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Random Thoughts About Whatever Comes to Mind

A Researcher's Dream

Haven't posted for months, but there's a reason. It's been a busy summer, writing-wise. I finished Maggie and Me: A Granddaughter's Memoir, to be published on 12/15; ARCs are going out even as I write this - there's a link to the title's website in the QUICK LINKS column of this page if you'd like to hear me talk about the book (the site also incorporates a Readers' Guide and an Online Press Kit). I edited my new mystery in the Art Dodger Series, The Mystery of the Missing Majorette, which is also supposed to be published in the coming quarter. I began a new series of short fiction under the Antiques Are Us name, and have so far finished three segments: The Quilt Hater; Tempest in a Teapot; and Best When Ripe.

The above, however, satisfying as it may be to me as a list of activities explaining why I've rarely seen sunshine in the last three months, isn't the point of this post. Today, I had one of those fun moments known only to those of us blessed (or cursed, depending on your point of view) with the researcher's mindset. Read More 
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Memoirs: Truth vs. truthiness?

Writers and readers face a conundrum when it comes to memoirs. Should they reflect truth or, as S. Colbert would have it, "truthiness?" Should we write and/or read them with our heads or our hearts? In a way, it comes down to the old divide between art and experience.

The issue acquires special resonance when you're not talking about a memoir per se but rather a fictional account of a life's true events.

Ian Parker's penetrating article 'Inheritance' in the June 2 issue of The New Yorker (pp. 43-55) addresses this indirectly by putting Edward St. Aubyn under much the same sort of microscope through which St. Aubyn examines the characters in his unsettling Melrose novels. While claiming not to be a memoirist, St. Aubyn views the contents of the Melrose novels as memories "treated novelistically," and Parker dedicates much of the article to pinpointing the relationship between truth, creative integrity, and narrative necessity in the novels. Just how much, in other words, is reportage and how much is not?  Read More 
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The Awesomeness of Subject Matter Experts!

As a consultant who's been privileged to work on many major projects for Fortune 50 companies, I'm always impressed by what SMEs bring to the table in addition to their primary field of expertise.

I've just had another example of that little miracle in the person of Ken Cohen, professional voiceover talent who narrated and  Read More 
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Still Love Audiobooks!

My great book-to-audiobook adventure via ACX began nine months ago. It's a pleasure to report that I am now responsible for four audiobook titles live on Audible, iTunes and First was Elisabeth Gray's interesting rendition of Christmas and the Other Grandmother, recalling a memorable day I spent with my father's mother, going to her large family's annual holiday dinner. Next came No Instructions Needed, Charles Kahlenberg's evocative reading of my husband Robert's vignettes of the toys and pastimes of his boyhood. Next to appear was Suzie Vail's warm yet businesslike narration of Networking for the Career-Minded Student. Now, hot from the postproduction suite, is Ken Cohen's fresh and intuitive read of The Japanese Tea Ceremony and the Shoguns.

Working with Elisabeth, Chas, Suzie, and Ken has been a pleasurably creative experience, one I'd highly recommend to other authors. Apart from anything else, hearing your words interpreted by a professional is enlightening.

ACX is a great connecting point for rights holders and narrators.  Read More 
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Fascinated with Audiobooks!

In September I heard about ACX's program to facilitate turning books into audiobooks. At once I went to it and posted several projects. One audiobook - Christmas and the Other Grandmother - is already live on A second - No Instructions Needed - is about to enter ACX's quality-review process prior to going on sale. The third - Networking for the Career-Minded Student - is due in late January.  Read More 
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Broken Business Model

It's interesting that so little attention has been paid to the core cause of the vulnerability of traditional, paper-based publishers to eBooks and Amazon. Maybe this is because it's always been the elephant in the room, i.e., any business model that accepts a distribution system in which the company selling the product may not know  Read More 
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Dr. Johnson and Tea

Did you know that Dr. Johnson of Dictionary fame drank pots of hot tea each day? Maybe it was the tannin that prompted all the words!
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Thank You, Mr. Jobs

Steve Jobs has scaled back his role at Apple. The move wasn’t unexpected. Even so, Apple shares have taken a huge hit after the closing, most likely to rebound if not tomorrow then the next day or the next.

Most accounts say that – contrary to management and leadership fads prevailing during the decades that Jobs has played a major role in the transformation of tech – the man is a micro-manager of the most precise sort. All I can say is that, if this is what it takes to accomplish what his organizations have done, let’s hope Tim Cook knows how to use the same kind of corporate magnifier to keep a close eye on the ongoing Apple enterprise. Read More 
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Whither Editorial Professionalism?

So, okay, let me clarify what I mean by "editorial professionalism." In the context of this post, it refers to a presentation of content that does not distract from the writer's ability to communicate to the reader the intended information, atmosphere, emotion, etc.

Editorial professionalism is determined by specific actions throughout the entire writing continuum from the first draft all the way through to output.

What are the causes of editorial unprofessionalism? The most basic is either carelessness or ignorance on the part of the writer. The second is the sometimes confusing result of grammar- and spell-checking capabilities resident in most full-featured word-processing programs. The third derives from bad composition habits due to the widespread use of communications systems that reward brevity above all other virtues. The fourth is a failure on the part of the publishing house to provide competent editorial support. The fifth relates to glitches in programs that convert publication files into the eBook universe. Read More 
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Should Writers Tweet?

I'll admit it. I've had a circuitous experience with Twitter. An early user, I dropped the first account, as I found myself doing a particularly lazy version of those airline passengers who call those waiting at the terminal to tell them the plane has landed, then call them again to say they're getting their carry-on from the overhead, then call them again to say they're standing in line to de-plane, etc., etc., boring etc. Shortly afterwards, I started tweeting again as a way of keeping in touch with a couple of friends who'd moved away, a substitute for the texting I could no longer use because there's no signal in the high mountain valley where I now live. After that exchange died out (which took about 2 days), I didn't bother to cancel the account, but I didn't tweet for three years.  Read More 
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