Buggered Mind of Neale Sourna, The

Opines, comments, rants, concerns, imaginings from Neale Sourna, fiction author and more -- www.Neale-Sourna.com, www.PIE-Percept.com, www.ProjectKeanu.com, www.AuthorsDen.com/nealesourna, www.CafeShops.com/NealeSourna, www.Writing-Naked.com, and www.CuntSinger.com

Friday, October 24, 2008

Vote, I Vote, But Do You Want My Vote to Count for Yours, too?

Vote, I Vote, But Do You Want My Vote to Count for Yours, too?

"Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation."
— Robert F. Kennedy; US Senator, former United States Attorney General, beloved assassinated [1968] candidate for President of the US

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Too much TV: There is overlap and learning, and if you have to ask....

From Neale Sourna at Absolute Write Forum.

It's okay to love TV, film, oh, and novels/short stories.
I think TV watching, if you actively watch and question it as you view, is not a problem in an of itself. Except in whether there are too many hours in it versus a deadline you have. And yes, I am guilty there, but so are all of us spending just a little more extra time reading all the replies to that Absolute Write forum thread.

It is interesting that no one questions whether your new Harry Potter or finally sitting down to read War and Peace will eat up just at much time, or more.

And yes I watch, a lot, and DVD seasons, etc. But also, I often find better writing and character execution with Joss Whedon, or on Smallville. More freshness in how to tell a story and just put a smile on a face with a Pushing Daisies, and the like.

Because there are some novels and books I own or have read for genre research and the like and they are not that good; they need editing, proofing, another revision or two or three. I mean, really, Bridges of Madison County could not be handed in as first class classwork to the teacher who wrote it, and expect to get a good grade, and yet it was published and filmed, to boot, with hall its unfinished, illogical bits just lying there like old, clumpy oatmeal. Unpalatable, but it hit a wave and rode to shore.

TV is not always some kind of waste, think how many people must subliminally accept Barack Obama as presidential material, because two very tall, very black and smart men have been president on 24; giving us a new way of seeing ourselves in the future we make now.

It is--my keyboard is not letting me make contractions, and it is killing me!!--reboot.

It is your life, your time, some stories must be written NOW, others need time, lots of time to get down to their juicier, more subtle bits. There is stuff like that on TV, and well done too. And the good actors with the good scripts oft times give you better stuff on TV than in feature movies; think Battlestar versus Starship Poopers.

And then, again, there is the WWE and Stargate(s) things--guilty pleasures that make you happy. Happy is good. Plus, it is THE medium, other than the third world war of WWW that has to be accepted and used, ignoring it makes you an extinct dinosaur.

Besides more people waste more time away at work, commuting, getting bagels, talking to cubicle mates, and emailing friends, than half of us foruming, TVing, and multitasking our writing careers from home, with two novels, a client project or two, and a new proposal all in the works and open on our PCs.
Neale Sourna
Overlap. Whether watching TV, films on DVD (on tv), live theatre, reading books (that you're not editing or writing), etc. are all the same time wasters. As are forums, Google, Wikipedia, etc. And yet, there is a necessity for them, and a conscious or unconscious manner of getting lost in them.

Learning. No where, except on TV, can you have so many time eras visualized (and the hard work or enforced segregations of various people and castes, how even Queen Victoria thought girls should not be educated, which I find reprehensible, inconceivable, and hypocrisy, but, then, she was royalty and we are not).

TV (broadcast, DVD, cable, satellite) places all of this before you, giving you, well, me, insight into how different and the same we are between us now and now, and now and then, or the chance to pop in disc after disc to see how "Little Women" (and attitudes toward women and starlets' capacity) has been handled, and changed considerably, from decade to decade in Hollywood Film. --I use this in my writing; Victorian era, servants/masters, mistreatment of....

TV's better than life. Sometimes. It's more concise in telling a story of certain kinds, well and badly. Both good and bad are useful to me. Actual language between people on buses and in malls, seldom gives me anything useful for dialog or situations; besides, we write film, TV, novel, theatre dialog not REAL dialog, which is boring, inane, and babbles on forever about nothing.

Did I mention that I hate cell phones on public transportation?

And insight. I think a lot while watching. And think a lot while not watching. And while trying to sleep.

"Letting it wash over" me, is more than a bath of visuals and sount, it's zen. And, yes, if you have to ask if you're using too much time for it, it's the same as asking, "Do you think Terry loves me, what do you think, BFF?"

