Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday

What I'm Reading: Graceling by Kristin Cashore and Many Stones by Carolyn Comen

What I'm Working On: I like distinct landmarks for "starting things". I'm getting new direction on my writing, and hitting it hard on May 1st.

Waiting On: The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro, Chuck Hogan

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Pub. Date: June 02, 2009

A heart-stopping thriller-the first in a trilogy-about an invasion of vampires by one of Hollywood's most popular and imaginative storytellers, the creator of the Oscar-winning Pan's Labyrinth.

A Boeing 777 lands at JFK after a flight from Berlin and is on its way to the gate-when it suddenly goes dark. Just stops dead. The control tower loses contact with the pilot and all electrical activity shuts down. No movement or communication from inside. Nada. An emergency crew gathers, everyone watching the silent plane now bathed in floodlights. Then a sliver of black quietly appears on the fuselage. It's a door opening from within.

Dr. Eph Goodweather, head of the CDC's New York team, enters and finds a cabin looking like a winged graveyard where everyone appears to be dead. As he begins to remove bodies for transport to the morgue, four victims are discovered miraculously alive-and relatively unscathed apart from complaints of disorientation and a strange soreness.
But this is just the beginning

At the same time, Eldrich Palmer, director of the global Stoneheart Group, monitors the JFK scene on TV from his sickbed in Virginia. Pleased with what he sees, he sends for a helicopter for immediate transport to a Manhattan penthouse. In Queens, Eph's ex-wife Kelley and their 11-year-old son ready themselves with the rest of the Eastern United States for the first total lunar eclipse in more than four hundred years. In a pawn shop in Spanish Harlem, a former professor and survivor of the Nazi concentration camps named Abraham Setrakian takes it all in. He knows that his time has come, that a war is about to begin, and that the Master is Here.

So begins anescalating battle of epic proportions as the vampiric virus that has infected the four survivors begins to ravage the city. Eph-guided by Setrakian, and joined by Vassily, a exterminator, Nora, Eph's CDC colleague, and Gus, a Harlem gangbanger-fights his way through the next horrifying days, determined to save his wife and son before the Master succeeds in his unholy mission.

I haven't read a vampire novel like this in a long time -- if ever. It seems a refreshing take on an over-written theme. WooHoo!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Monday Publishing News

What I'm Reading: The Darkest Night by Gena Showalter and Graceling by Kristin Cashore

What I'm Working On: Reading the draft so far and deciding what to do with it now.

Barnes & Noble Launches Audiobook Store
By Jim Milliot -- Publishers Weekly, 4/27/2009 7:35:00 AM

Barnes & Noble has taken another step in deepening its role in the digital marketplace, launching its Audiobook MP3 Store on Barnes & The store will feature spokenword audiobook MP3s available for download and transfer to iPods, iPhones, MP3 players and other portable devices. The site is launching with more than 10,000 titles across all genres, priced between $10 and $20 per download.

"As the use of MP3 players, iPods, iPhones and other digital devices continues to increase, it is important for Barnes & Noble to continue to expand our audio selections," said Tom Burke, executive v-p, E-Commerce Barnes & Noble. Overdrive is managing the distribution of titles through the site. Later this year, B&N is expected to launch an e-bookstore, following its acquisition earlier this year of Fictionwise.

My opinion: I looked around the MP3 store at B&N a bit this weekend. I'm a B&N member at $25 per year -- money well spent since I have a book addiction. I found out about the MP3 store this weekend when I got my 50% off an MP3 coupon from B&N. (Great promo.) I spent some time comparing the site to (HUGE AUDIBLE FAN here!). My take: Not bad. I'll probably use the coupon tonight to buy Little Brother by Corey Doctorow since it's not available at Audible. I'll let you know what I think.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday

What I'm Reading: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

What I'm Working On: Whew, last day of book fair.

Waiting On: FUNNY HOW THINGS CHANGE by Melissa Wyatt

Farrar, Straus & Giroux; 27 Apr 2009


Remy Walker has it all: he found the love of his life at home in crumbling little Dwyer, West Virginia, deep in his beloved Appalachian Mountains where his family settled more than one hundred and sixty years ago. But at seventeen, you’re not supposed to already be where you want to be, right? You’ve got a whole world to make your way through, and you start by leaving your dead-end town. Like his girlfriend, Lisa. Lisa’s going away to college. If Remy goes with her, it would be the start of everything they ever dreamed of. So when a fascinating young artist from out of state shows Remy his home through new eyes, why is he suddenly questioning his future?

