Category Archives: Bookmarked!

Bookmarked! 5th May

The New Plastic Logic ereader, due out soonLots of good book stuff happening the past couple of days:

  • Most of you have probably heard by now that Amazon’s releasing a new big-screen Kindle for newspapers, and that they’re working closely with a select group of dailies and news organizations. For those of you who haven’t, see: the New York Times,
  • Busy week for Amazon: they’ve also acquired the Stanza ebook reader for the iPhone. I find it very interesting that more and more publishers are releasing books in print and for Stanza at the same time. And now Amazon’s got their grubby paws on this small company, which probably means that a) Stanza is going to become huge; b) the Kindle app is going to become huge. Stanza uses the ePub ebook format. Watch that: it may well be the ebook format of the future.
  • Locus Novus is a superb multimedia fiction site. I agree with Lee – go read (watch?) Hotel Rot and wait for the message in the last slide … fantastic.
  • Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, has a surprisingly good video over at TED on creativity. QFT: ‘to be fair, chemical engineers, as a group, haven’t earned a reputation over the years for being alcoholic manic depressives … and we writers do.’
  • Talent is overrated. Practice isn’t.
  • Steven Johnson on the Wall Street Journal: how the ebook will change the way we read and write (watch out for the writing for Google section; also, I call bullshit on the Paying Per Chapter section)
  • Here’s a handy link to the Economist Style Guide. Pretty useful, regardless of what kind of writing you do.
Monday, 13 April, 2009

Bookmarked! 12th April

  • Never suffer from a bad blook design again – Readability is a button that makes use of a nifty bit of javascript … you drag into your browser bookmark bar, and it transform any page you’re looking at into something readable in just one click. Gone with the ads, bigger fonts in a font of your choice, plus new background to boot. Go check it out.
  • Writing for a living – a joy or a chore? The Guardian online asks a couple of authors what they think of their chosen vocation … “The joy of writing for a living is that you get to do it all the time. The misery is that you have to, whether you’re in the mood or not.” – from A.L. Kennedy, who looks like she’s stoned.
  • Ira Glass on Effective Storytelling
  • Here’s an interview with film critic Glenn Kenny about David Foster Wallace. Yes, I’m including this only because DFW is my current non-fiction idol.
  • How the Web Made Me a Better Copywriter – lots of stuff I never even thought about; look out for the pointer about odd-numbered bulleted lists being more readable than even numbered ones.
  • First, Use Plain English. William Zinsser, the author of On Writing Well, recalls how he taught Yale students to cut through the clutter. Brilliant piece I say.
  • This is the proper way to format a short story manuscript for submission to a publisher. It’s bloody good stuff. Read it.

Last, but not least: see this collection of grown up Calvin and Hobbes. I think the last one was downright depressing.

Thursday, 12 February, 2009

Bookmarked! 12th Feb

I’ve already posted this to WFG’s forums, but here it is for those of you who’ve missed it: Writer’s Digest has a Self Published Competition going on. The grand prize is a sweet $3000 in cash, and a sweeter endorsement for reviews of the winning self-published book at 10 major reviewing establishments (ie: The New York Times, The Washington Post). And there are 10 first place winners, of $1000 each, with a collection of publishing industry-related presents like magazine subscriptions, ebooks, etc. Only one catch: each submission costs you $100, and I do suspect that it’s a crudely designed (and profit-making) filter for badly written self-published books. Still, for 10 reviews in 10 major newspapers … things like that, when they happen, usually mean a publishing deal and some form of mainstream book career further down the road. A $100 fee seems quite reasonable for a shot at stardom …

Other things to look at: 

And I guess I’ll close with this bookstore ad I found through Sharon:Anagram Bookshop ad, PragueWonder how long they took to do that!

Monday, 19 January, 2009

Bookmarked! 18th Jan

Video on how a book gets made. Fiction apparently takes ’10 to 30 years to finish … many authors will supplement their income with blogging, a far more lucrative field, considered by many to be a higher art form’. One word: Awesome. (via Bibliobibuli)


And I’ll close on a quote from the great Salman Rushdie: 

There is more well written fiction — creative writingese, bloodless, humourless competence ”“ today than there has ever been at any time in history, and less really great literature. This thanks to an epidemic of writing classes.

