Sunday, January 30, 2011

Editor sued for running a negative review

I know that Sundays are generally reserved for Blog Spots and hopefully I will get to those as soon as possible, but for the time being with a rather nasty string of headaches. As a result, I feel rather drained to form any in-depth sentences. So I leave you with a rather bizarre courtroom case that is going down in Paris as we speak:

After running a review of the book by Thomas Weigend, director of the Cologne Institute of Foreign and International Criminal Law, and dean of the faculty of law at the University of Cologne, “Dr Calvo-Goller wrote to Professor Weiler alleging that it was defamatory and asking for it to be taken down,” says the THE report, because it could “cause harm to my professional reputation and academic promotion.” She even provided Weiler with a positive review to run in its place. Weiler told her “The heavy burden needed in my eyes to suppress a book review has not been met,” but offered her space to reply. She declined and pressed charges of “criminal libel” instead.

To be fair, this case sounds less bizarre in context. The negative review, in question, relates to very niche non-fiction, which requires a very narrow and specialized knowledge to write. It's not complete overreaction [in theory] considering how a review affects the competence, reputation and credibility of a specialist. Had the review been truly aimed at the author and not the book [in this case it's not] then I can justify this happening. But given the circumstances explained in the paragraph above I'm inclined to think that this case leans more to being a farce.

“What did Calvo-Goller do wrong in this situation? Rather than covering up the fact she may or may not have written a credible ICC ‘Trial Proceedings’ book, she illuminated the fact that she may or may not have written a credible ICC ‘Trial Proceedings’ book.”

This is the actual morale of the story. Given the circumstances, Calvo-Goller should have kept quiet about her book not being perfect. It's human nature to be err and a faulty book can and will receive negative reviews. You screw up and try your best with the next.

Yes, the review was posted in a respectable and popular venue. However, what we must not forget is that negative reviews get posted all the time. People read them and that's that. Some of the times the review sticks with the reader, more often than not people forget they've read it.

What Calvo-Goller did was to not only bring the negative review to the attention of thousands more, but also making it stick. The verdict is due March and the defendant runs a column about the experience. This case is receiving attention and then after all this is over [whether she wins or loses] the trial will become a connotation to her name. I'm sure that it will taint her future readers' opinion of her work.

LESSON: When you try to vindicate your ego, beware how far you go and whether you have the justifications to do so. Considering that most of us focus on fiction, I doubt a negative review will get this to court [UNLESS you stole someone's novel; shame on you]. But when you decide to hog the spotlight, your ass is on the line. Beware.

The whole article can be found [HERE]

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Weird Tales is on the rise [that is quite obvious]

I'm very fond of Weird Tales, one of the oldest magazines to post weird fiction and speculative fiction in general. It brought me great joy to learn about the new changes happening. Here is the press release:

Several exciting developments mark the start of 2011 for Weird Tales. In addition to launching a new website , editor-in-chief Ann VanderMeer and publisher John Betancourt have raised the pay rate to 5 cents per word and implemented a new submissions portal for potential contributors.

These changes come on the heels of the news last year that VanderMeer would be taking over as editor-in-chief, with Paula Guran retained as nonfiction editor and Mary Robinette Kowal named as art director. This is the first time in the magazine’s 88-year history that Weird Tales has had an all-female editorial/management staff. Dominik Parisien and Alan Swirsky join Tessa Kum as editorial assistants on the Weird Tales team.

“Weird Tales was always known for publishing unclassifiable dark fiction, for publishing new voices alongside old pros, and we’ll continue that tradition,” VanderMeer says. “Our website updates those traditions by posting video flash fictions and news of the bizarre.” The new site also features a blog, through which VanderMeer and the rest of the Weird Tales team will discuss fiction and topics related to the revamped magazine.

This month marks the publication of the 357 issue of the magazine, featuring exceptionally strong short fiction. Contributors include Hundred Thousand Kingdoms’ N.K. Jemisin with “The Trojan Girl”, Swedish newcomer Karin Tidbeck’s ingenious and unsettling inversion of faerie and critically acclaimed J. Robert Lennon with “Portal,” a disturbing Shirley-Jackson-esque horror story. Weird Tales will return to its normal quarterly schedule this year, with future issues slated for May, August, and November.

Thanks to Matt Kressel for the new website and Neil Clarke for the submissions portal.