The author vividly depicts a rich and beautiful place in this powerful novel about a young man who, over the course of a summer, learns how much he has to give up for a girl, and how much he needs to give up for a mountain.


I think life always throws you curves. When you think you know what you want, something happens to confuse you. I like stories about figuring out your path.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Monday Book and Publishing News

What I’m Reading: The Pagan Stone by Nora Roberts and Graceling by Kristin Cashore

What I’m Working On: The annual summer reading book club book fair!!! It’s this week at the bill paying job.

The Pulitzer Prize will be announced today. I love book awards of all kinds. There is no long or short list for the Pulitzer as there is for so many other book awards. However, there is alot of speculating.

Check out the following article before 3 pm eastern to see who the speculative favorites are:

Pulitzer Prognosticating by Omnivoracious (Click here to read the entire blog at its original site.)

Pulitzer Prognosticating
by Tom on April 17, 2009

The Pulitzer Prizes are announced on Monday at 3 pm Eastern time (noon our time)--as always, there are no shortlists or nominees given in advance, but despite that, the Fiction prize has actually become relatively easy to predict in recent years. It wasn't always the case, but in the past dozen years or so the Pulitzer, as the last major US award of the year, has often gone to what by then had become the consensus best book of the year. There have been a few surprises (Martin Dressler, Interpreter of Maladies), but for the most part the winners have been books like Kavalier & Clay, Middlesex, Gilead, and The Road, which, when the prize was announced, just made you say, "Yup, sounds right."

Having said that, I'm not sure what the consensus pick for '08 is (maybe when the Pulitzer makes their choice it'll be clear in retrospect, just as their pick of Oscar Wao over Tree of Smoke made it the novel of the year last year). The folks over at (the Pulitzer Prize First Edition Guide) have gone all Nate Silver over this and done a regression analysis based on previous Pulitzer winners and this year's previous award winners, newspaper best of the year lists, author track records, etc. (And make sure you scroll down to the comments section, for some thorough discussion of the contenders and their methods.) Their top 15 contenders:

Home by Marilynne Robinson
The Widows of Eastwick by John Updike
Indignation by Philip Roth
The Lazarus Project by Aleksandar Hemon
Fine Just the Way It Is by Annie Proulx
The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich
A Mercy by Toni Morrison
Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
Dangerous Laughter by Steven Millhauser
Telex from Cuba by Rachel Kushner
Netherland by Joseph O'Neill
My Sister, My Love by Joyce Carol Oates
Lush Life by Richard Price
Our Story Begins by Tobias Wolff

Clearly, their model heavily weights late-career titans like Updike, Roth, and Oates (maybe thanks to some winners like The Old Man and the Sea, A Fable, and The Reivers in the award's earlier history), but I don't think any of those are contenders (much as I liked Indignation). And Robinson, Proulx, Lahiri, and Millhauser appear to be getting credit for being previous Pulitzer winners, while it looks to me like the Pulitzer (unlike, say, the PEN/Faulkner) has avoided multiple winners in recent years.

The ones on that list that best fit my "consensus" definition would be The Lazarus Project, Home, and Lush Life (all nominees for either or both of the NBA and the NBCC) and PEN/Faulkner winner and most-discussed-novel-of-the-year-until-2666, Netherland. And perhaps, after its Tournament of Books win, A Mercy. But maybe this will be the year for a dark-horse candidate like Olive Kitteridge. Tobias Wolff would also be a nice choice--I've been surprised that his collection, by one of our great masters of the short story, hasn't gotten much award or end-of-year attention (even from us), and it would fit in with earlier Pulitzer collected-stories picks like John Cheever, Jean Stafford, and Katherine Anne Porter. Or perhaps a lateish-career win for the prolific Erdrich.

Unlike last year, with Oscar, I don't really have a horse in this race--my favorite novels of '08 were British (A Northern Clemency and Pravda) or Spanish/Mexican/Chilean (2666). But here are my own top contenders, in order:

A Mercy
Lush Life
The Lazarus Project
Our Story Begins
Olive Kitteridge
Serena by Ron Rash
The Plague of Doves

And for the other book Pulitzers? They have a more idiosyncratic history (especially the History picks), but I'll guess The Forever War (heavy favorite for General Nonfiction), White Heat (Biography/Memoir), This Republic of Suffering (History), and Sleeping It Off in Rapid City (Poetry). And, based on their odd history of giving Special Citations to deceased jazz composers (Gershwin, Ellington, Monk, and Coltrane--all deserving but quite dead), I half-expect an award for Miles Davis this year too. We'll see on Monday. --Tom

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Waiting On Wednesday

What I'm Reading: Graceling by Kristin Cashore and The Pagan Stone by Nora Roberts

What I'm Working On: After a severe headache Monday, I'm hoping to write a bit extra today to make up for it. Plus, I'd like to make time after that to read some pages for a friend, and then there's that bill paying project.