A few insights for me this week, while watching broadcast (recorded or "live") and DVDs, plus misc. other media and thoughts and family comments coming together in divine moments:

* solid and attractive actor Rufus Sewell (U.K.) now on CBS-TV's version of "Eleventh Hour"--why doesn't he get more leads to front movies and stuff, has been my question since "Dark City", and I knew, but now I get it. I get how THEY must see him, when highering. It's his eyes, they're an odd color on screen, whether in color or b/w, and more specifically he looks a bit haunted, and has sharp, lean cheekbones, so casting souls see him a certain way, negatively; where I've mentally cast him for a lead actor because of those eyes, positively.

* PBS's "Secrets (or whatever) of the Inquisition" taught me that school had misled me into thinking the Inq. only existed during medieval/renaissance days. While it lasted, officially, until 1870, making the last who were actively harmed by it lived to see my grandmother and John Kennedy born. And:

o That it answered that 9-1-1 question noncolored Americans asked a lot in Sept 2001, "Why do they hate us (U.S.A.) so?" Well, watching TV/PBS tied in with a book from Cleveland Public Library on "Defiled Professions...Outcasts" in medieval/renaissance times answered it sharply. Yeah, THEY like our stuff, and our pour are richer than their poor, that THEIR religion isn't getting them ahead of us, blah-blah-blah. It's hard for Americans because we never were like any of them. The closest who were, were enslaved, and never asked "Why do they hate...?"

The answer, to me: Citizens of the US don't know their place. Fiddlers on roofs know their place. Upstairs/Downstairs people know theirs, but Americans were one thing yesterday, are something or someone else today, and tomorrow will move physically again, or shift themselves inside, and rewrite their whole universe again. That frightens people about the US, while they still try to live some life they imagined worked for some dead ancestor thousands of years ago: before phones; cars; voting for ALL citizens of age, regardless of sex or ownership, and education for same, for all.

It's not a special badge of honor to be wholly ignorant of such a powerful medium, nor great to be wholly enslaved to it. But it keeps us off the streets, starting wars, and stuff. And do you think the new special guest star on "Heroes" is...?
Neale Sourna

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Thursday, October 09, 2008

Best selling author on length/process to physical publishing.


Diana Gabaldon is the New York Times best-selling author of the Outlander series, which tells the story of Jamie Fraser, a Scottish Highlander from the 18th century, and his time-traveling wife, Claire. The latest book in the series, A Breath of Snow and Ashes, is available everywhere.

Excerpted From Diana Gabaldon site letter:

OK, -- on to An Echo in the Bone, which is probably what most people want to know about.

1) An Echo in the Bone is the seventh volume in the main Outlander series.

2) An Echo in the Bone is not the last book in this series!!

3) I am still writing An Echo in the Bone!!!

A) I get a certain amount of idiotic email accusing me of having already finished the book, but “hiding” it from the readers, or keeping it off the market “just to be mean” or (of all insane notions) “to drive the price up.” (It ain’t pork bellies, people; the cover price is the same whenever it comes out, and I don’t set it.) I don’t mean to be impolite here, but…geez, guys.

i) Look. Books are

a) written in order to be read, and

b) published in order to make money.

ii) Publishers do not make money from books that are not in bookstores. Ergo….

iii) Publishers want to sell books as soon as the books are ready.

iv) So do authors. What do you think I live on, while I’m supposedly keeping a book off the market to be mean? And why do you think I’d want to be mean to the people who read my books? Sheesh.

4) Right. Now, I hope to finish writing An Echo in the Bone around the end of this year.

OK, pay close attention now….

5) The book will not—repeat not—REPEAT NOT!!!—be published on December 31st, even if I finish writing it on December 30th. Why not? Well, because…

A) Books don’t go directly from the author to the bookstore.

B) Books go from the author to the Editor, who

i) reads the manuscript

ii) discusses the manuscript with the author, and

iii) suggests minor revisions that may improve the book

C) The book goes back to the author, who

i) re-reads the manuscript

ii) considers the editor’s comments, and

iii) makes whatever revisions, emendments, or clarifications seem right.

