Category: books and publishing


Sunday Salon: The One Where ALL THE THINGS ARE HAPPENING

Posted 22 March, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in blogging, books and publishing, memes, Reading

sundaysalon1

Time // 9:08 EDT

Place // As if you had to ask, couch perch.

Stuff // TONS of things coming up/happening. Let’s take them one at a time.

The Socratic Salon

 

The Socratic Salon

A collaborative project between me, Monika at Lovely Bookshelf, Catherine at The Gilmore Guide to Books, Shannon at River City Reading, and Jennifer at The Relentless Reader. It’s a new bookish community where our goal is to engender deeper discussions into the books that we read. The site launches in earnest tomorrow (teaser today!) and we’re aiming for our first discussion, on Hausfrau, to go live on Wednesday. Keep your eyeballs peeled because you are probably the most important part of this collaborative effort. (Click on the picture or the title to get to the site.)

 

cloudatlasalong

 

#CloudAtlasAlong

Go get your copy now, because Katie at Bookish Tendencies and I are about to get this ball rolling! You can find the tentative schedule for our fabulous readalong of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas on Katie’s blog here. Can’t wait for you all to join us!

 

Bloggiesta

Bloggiesta

Last but not least, Bloggiesta starts next week. Despite my busy work schedule and all the other stuff happening I’d like to take part as much as I can. So. Goals.

  • Keep plugging my old reviews into the UBB plug-in.
  • Get a few posts written so I have stuff in the queue.
  • Tweak the theme as necessary.
  • Work on some posts for The Socratic Salon with my co-founders
  • Make it to a few Twitter chats!
  • Take a peek at some mini-challenges that might do me some good.
  • Disable Bloglovin’ from posting on Twitter.
  • Backup the blog.
  • Check out and make sure that the blog is interacting with other social media platforms correctly.

 

Whew! I told you there was a lot going on. How’s your week looking, Reader?

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April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Tournament of Books 2015: Week Two Feels

Posted 21 March, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in books and publishing

bracket week 3

 

Holy hell. What happened this past week? All my brackets went straight to hell and I am forced to re-evaluate. Of course the zombie picks could (hopefully?) change everything. But based on this week’s commentary — the three that I have poised to win it all have changed to Seven KillingsAn Untamed State, or The Paying Guests. The only one I would have put money on before was An Untamed State which I was very  conflicted in choosing Station Eleven over. So! Let’s chat.

Station Eleven v. An Untamed State

Look. I was super conflicted over this pick. An Untamed State was fully worthy of winning this match-up and I think I only went with Station Eleven because of my long time love of literary dystopias. I approve of this decision.

Redeployment v. A Silence Once Begun

YAY! I chose well, for a change! Redeployment was such a powerful package of short stories that really spoke to me (perhaps because I am a veteran), whereas Silence Once Begun as lovely as the writing was — simply was too reminiscent of something that had already been done.

Everything You Never Told Me v. Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay

Could there be two longer book titles matched up against one another? Since I only read Everything You Never Told Me, I really had little opinion on this decision — however, I felt that choosing the third book in a quartet was a bit of a dirty trick from The Morning News people.

Oh dear Jesus. Then there were the Quarter-Finals.

The Bone Clocks v. A Brief History of Seven Killings

This decision hurt me. I loved The Bone Clocks sooooo much. I simply couldn’t get through the density of Seven Killings – and those who know me, know that dense books don’t bother me. Woe. Sad to see Holly Sykes leave us so soon.

All the Light We Cannot See v. The Paying Guests

WHAT? WHAT THE WHAT?!  I can hardly understand what happened here with Judge Wolitzer’s (Yes, the Meg Wolitzer) decision. All the Light We Cannot See was such a gorgeously written novel and The Paying Guests was just so… pedestrian to me. It’s the only Sarah Waters book that I’ve read – but I can’t help but wonder if Waters’ name recognition is propelling this book forward.

Dear Lord, Reader. Who knows what will go down next week. I’ve updated my brackets. What do you think?