Waiting on Wednesday

What: FIRETHORN by Sarah Micklem

From Random House on April 29, 2009

Synopsis: Introducing a mesmerizing debut in the rich tradition of Marion Zimmer Bradley and the powerful narratives of Jacqueline Carey—a passionate tale of love and war in which the gods grant a common girl uncommon gifts…

Before she was Firethorn, she was Luck, named for her red hair and favored by the goddess of Chance. A lowborn orphan, Luck is destined to a life of servitude. But when her mistress dies, Luck flees to the forest, where she discovers the sacred firethorn tree, whose berries bring her fevered dreams, a new name…and strange gifts. When she emerges from the woods, Firethorn is a new woman, with mysterious powers.

And soon, in the chaos of the UpsideDown Days, when the highborn and the low trade places, Firethorn couples with the warrior Sire Galan, whom she follows to camp with the king’s army. There she learns that in her new role as a sheath, a warrior’s bedservant, she is but one step above a whore. By day she uses her gifts as a healer to earn a place among the camp’s women, and by night she shares Sire Galan’s bed, her desire equal to his. But the passion they feel for each other has no place in a world ruled by caste and violence. When her lover makes an ill-considered wager that chances her heart, the consequences are disastrous—and Firethorn will learn how hard it can be to tell honor from dishonor, justice from vengeance.

Why: Gods granting gifts, common girl with uncommon gifts, mysterious powers, honor, vengeance... what's not to love. It sounds epic and dark and seductive and intriguing. Random House is a favorite publisher of mine, so I'll definitely be giving Firethorn a try.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Monday book and publishing news

What I'm Reading: Graceling by Kristin Cashore and The Pagan Stone by Nora Roberts

What I'm Working On: 3.3 pages of new snippets. Cross your fingers for me.

Monday book and publishing news
(Note from Macy:
I'm going to make Monday's book and publishing news rather than Manic Mondays. Somedays it will be several little snippets gleaned from multiple locations. Today, it's all from the NYT. Enjoy.)


About That Book Advance ...

Published: April 10, 2009

“In the old days,” the novelist Henry Bech, John Updike’s fictional alter ego, once said, “a respectable author never asked for an advance; that was strictly for the no-talents starving down in the Village.”

Since then, Washington Square rents have soared, and writers of fair and ill repute alike seek advance payment for their books. Once minuscule, some advances have escalated into the millions, like the $5 million Scribner paid last month for Audrey Niffenegger’s second novel, “Her Fearful Symmetry.” News of that deal may have seemed odd coming shortly after the chief executive of Simon & Schuster, Scribner’s parent company, announced that because of declining revenue the house would be “watching every penny.” Indeed, in the latest of a string of eulogies for the book industry as we know it, Time magazine fingered advances as part of the “financial coelacanth” of publishing’s business model, doomed to disappear like brick-and-mortar bookstores.

Yet despite the economic downturn, and the fact that 7 out of 10 titles do not earn back their advance, the system doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. In recent interviews, a dozen New York-based publishers and agents told me, more or less, “Publishers have to keep buying books,” and “They have to bid for the best books” — which in large part means those that will sell.

Advances are seldom specified authoritatively. Amounts are coyly described like cigarette brands — the “mid-fives,” the “low sixes,” the “mild sevens.” In the preface to “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius,” Dave Eggers broke form by telling the reader he received $100,000 for the manuscript, which — after his detailed expenses — netted him $39,567.68.

Advance envy is common. “Writers who can’t recall their Social Security number can say to the penny how much of an advance their nemesis received,” Elissa Schappell, a fiction writer and co-editor of the anthology “Money Changes Everything,” said in an e-mail message. To an outsider, the numbers can seem arbitrary, even absurd. “No one ever says of an advance, ‘That’s exactly what that book deserves,’ ” Schappell said. “Yep, a coming-of-age first novel involving drug addiction and same-sex experimentation is worth $25,000.”