What does this mean? First, Weird Tales is now a professionally paying market. Second, I think it will prosper immensely under the guidance of an all female editorial team. I won't pretend that women don't have a special approach, when it comes to fiction and I'm sure that more surprises will come soon. Third, the magazine won't be going on anywhere soon.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Lazy Teen Superheroes

Yes, I've been inexcusably silent. However, the exams are over and I can resume a normal posting schedule. My first treat is a short film on YouTube called Lazy Teen Superheroes:

You have to admit that it has great effects... I didn't expect it to be this well acted as well. I think it's even better than most of the superhero shows to pop on the Boob Tube these days. With The Cape being nonsense and No Ordinary Family being a pure melodramatic flop.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Art based on Books, I want more of it

I’m still more or less incognito, but I do have some small snippets to sneak a few hundred or so words on my blog. I think that Friday shall be Character Discussion day with me not really discussing, but I shall be providing outsider insight on the matter. Lovely now, isn’t it? Today I have something special. See that image below?

This is art inspired by One Flew over a Cuckoo’s Nest. Impressive, isn’t it? Personally, I’ve not read the novel nor do I have any idea what’s it about [it was in the commentary under the image that I learned it involved an antagonist nurse]. This novel along with many others to be frank bring instant recognition, when I hear their titles, because I’ve grown up hearing their titles thrown into conversations – I think One Flew over a Cuckoo’s Nest is even the name of a late talk show in Bulgaria, but that was renamed, so I maybe fabricating memories. But as it happens, I know nothing about them.

Really though, I will talk about this on my review blog in further detail. What I wanted to talk about is how artists interpret books in their artwork. This is what I’d love to see more:

• Artists rendering new covers to older books
• Artists reworking bestsellers’ covers in various styles. The same way last year’s Oscar nominees received alternative posters.
• More dynamic pieces based on books rather than character development sheets [this is more of a phenomenon, when dealing with graphic novels and comics, but I think that if what I want catches up, then there would be a lot of character stills].

This is really it, really. What do you have to say about the relationship between literature and art?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Internet: Continues to NOT be a friend

I did plan on something more writerly for Wednesday, but I couldn't complete much. WHY? Cause I keep playing on Twitter or GChat and get nothing done. I think I lose a good 45% of my time on the browser surfing, when I should be writing. Projects keep piling up and guess who has to read a gazillion books and write a gazillion reviews and study for exams and work as a publicity intern...

Yeah, the Internet -gasp- is not my friend.

SO what did I do from today?

I unplugged the cable, rolled it up and stuck it on the highest raft of the highest bookcase. Yeah, the productivity rate rose with %200. Imagine that.

There is an immense backlog that has to be handled, so no fiction writing until January the 25th. But at least I will be over with that.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Real World Writing Camp

Here is something you might really enjoy. It's badly acted, but very witty and to be honest, the glee with which the parents accept the offer is delightful. Now watch:

Sunday, January 9, 2011

[Blog Spot] TalkYoUniverse run by Juliette Wade

I'm largely back to semi-regular posting or at least I do hope I am. I'm coming back with a bit of blog pimpage. While I indulged the radio silence I discovered a fantastic blog for fantasy and science fiction writers. TalkToYoUniverse is run by Juliette Wade and here is her official introduction:

Analog SF author Juliette Wade's blog for lovers of science fiction and fantasy who want to talk to an expert about questions of language and culture (linguistics and anthropology): in the real world, in published fiction, or in worlds and universes of their own creation.

What I do enjoy about TalkToYoUniverse is that it delivers unlike other blogs [including mine]. Juliette is easy to approach on Twitter or in her comments, which is always a plus. The predominant content deals with worldbuilding topics [emphasis on culture, diversity and consistency], language and also a great deal about properly using various elements [pronouns, POV and dialogue among others].

What makes TalkToYoUniverse stand out from the crowd? The in-depth analysis of all the above. The Internet brims with blogs that scratch the surface [mine included at some points] and it's a rarity to find that extra fat on any subject regarding writing. It's cliched, but Juliette gives added value by not only informing you what you already know, but also using it as a platform to develop a lot more intricate ideas.

For all those who enjoy process pron, you will love TalkToYoUniverse as Juliette usually goes for a meticulous description of her own methods. This way she avoids this-is-how-it's-done manuals, which more or less make us all cringe one way or another.