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April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Groundhog Day Giveaway! That’s Paris Anthology

Posted 2 February, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in books and publishing

Today is (the Kindle edition) release day for That’s Paris: Life, Love, and Sarcasm in the City of Light! Let me tell you, it’s a fabulous compilation that will make you both laugh and cry. The array of talented authors contributing to this anthology can be found at Velvet Morning Press, the brain-child of Vicki Lesage and Adria J. Cimino, both talented authors (and contributors!).
Oh! Who else do I spot on the list of contributors? Gee whiz! That’s ME! Also, a nice G-rated piece from our very own AnnaSaurus Rex (go see her podcast, Type Omaha, while you’re in the mood for travel). While Anna and I are both readers, not writers — I assure you the level of professionalism and excellent writing in this anthology is extraordinarily wonderful. 
It should also be mentioned that all author proceeds from this anthology go to charity! Room to Read will benefit from every sale of this book! How awesome is Velvet Morning Press? One more thing I have to mention before we get to the giveaway is that Allison from The Book Wheel is also working with Velvet Morning Press creating an anthology Legacy with submissions from the authors that participated in the fabulous 30 Authors event back in September. So lots of good stuff coming soon! 
So, the giveaway! I’m giving away one hard copy of That’s Paris (U.S. only) and one Kindle edition (Open internationally!). I’ll even inscribe the hard copy if you like. 😉 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Great Movies from Great Books: A Bad Idea?

Posted 7 January, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in books and publishing, musings

I’ve been frightened to open my computer since Bout of Books started because I’m sure I’ll get sucked in (like I always do) and get no reading done. But the blog must go on! So I’m hoping one early morning post won’t eat up my whole day (read: I get sucked into a thousand other things that probably need my attention more than books.

You probably know me as a ray of sunshine. So I’m going to talk about something negative today (I know… it’s shocking). Okay, kind of negative. I’m joking… okay 80% joking. Today I want to talk about my beef with:

Great Movies that come from Great Books
I know. I know! I love movies as much as the next guy, but recently I’ve been doing re-reads of books that I haven’t read in 20+ years. (Jurassic Park, Carrie, and The Shining … even Harry Potter, though obviously the re-read was closer to the initial reads) come to mind immediately. I want to express my deep and undying love for the movie adaptations of these books. However, as great as these movies are, they make us lazy. Instead of re-reading Carrie or The Shining I let them languish on my shelves for many years, satisfying my urge with the wonderful movie adaptations. After all, movies are two, three hours at most – totally enjoyable, better with heavily buttered popcorn than a book, and infinitely more social (at least if you’re me, I talk through movies).
But when I finally got around to getting back to the original source material for these movies (which of course I always knew was better) I was blown away by exactly how much better. Everyone who has seen it (except Stephen King) can agree that Kubrick’s The Shining is a cinematic masterpiece, but honestly, after re-reading the book after so many years in preparation for the release of Doctor Sleep, I was completely taken aback (and kind of understand King’s frustration) by how badly the source material was bastardized AND how much friggin’ scarier the book is. Not just scarier – deeper. Because there are tons of elements at work that Kubrick was necessarily (and perhaps at times unnecessarily) forced to leave out. But because the movie is much easier to access it has become the universe most of us first think of when we consider The Shining. Do you see what I’m saying here?
 