As a payment to be deducted from future royalties, an advance is a publisher’s estimate of risk. Figures fluctuate based on market trends, along with an author’s sales record and foreign rights potential, though most publishers I talked to cited $30,000 as a rough average. In standard contracts, the author receives half up front, a quarter on acceptance of the manuscript and a quarter on publication, though that model is changing, said the literary agent Eric Simonoff, whose clients include James Frey and Jhumpa Lahiri. “Now we see advance amounts being paid in thirds, fourths and even fifths,” Simonoff said in an interview. “For a writer dependent on those funds, that’s not an advance, it’s a retreat.”

The numbers can sound much bigger than they are. Take a reported six-figure advance, Roy Blount Jr., the president of the Authors Guild, said in an e-mail message. “That may mean $100,000, minus 15 percent agent’s commission and self-employment tax, and if we’re comparing it to a salary let us recall (a) that it does not include any fringes like a desk, let alone health insurance, and (b) that the book might take two years to write and three years to get published. . . . So a six-figure advance, while in my experience gratefully received, is not necessarily enough, in itself, for most adults to live on.”

The novelist Walter Kirn agrees. “A low-six-figure advance has allowed me to work at less than minimum wage for three years,” he told me. “Perhaps that’s for the best; a large advance might create a disinclination to do anything other than play blackjack in Las Vegas. When I hear these large, publicized advances, it feels like watching the casino play around me.” (Weep not for Kirn, however; he phoned me from the set of the film adaptation of his novel “Up in the Air,” starring George Clooney.)

The question of what to pay which authors has confounded publishers at least since a stationer agreed to give Milton £5 for the right to sell “Paradise Lost.” Joseph Conrad often begged his agent for more money and once asked to be advanced “a fountain pen of good repute.”

But the current culture of blockbuster advances really took shape in the 1970s, when “hardcover publishing was becoming research and development for mass-market paperbacks,” said Peter Mayer, who started the trade paperback division at Avon Books and is now publisher of Overlook Press. “It was the hardcover houses who drove the increases by selling paperback rights.”

In 1971, for example, Viking sold paperback rights to “The Day of the Jackal” to Bantam for 36 times the $10,000 hardcover advance it had paid its author, Frederick Forsyth. “Agents realized that they should be the ones holding auctions for their authors and get advances more in line with the anticipated total value of their books,” Georges Borchardt, who brokered the hardcover rights, said in an interview. (Full disclosure: Borchardt, who is my agent, got me $50,000 for my first, nonfiction book.)

In the 1980s and ’90s, big money also started taking hold on the literary end. Agents like Andrew Wylie succeeded in fetching celebrity-size advances for canonical authors — Norman Mailer, Philip Roth, Salman Rushdie — on the strength of their backlists and sales over time. Before then, the biggest advances went to “disgraced politicians and failed novelists,” Wylie said in an interview. Not that everyone was happy about the littérateur’s shift in fortunes. In 1995, Martin Amis drew the kind of anger reserved these days for derivatives traders when he left his longtime agent for Wylie, who sold Amis’s novel “The Information” for the then outlandish sum of half a million pounds, or nearly $800,000.

Today, such figures are hardly unusual. Jonathan Safran Foer’s first novel, published in 2003, is said to have fetched $500,000. More recently, Foer’s brother Joshua reportedly got $1.2 million for a book about memory competitions.

But some say that authors grabbing for the brass ring can risk not just ridicule and envy, but their careers. “It used to be that the first book earned a modest advance, then you would build an audience over time and break even on the third or fourth book,” Morgan Entrekin, the publisher of Grove/Atlantic, said in an interview. “Now the first book is expected to land a huge advance and huge sales. The media only reports those, not the long path of writers like John Irving, Richard Ford, Anne Tyler and Toni Morrison. The notion of the ‘first book with flaws’ is gone; now we see a novelist selling 9,000 hardcovers and 15,000 paperbacks, and they see themselves as a failure.”

At PublicAffairs, an independent house specializing in current events, advances are as good as capped, said its founder, Peter Osnos. Osnos paid an average advance of $40,000 for PublicAffairs’ four New York Times best sellers in 2008, including Scott McClellan’s “What Happened,” sums greatly augmented by royalty payments when the books hit it big. “If the market says you need to pay $10 million to acquire a title, no one requires a publisher to pay it,” he said in an interview. “You’re not going out of business if you don’t pay that money.”
Today, some publishers are experimenting with low or no advances. In exchange for low-five-figure advances, the boutique press McSweeney’s, founded by Eggers, shares profits with its authors 50-50, as does the new imprint Harper Studio, which offers sub-six-figure advances.
As for Henry Bech, Updike — whose own advances were reputed to be modest — never let him take money up front. But Bech couldn’t entirely avoid the commercialism engulfing publishing. He turned in his final manuscript to his longtime publisher, Vellum Press, which had been sold to a supermarket chain that peddled it to an oil company, which foisted it off on a shale-and-lumber conglomerate. “It was like being a fallen woman in the old days,” Updike wrote. “Once you sold yourself, you were never your own again.”