Right now, the most interesting feature is the Wednesday Worldbuilding Workshop, which apart from the alliterating goodness, offers some pretty in-depth and critical look into a writer's 500 word long excerpt. To be honest, to me 500 words seemed insufficient for such a task, but you need to see the first post in this workshop to see what exactly can be taken from these 500 words and how an experienced eye makes the difference.

You back? Great, I bet that you know why you need to have TalkToYoUniverse in your RSS.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Death of Geek Culture, Can it die?

I'm chasing deadlines on the moment, so I'll feed you some grub from my RSS feed. I found this article on the Orbit Books blog. This is actually a response by Robert Jackson Bennett on the essay written by Patton Oswalt [[his essay is here] btw I still have not read the essay, since I'm chasing the said deadlines]. Here is an interesting snipped from this response:

In the escape hatch, we’re familiar with such an enormous litany of well-established tastes that all you have to do is reference them one after the other, playing each cherished obscurity like the keys of a xylophone, in order induce the groundswell of support we all so desire. Slap a superhero or a zombie with any underground mythology, like Thundercats or Transformers, and it pretty much writes itself.

Patton thinks that’s cross-pollination. It is, in a way, but it’s within one small field, and it’s among only a handful of flowers. And I don’t think it’s as self-destructive as he presumes. We’re human. We like the familiar. We like the routine. And we don’t like challenge. But that encourages repetition, and sloth, and becomes akin to a terminal patient pressing that morphine button over and over again. It does not engage in the limitless array of culture, and art, and thought that is available in the wide world. And this is what’s necessary to produce a healthy sense of art, of purpose, and of self-awareness.

Honestly, I wanted to copy paste the whole article, but I somehow managed to restrict myself. I think it's well worth reading [but I think it'd be better to read the essay, aka not do like me, but I have deadlines people, ahem].

To a degree I think that the majority of accusations about said cross pollination are addressed to the movie industry. The constant re-makes and re-boots as well as regurgitation of the same old ideas. Also, how the Internet seems to have made things a bit worse.

I think Geek culture is changing. I mean, everything is changing. What was, may not be the very same thing that someone loves and I think the original essay is more of a nostalgic rant [yeah, I skimmed the original essay] rather than a very objective look on Geek culture. The Internet has changed everything by accelerating the exchange of data and Geek culture will definitely morph as the Internet evolves as well.

Where this will lead, I have no idea. I just know that nothing is ever truly dead as far as culture goes, be it dead or otherwise. There are only ups and downs. Currently, the constant remakes, movie novelizations and movies based on books and comics and the cross-overs and then the movie-based games are a low. [I'm biased, I know. Hate re-makes and re-boots].

Saturday, January 1, 2011

[Resolutions] Year of Bringing Things to an End

I'm not a resolutions person per se. I know how life exists with the sole purpose to ruin all meticulous and labored plans just o see how you will react to the sudden change, so I know that plans have to be flexible. While I agree I need to define specific, measurable goals I also think that I need a margin of error.

This year I'm not going to push myself for wordcount goals. I'm going to focus on editing and 2011 will be the Year of Bringing Things to an End.

The main goal here will be writing every single day. The ceiling wordcount will be set at 2,000 words, when my schedule is not that demanding. The floor wordcount will be set at 500 words, just to keep the flow coming. Now January is my worst month, because I'll be studying for exams, so I expect 500 bursts of words every day with grand total of 15,000 words for January. November is a NaNoWriMo, so one novel or something like a novel will be produced in the novel department. No idea on what to choose and write.

This will be my focus. Currently I want to edit Crimson Cacophony in shape by March, when Angry Robot Books will host an open month for unsolicited manuscripts. I'm not sure whether that novel is my debut novel, but it's a novel that I think suits their style. So the deadline is February 28th. After this, my next project that I hope to edit is my super hero novel V is for Voltage. Deadline for this is October 31st. Considering how starting in May I will be working and studying, it's a realistic goal.

I'll complete all the stories in Lungs. I'm one third done, but I up the ante and finish all of the pieces. I want to finish before my writing alters and leave some entries marginally weaker by comparison. Then I have some short stories that I'd love to see finished and edited.

I think this is manageable. Somehow. Or maybe not...