I think that the problem becomes doubly troubling when it comes to classics. I consider all the books that I listed above classics in their own right, but now I’m talking about undisputed classics – Gone With the Wind, Austen and the Bröntes, Dumas, Hugo, Tolstoy, even Dracula. Some of these books are chunky-chunksters and admittedly hard reading. Fantastic movies have been made out of books from all these authors – but inevitably just as with The Shining they are watered down and those who never read the books truly miss something (I’m looking at you non-bookish high school and college students 😉 ).
My problem, I suppose, is that of the purist. The age old question (which shall never truly be answered or agreed upon) on whether it’s better to expose the general public to some sort of greatness from these grand works of literature or whether the only way to truly experience them is in the purest possible manner – that is by reading the book.
Classical music aficionados (of which I proudly consider myself an amateur one – due to my past life as music major) run into the same trouble. Classical music surrounds us in everyday life, commercials, cartoons (Rhapsody Rabbit, sadly not available for viewing is among my favorites), and (worst of all) muzak. So, is it better to present the public with these bastardized versions of classical music so that people with no interest in classical music are at least exposed to these great works of art or is it an affront to the greatness of the work itself? But I digress.
Often the question comes up in bookish surveys on what book you would love to see adapted to the screen – my answer invariably is none of them. For a long time the reason was because it’s so easy for Hollywood to get the book spectacularly wrong, but the more I think about it another reason is that it makes us forget the complexities and wonder of the books that are adapted.
Does this mean I’m going to stop seeing movies based on books? Probably not. But I am going to try to remember the source material is (almost) always inevitably more complex and wondrous than whatever the big or small screen can show us.
Incidentally, I just read a terrible book that would make a great movie… but that’s another post.
Also, if you want to get to the books before the 2015 movies are released you should check out Shannon’s post at River City Reading on Books to Read Before They Hit the Screen.
Now I must return to reading. I have thirteen books that I haven’t read that are going to be in The Tournament of Books 2015.
What do you think, Reader? Are you a book (or music) purist? Do you think that eliminating movie/TV adaptations would spur the casual reader to take on more of these books? What about the hard books? I also want to note I’m super-scared about HBO’s adaptation of Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy – but if anyone can pull of even a semblance of the greatness of those books – it’s HBO. I hope.
 
 
 

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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The Whirlwind Trip to D.C. – Stephen King, An Ode to

Posted 17 November, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in books and publishing, musings, writers

So, I went to Washington D.C. for three days with the express purpose of seeing Stephen King speak. I had the added pleasure of being able to meet up with Shannon at River City Reading for the event. I’m going to tell you of my trip in reverse order, because I know what the people really want (and that’s this post). 

The event was a reading that was a part of a six city tour to promote his new book Revival. Before we get started with the main event I need you to know a little bit of my personal background with Stephen King. If you’ve been hanging around for any period of time, you probably already know this about me. 

I picked up my first King book (Cujo) from my father’s stack of King novels when I was eleven. I remember being relegated to walking around the fences of the tennis courts during gym class because I had ‘accidentally’ forgotten my gym clothes (again). 

Growing up walking home from school with The Giver, A Wrinkle in Time, and of course the ubiquitous Baby Sitter’s Club, and Fear Street novels made me quite proficient at walking and reading. So walking that rectangular fence, expertly avoiding the cracks in the asphalt I found something in Cujo that even to this day I can’t quite describe. 

Before Cujo it never occurred to me that things like pubic hair could be spoken of outside a health textbook, that there could be such suspense, and as King often puts it himself ‘balls to the wall horror’ contained within a novel. That death and despair were possible and all you had to do was open the book to be completely transported somewhere terrifying. It should also be noted that in my opinion Cujo is not one of his better novels and weirdly, holds no special place in my heart.

For this reason alone I think that King and his writing are special to me and molded me as a reader, but something also struck me about him while watching a biography program. I couldn’t have been more than fourteen or so and what I remember best about the program is the idea that King conveyed that even if he wasn’t being paid a cent for his writing — he’d still be doing it, solely for the passion that he has for the craft. His love of reading and writing made a lasting impression on me and he is someone I very much admire for that passion. 

Okay, let’s get to the goods, you’re thinking. So! The (sold out) event was scheduled for 7 p.m. at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium which has a capacity of 1,409. Shannon had to work that morning and I was just grateful she was willing to brave the D.C. traffic. So I killed the morning visiting The Supreme Court and The Library of Congress (details coming in future posts). After some slight snafu’s regarding meeting locations Shannon and I finally met up at the National Museum of American History where Shannon had just concluded saying hello to the First Ladies dresses.

Obligatory proof of life meeting picture.

So while employees of the Lisner Auditorium told me that people had been lining up since at least one p.m., Shannon and I chose to enjoy dinner and we made it to the venue at about 6:30, it turned out very nicely, while we weren’t overly close, that was probably for the best as that way Shannon was not forced to restrain me while I attempted to throw myself on the stage like a madwoman. 

I’m still rambling, aren’t I? Well, when the King made his way on to the stage Shannon did have to deal with a mild amount of squeeing and she may have handed me the smelling salts at some point but once the event got going it was everything I wanted it to be, and more. King was charming, funny, down to earth and… a terrible dresser. Pictures in a moment.