Michael Meyer’s book, “The Last Days of Old Beijing,” comes out in paperback in May.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


What I'm Reading: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

What I'm Working On: Inspiration. Being inspired. Writing. At least one page of snippets based on inspiration for my current story each day.

I have been unispired of late. I need inspiration. If you're a writer or artist reading this and you have a great idea that helps you get inspired to create, please post it.
Tonight, I decided to search the internet for images that might inspire me to write on my current WIP. I searched for "broken angels" since my story deals with angels and broken people.

Here's tonight's gift to the muses. (Get to work, girls!!)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Spring Break Sucks (this year)

What I'm Reading: Into the Forest by Jean Hegland and Graceling by Kristin Cashore

What I'm Working On: Not a damn thing (pardon the language, but seriously, I had big plans for this past week and NONE of them turned out right!)

I had been looking forward to spring break for weeks -- since Christmas break if we're being honest. A week at the beach, some sun, some writing, some reading, some quality time with the DH and kids.

What did I actually get?


Very, very, sicker-than-I've-been-in years sick. On my very first day off. I'm still sick. It's true that I no longer have a fever (I had one for 4 days), but my sinuses still hurt so bad that looking intently at anything for more than a few minutes at a time hurts like hell.

Hence, the reason I've working on this blog post for 1.5 hours. (Okay, not quite, but close.) So, now I'm even further behind with the writing. (Here's hoping for a good Sunday.) And I'm still tired. I did alot of nothing over break, but being sick still makes you tired.

Sigh. The best laid plans.......

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday

What I’m Reading: White Heat by Cherry Adair and Into the Forest by Jean Hegland

What I’m Working On: Not a darn thing because I have a flu, sore throat, sinus bug that has knocked me off my feet. I’m not even close to 100% today, but I still feel better than I have since Saturday.

Waiting On Wednesday


When: June 9th, 2009 by Hyperion

When Cammie "the Chameleon" Morgan visits her roommate Macey in Boston, she thinks she's in for an exciting end to her summer break. After all, she's there to watch Macey's father accept a nomination for vice president of the United States. But when you go to the world's best school (for spies), "exciting" and "deadly" are never far apart. Cammie and Macey soon find themselves trapped in a kidnapper's dangerous plot, with only their espionage skills to save them. As her junior year begins, Cammie can't shake the memory of what happened in Boston, and even the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women doesn't feel like the safe haven it once did. Shocking secrets and old flames seem to lurk around every one of the mansion's corners as Cammie and her friends struggle to answer the questions, Who is after Macey? And how can they keep her safe? Soon Cammie is joining Bex and Liz as Macey's private security team on the campaign trail. The girls must use their spy training at every turn as the stakes are raised, and Cammie gets closer and closer to the shocking truth...

I loved the first two books in Ally Carter’s clever series. Both were creative with just enough romance to satisfy my love story fetish. I’ll probably buy this one as soon as it comes out and then pass it on to my niece, who loves them, too.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


I planned to post some new and interesting stuff this week, but I'm sick. I even missed Manic Monday (which may be changing).

Check back soon. As soon as I feel better, I promise to make this more interesting.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday

What I’m Reading: Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

What I’m Working On: Day one of my 100 pages in April Challenge. 3.3 pages per day.

Waiting on Wednesday?

A MADNESS OF ANGELS (The Resurrection of Matthew Swift) by Kate Griffin.
Published by Orbit, April 6, 2009

For Matthew Swift, today is not like any other day. It is the day on which he returns to life. Two years after his untimely death, Matthew Swift finds himself breathing once again, lying in bed in his London home. Except that it's no longer his bed, or his home. And the last time this sorcerer was seen alive, an unknown assailant had gouged a hole so deep in his chest that his death was irrefutable...despite his body never being found. He doesn't have long to mull over his resurrection though, or the changes that have been wrought upon him. His only concern now is vengeance. Vengeance upon his monstrous killer and vengeance upon the one who brought him back.

First, love the cover. Second, I think this is pretty unique. A dead sorcerer come back to life with vengeance on his mind, changed in ways he’s just discovering, and unknowing who’s behind his resurrection. Wow, look at all the built in twists!