D) The book goes back to the editor, who

i) reads it again

ii) asks any questions that seem necessary, and

iii) sends it to

E) The copy-editor. This is a person whose thankless job is to

i) read the manuscript one…word…at…a…time

ii) find typos or errors in grammar, punctuation, or continuity (one heck of a job, considering the size not only of the individual books, but of the overall series), and

iii) write queries to the author regarding anything questionable, whereupon

F) The book comes back to the author—yes, again—who

i) re-reads the manuscript

ii) answers the copy-editor’s queries, and

iii) alters anything that the copy-editor has changed that the author disagrees with. After which, the author sends it back to

G) The editor—yes, again!—who

i) re-re-reads it

ii) checks that all the copy-editor’s queries have been answered, and sends it to

H) The Typesetter, who sets the manuscript in type, according to the format laid out by

I) The Book-Designer, who

i) decides on the layout of the pages (margins, gutters, headers or footers, page number placement)

ii) chooses a suitable and attractive typeface

iii) decides on the size of the font

iv) chooses or commissions any incidental artwork (endpapers, maps, dingbats—these are the little gizmos that divide chunks of text, but that aren’t chapter or section headings)

v) Designs chapter and Section headings, with artwork, and consults with the

J) Cover Artist, who (reasonably enough) designs or draws or paints the cover art, which is then sent to

K) The Printer, who prints the dust-jackets--which include not only the cover art and the author’s photograph and bio, but also “flap copy,” which may be written by either the editor or the author, but is then usually messed about with by

L) The Marketing Department, whose thankless task is to try to figure out how best to sell a book that can’t reasonably be described in terms of any known genre [g], to which end, they

i) try to provide seductive and appealing cover copy to the book

ii) compose advertisements for the book

iii) decide where such advertisements might be most effective (periodicals, newspapers, book-review sections, radio, TV)

iv) try to think up novel and entertaining means of promotion, such as having the author appear on Second Life to do a virtual reading, or sending copies of the book to the armed troops in Iraq, or booking the author to appear on Martha Stewart or Emiril Lagasse’s cooking show to demonstrate recipes for unusual foods mentioned in the book.

vi) kill a pigeon in Times Square and examine the entrails in order to determine the most advantageous publishing date for the book.

M) OK. The manuscript itself comes back from the typesetter, is looked at (again) by the editor, and sent back to the author (again! As my husband says, “to a writer, ‘finished’ is a relative concept.”), who anxiously proof-reads the galleys (these are the typeset sheets of the book; they look just like the printed book’s pages, but are not bound), because this is the very last chance to change anything. Meanwhile

N) A number of copies of the galley-proofs are bound—in very cheap plain covers—and sent to

O) The Reviewers. i.e., the bound galleys are sent (by the marketing people, the editor, and/or the author) to the book editors of all major newspapers and periodicals, and to any specialty publication to whom this book might possibly appeal, in hopes of getting preliminary reviews, from which cover quotes can be culled, and/or drumming up name recognition and excitement prior to publication.

Frankly, they don’t always bother with this step with my books, because they are in a rush to get them into the bookstores, and it takes several months’ lead-time to get reviews sufficiently prior to publication that they can be quoted on the cover.

P) With luck, the author finds 99.99% of all errors in the galleys (you’re never going to find all of them; the process is asymptotic), and returns the corrected manuscript (for the last time, [pant, puff, gasp, wheeze]) to the editor, who sends it to

Q) The Printer, who prints lots of copies (“the print-run” means how many copies) of the “guts” of the book—the actual inside text. These are then shipped to

R) The Bindery, where the guts are bound into their covers, equipped with dust-jackets, and shipped to

S) The Distributors. There are a number of companies—Ingram, and Baker and Taylor, are the largest, but there are a number of smaller ones—whose business is shipping, distributing, and warehousing books. The publisher also ships directly to

T) The Bookstores, but bookstores can only house a limited number of books. Therefore, they draw on distributors’ warehouses to resupply a title that’s selling briskly, because it takes much longer to order directly from the publisher. And at this point, [sigh]…the book finally reaches

U) You, the reader.

And we do hope you like it when you get it—because we sure-God went to a lot of trouble to make it for you. [g]

6) As it happens, Random House (who publishes my books in the US and Canada) prefers to publish my titles in the Fall quarter (between September 1 and December 31). That’s because this is traditionally the biggest sales period in the year, what with the run-up to Christmas, and therefore all the publishers normally release their “big” titles in the Fall. I’m flattered to be among them.

If I do finish the manuscript around the end of this year, Random House (and the UK publisher, Orion, and the German publisher, Blanvalet) will have just about the right amount of time to do all the production steps described above, in order to release the book in Fall of 2009

(The other foreign editions—I think we’re now up to 24 countries, including Israel, Croatia, Russia, and Greece, which is pretty cool—will be out whenever their respective editors and translators finish their production processes, but I’m afraid I can’t predict that at all.)

So—that’s why the English and German-speaking readers will almost certainly get An Echo in the Bone in Fall of 2009.

When I have a specific publication date, rest assured—I’ll tell you.

That’s probably enough information to be dealing with in one go, so I’ll come back a little later and tell you about graphic novels, anthologies, and Other Weird Stuff.


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