Craft is the one thing you can teach.

But you can’t teach eye — what to see/select. You can’t teach ear. Or a vision of the world that is interesting. Or how to develop a profound relationship with language.

In other words, you can’t teach people how to create great literature.

Tuesday, 9 December, 2008

Bookmarked! 9th December

As usual, stuff to check out:

  • Ryan contatcted me while I was on hiatus last month to inform me that his publisher Gryphonwood Press is now accepting web fiction subs. Worth a look, and he’s recently announced that they’re taking in submissions for a new anthology. 
  • This is probably one of the saddest articles I’ve seen in awhile: Aida Edemariam on sifting through the publishing industry’s slush pile. She writes that the Internet is causing a decrease in the number of unsolicited manuscripts to publishers, though people still submit them, praying that one’ll eventually be picked up and put to press.

    The internet, of course, means that more and more people publish straight on to the web, either as is, or to get peers to comment on it. Ten years ago Hamish Hamilton was getting 20 manuscripts a week rather than four, and Prosser puts this decrease down not just to active discouragement, but also the ways in which writers are learning to circumvent the traditional machine. “I do think there’s been an opening up,” says Swift. “A lot of writers are taking things into their own hands and publishing online.I think sending things in blind now is about the most stupid thing you can do.”

    Watch out for the article’s ending – it made me sigh.

  • I’d also like to direct you to Amber Simmon’s web fiction project A Timely Raven. I gave it a 4.5 on Web Fiction Guide, and I really recommend you read it. This is non-linear fiction at its best, and Simmons has also leveraged design to present a truly compelling story.
Saturday, 20 September, 2008

Bookmarked! 19th September 2008

Mock exams just ended this morning, so I’m popping by to throw some links your way.

  • David Foster Wallace committed suicide a couple of days back, and it prompted an outcry of sadness from major swathes of the blogosphere. I spent much of my (already limited) online time reading articles dedicated to his memory, excerpts of his work, and pretty much catching up on his life and times. It felt strange, knowing I should be mourning the loss of a brilliant writer, but I had no idea who he was. McSweeney’s has a long thread of people penning their memories of him, amongst them Zadie Smith:

    He was my favourite. I didn’t feel he had an equal amongst living writers. We corresponded and met a few times but I stuttered and my hands shook. The books meant too much to me: I was just another howling fantod. In person, he had a great purity. I had a sense of shame in his presence, though he was meticulous about putting people at their ease. It was the exact same purity one finds in the books: If we must say something, let’s at least only say true things.

    Ah, the ignorance of youth. I am left with dipping my hands into a stagnant pool of work, never to know how it must have felt like to know Wallace in person.

  • Muse’s Success is a new listing site, similar in concept to Pages Unbound (read: crowd powered, no editors). Programmer Chris Clarke says it’s running on WordPress for the time being, but plans are underway to switch to a custom platform. Interested writers submit your work here.
  • Lethe Bashar has completed the Las Vegas section of his The Novel Of Life. I’m still reading the first part, though, so I can’t really tell you how it is. Project page has a wonderful summary; check it out here.
  • Sol Mann’s blook: Estimated Time of Arrival, is based on his true experiences with travel and drugs (amongst other things) in Costa Rica.
  • I wrote about Urbis sometime ago, and it seems that they’ve gotten a literary agency to check out the writers on their site. Their PR blurb says they’ve ‘started with the best’: one LJK Literary Management, under Time Warner Book CEO Larry Kaufman. Opportunity page over here.
  • Why people pirate games. Some very interesting insights on why and how piracy works on the Internet.