I was really impressed how he segued from the first line of a bad two line joke, (“Two jumper cables walk into a bar…”) into the craft of writing, his own writing process, and everything else in-between. I won’t go so far as to say he’s a formidable public speaker, but he’s definitely engaging. The audience was slightly insane and clapped every time he mentioned the title of one of his books (even Gerald’s Game, I mean seriously?) but he took it in stride and never came off as arrogant or irritating (or irritated, for that matter). I was also delighted to find out that he’s friends with John Irving (my top three authors, Stephen King, John Irving, Margaret Atwood). 

There wasn’t supposed to be photography allowed but the girl two seats down from me had a full on DSLR camera and if she had taken one more picture with a flash in the darkened auditorium, I was going to shank her. In hindsight, I should have given her my card and asked her to email me her photos. By the time Q&A came up and the floor lights came up I decided to damn the rules and eke out two fuzzy little shots. Here’s what I got for my effort and breaking of the rules. 


Oh, the end of the joke is: Two jumper cables walk into a bar and say, “Can we get a drink?” the bartender says, “Yeah, just don’t start anything.” <rimshot>.

Overall great time meeting and hanging out with Shannon at such a phenomenal event. Totally worth the price of tickets, especially considering we each got a hardback copy of Revival (though sadly, we were not among the lucky few who randomly got signed copies). 

So, Reader, do you have any authors that you’d travel 1200+ miles round trip over the course of three days to see? I flew, no worries. Though the pilot on my trip back to Atlanta might have been wearing heels during the landing.

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Guest Post: Stuck in the Middle

Posted 20 October, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in books and publishing, guest post, writers

Source: loranger / Foter / CC BY

What writer hasn’t dreamed of being published, selling loads of copies, and maybe even having his or her book made into a movie? One of my friends is doing just that. I’d be jealous if I wasn’t so darn happy for her. Her book, traditionally published, was released in June 2014 and has sold nearly 5,000 copies—an  amazing feat considering those are print copies (she doesn’t yet have an ebook).

And a small-time movie production house is in negotiations with her publisher for the movie rights. She told me not to get excited because even if they buy the rights, they only produce 1 out of 7 scripts they have the rights to. Sorry, can’t help it—I’m excited for her!

On the other end of the spectrum, I know plenty of self-published authors with high-quality books (you wouldn’t even know they’re self-published by the looks of them) who have only sold a handful of copies.

So what do these people have in common? They’re all broke as a joke.

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am stuck in the middle with you.

In this Stealer’s Wheel analogy, I’m not sure who’s the clown and who’s the joker, but I do know there has to be a better way for authors. So much talent, so little money. If you go with a traditional publisher, you might get more visibility for your book but your royalties are so low (typically 7-15%) it’s hard to make a living off of it unless you’re one of the few breakout stars.

And while self-publishers can earn up to 70% in royalties, it doesn’t amount to much unless you sell enough copies.

Trying to make some sense of it all. But I can see that it makes no sense at all.

What the industry needs is a publisher that is small enough to give you the focused attention and marketing your book needs to succeed while not taking all your hard-earned royalties. You don’t need to sell millions; as long as you earn decent royalties, you can make a comfortable living with your books on the midlist.

Light bulb!

That’s exactly what we do at Velvet Morning Press, an indie publishing house I launched with co-founder and fellow author Adria J. Cimino. We’re sick of seeing authors having to work a day job to support a writing career. If you write something great, you should have a shot at success. With Velvet Morning Press, we offer higher royalties than larger publishing houses and stick with you—and your book—to market it to success.

We are currently accepting submissions of finished manuscripts, so if you’ve got one that meets our criteria, send it along! We look forward to being “Stuck in the Middle” with you—we  believe it’s the best place for a new author to be.


I find this almost unbearably exciting, Readers! Both Vicki and Adria are fabulous authors and awesome people to boot! It’s almost enough to make me wish I was a writer, who knows maybe I’ll spruce up my NaNoWriMo manuscript from last year and throw my hat in the ring. Are you a writer who looks like this might be a good option for you? 


April @ The Steadfast Reader

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