Farrar, Straus & Giroux

As we see in the entertainment industry where artists could end a music deal with their record companies, so we see today in the world of writers and publishing houses.

According to the New York Times, Tom Wolfe, the author of social genre novels such as “The Bonfire of the Vanities” and “A Man in Full,” has severed his 42-year publishing relationship with Farrar, Straus & Giroux and has agreed to sell the rights to Little, Brown & Company to publish his next novel, “Back to Blood”.

Yeah, that's right. 42.

This news has sparked a lot of interest amongst publishing houses and their executives who viewed Mr. Wolfe and Farrar, Straus & Giroux's long-term relationship as "loyal". So that brings the question...who was unfaithful?

Reports reveal that a possible reason for the split could be as a result of the disappointment that Wolfe's last novel “I Am Charlotte Simmons,” published in 2004 which did not sell nearly as much as Mr. Wolfe's previous novels. The book about a sheltered freshman at a big university who throws herself into a life of frat parties and casual sex, received mixed reviews.

Interestingly, established writers who have spent many years with one publisher and then have a disappointing book often end up moving to a new publisher because the advances they demand become too high for the existing publisher. Even Stephen King famously left his longtime publisher, Viking, for Scribner when Viking balked at the $18 million advance he wanted for the novel, “Bag of Bones.”

The Wolfe/Farrar, Straus & Giroux split is so real that the link to the about page of FSG from tomwolfe.com cannot be found.


January 01, 2008

Novels Of The Month: January 2008

As novel readers usher in the new year, it would be nice to know what books to anticipate reading and I'm glad to give you a scoop on WritersCrunch. Starting from January, you can find new novels as well as updates on them. Perhaps your favorite novel might just be eyeing the bestseller lists. So why not keep an eye here:)

This year begins with...

Homecoming by Bernhard Schlink, the international bestseller of The Reader (Der Vorleser in German). Homecoming is the story of one man's odyssey and another man's pursuit. As a child, his narrator becomes obsessed with an incomplete manuscript about a German POW; as an adult, he goes in search of the missing ending - and his own father, also apparently killed in the war. It's a quest for identity, forgiveness and love.

In The Appeal, John Grisham's new legal thriller after The Broker, a powerful, timely, and shocking story of political and legal intrigue is told by the master himself. A story that will leave readers unable to think about the U.S. electoral process or judicial system in quite the same way ever again.

Russell Banks's new novel, The Reserve, is set in the Adirondack Mountains in 1936; a character loosely based on the artist Rockwell Kent is beguiled by a beautiful but mentally unstable heiress. Trust Banks!

Crusaders by Richard T Kelly is an impressive debut. Set in 1996, it sees a young clergyman struggling to set up a church in a deprived part of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Kelly reflects in energetic, muscular prose on the history of the Labor movement and foreshadows the huge social change to come.

In The Flowers, Dagoberto Gilb, who won the PEN/Hemingway award for The Magic of Blood, writes of a Mexican-American boy navigating the hazards of race, class, and poverty.

Sue Miller's The Senator's Wife is about the private lives of two women with a mesmerizing portrait of two marriages exposed in all their shame and imperfection, and in their obdurate, unyielding love. The author of the iconic The Good Mother and the best-selling While I Was Gone brings her marvelous gifts to a powerful story of two unconventional women who unexpectedly change each other’s lives.

In What I Was, the first adult novel by Meg Rosoff, the elderly first-person narrator recalls an intense boyhood relationship.

If you know of any interesting novel to look out for this January, please feel free to leave them in the comments section.

Happy Reading!

WriteCrunchers...Bienvenue au 2008!

Well, now that every part of the world has welcomed 2008...Australia, Japan, France, South Africa, United Kingdom, United States of America, Canada...it gives me great pleasure to be writing my first post of the year!

This blog started off on October 27, 2007 and posted 60 posts in the last year. This year, it's going to get better. I hope to keep improving on the content of WritersCrunch and would welcome your suggestions, comments and feedback.

Please feel free to email me your suggestions, questions, etc Also, if you are interested in having me blog about you or your site or blog, you can simply send me an email.


Photo Credits: (Sean Kilpatric / THE CANADIAN PRESS)