Saturday, 16 August, 2008

Bookmarked! Free Books; Pirated Books

Alan Giles, blogging for The Bookseller, yesterday wrote an article comparing Radiohead’s album experiment to the book industry. He points out:

But here’s the most surprising conclusion from “In Rainbows”; despite an explicit invitation by the band to legally download the album for free, huge numbers chose to do so illegally. Research by Will Page, chief economist of copyright organisation MCPS-PRS Alliance, and Eric Garland, c.e.o. of online media researcher Big Champagne, reported 400,000 such “torrents” in the first day, and 2.3 million over the first 25 days. Yet by any standards the album has been a huge commercial success. Page and Garland conclude that “torrents and legal downloads are complements, not competitors”.

He comes to an interesting close when he talks about the music industry’s attitude towards piracy in the 1980s:

.. the (then) record industry publicly argued that “home taping is killing music”, while recognising that hard-up students who had developed a love of music through illegally copying might become core buyers in later life.

It is worth pointing out here that piracy doesn’t affect the publishing industry as much as it does the music one. I’d be more worried about the lack of offline readers and the lower margins the publishing industry faces today than the possibility of copyright infringement. Though, on the other hand, I admit to downloading a copy of Breaking Dawn recently (ehheh!) after finding out that the Malaysian release was delayed for a week. The difference here being that I’d buy the book the instant it hit local bookstores – owning a paper copy is priceless and forever, and a lot more meaningful to me than a .lit file. (Special thanks to Sharon of Bibliobibuli for highlighting this article)

Other links worth checking out:

  • Some of my predictions regarding Pages Unbound’s close have come true: discussions about a replacement/clone site have sprung up in the PU forums. Interested writers contact Rose here.
  • The New York Times on why we capitalize our ‘I’s.
  • A long transcript answering the question ‘How Is the Internet Changing Literary Style?
  • Just found out about Yochai Benkler‘s book The Wealth Of Networks. Benkler explores the reality of making money through user generated content, though Nicholas Carr has a wager going on that the only reason volunteers still exist is because there isn’t really any way to make money off them. The book is available for free here.
  • Daniel Hall writes in The Economist about how technology is fragmenting the music industry, and – like many others – goes on to throw the gauntlet in the book industry’s direction.

If it seems that more and more people are seeing the parallels between both industries, then it is because they are. The Internet has disrupted many things for many people and the general situation we’re seeing on the ground now is mass confusion. Which equals opportunity. Exciting times, this.

PS: Alexandra Erin‘s not gotten back to me on the future of Pages Unbound, so I’m in the dark as to what her descicions are. Somebody help, please?

Sunday, 2 March, 2008

Bookmarked! 1st March

A graphical representation that resembles a rainbow, of all bliblical cross references

I admit some of the articles here are old, but I’ve been hoarding links for awhile now with never enough time to post them up. The picture above, for instance, is a graphical representation of all the cross references in the Bible. Click the picture for the source, or read on:

Three online storytelling efforts (read: webcomics) that deserve mention:

  • Garfield Minus Garfield is a good look at the Garfield comic strips without the orange cat. It turns the strip into an ‘even better comic about schizophrenia, bipolor disorder, and the empty desperation of modern life’.
  • Adam’s Apple. Requires an understanding of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, the Macbook Air … and God.
  • The Life Of Mann is an online graphic novel that features a different artist every chapter. Both The Museum Of Modern Fiction and The Life Of Mann are the projects of Josef Lee, a Singaporean artist and graphic designer.

PS: I’ve got a break coming up, so I will have enough time to post up some articles I’ve been working on. I apologize for my inactivity: exams really are not letting up.

PPS: Novelr has gone through a server change and a minor redesign, and I hope it’s better, faster, and easier to read. Enjoy.

Wednesday, 26 December, 2007

Bookmarked! The Quick Fall Of The (Blog) Book

The Death Of ReadingI love Sharon Bakar. Just the other day I found two articles via her blog (Bibliobibuli) entitled ‘The Sharp Rise (And Quick Fall) Of The Blogger’s Books.’ It is the ugly sound of publishers waking up to reality: blogger popularity will not translate to book sales. A particularly telling sentence:

… “built-in” audience or not, it all comes down to content. “A good writer is a good writer,” says Leitch. “Dana Vachon’s book (Mergers & Acquisitions), which was based on his blog – the key to that, it wasn’t about a guy that blogged. He’s a real writer. I don’t think anyone picks up the book and is like, ‘Hey, where are the links?'”

Wonderful stuff.

On a partially related front: does writing really matter? Caleb Crain writes in the New Yorker that reading may very well die out: instead, people will communicate through more visual mediums. The image that hit me was Socrates laughing away in his grave – he believed writing to be inferior to conversation.

A paragraph that made me cringe:

… but some sociologists speculate that reading books for pleasure will one day be the province of a special “reading class,” much as it was before the arrival of mass literacy, in the second half of the nineteenth century. They warn that it probably won’t regain the prestige of exclusivity; it may just become “an increasingly arcane hobby.”

In which case you and I will be very rare people indeed.

Friday, 10 August, 2007

Bookmarked! August 9th

  • James from JPS/fact (formerly Progression, which I quoted from in my post about lousy blook quality) is asking a favour from all of us. He’s currently doing a PhD on the influence of the internet on traditional print fiction, and he wants to compile a list of novels (printed & published) that have been influenced by the internets, either being published as fake blogs, emails, web pages and such. Go, on, give him a hand – his blog has amazing insights into the world of online (and blog) fiction.
  • While you’re there read his post on online fiction and popularity – there’ll a few points to think about, though it’s written as a rant.
  • Duane Poncy from Elohi Gadugi (and The Germaine Truth) has done something truly laudable: setting up a forum, Creative Blogs, for blook writing and online reading. Go join up, and quickly!
  • Business Standard – Read a good blook lately?
  • After releasing Sophie (which I covered here), The Institute For The Future Of The Book is hard at work again. They’ve outdone themselves with CommentPress, a plugin that helps give context to blog comments in a post. I can already see fascinating applications for it – non-fiction blooks in particular have great use for context sensitive reader and author interaction. TIFTFOTB projects are usually academic in nature – so I’ll not be surprised if the world of academia (and academic blogs in particular) employ this plugin to dissect articles and posts. Peer review, anyone?
Saturday, 28 July, 2007

Bookmarked! July 28th

  • Just discovered Xlibris: a ‘strategic partner of Random House Ventures’. Much like Lulu, only … smaller, and connected to a traditional publishing house at that.
  • Anne Wayman tells us how Writers can stop Global Warming.
  • [Blook]: Death On The Beach. Blooked on a ‘displaced Blackberry’, and currently on Chapter 4.
  • [Blook]: I have read half of the first arc of Omen of Chaos, and … well. Carlos is prolific and enthusiastic, and really dedicated to the story, but OoC is not something you’ll find in a bookstore anytime soon. I’m keen to see what he writes next, though: someone who writes so much can only get better and better at it.
Monday, 11 June, 2007

Bookmarked! June 10th

Article 1. Movable Type 4 is now open sourced! It’s the one blogging software I’ve been yearning to try out – and I daresay that it just might beat WordPress as the ideal platform to blook on (marginally easier to code for, but I don’t know yet). I’ll be installing it as soon as I can find the time, and I’ll do a writeup on it, to complete that series on blogging platforms I did awhile back.

Article 2. I Was Just So Relieved the Zombie Didn’t Keep a Blog


1. Charlie Baker sent me a contact message just the other day, alerting me to The Fantasy Years. I’ve tried coming up with a description for it, but I think his words are the best:

It’s satire about America inthe 1990s. It’s unabashedly political. I’m a journalist- Charlie Baker is just a pen name – and my writing is very newsy and based in the real world. It’s pretty much completed and I’m just posting it in small pieces. I’d be curious about your comments.

I can’t at the moment, since I’ve only glanced through it – and I apologize, Charlie. But I’ll make it up to you within two weeks.

2. Lee left me a comment and a link back to his blook: Mortal Ghost. It’s YA, and the first page tells you outright where you can read, how you can read, and where to find every chapter. Again, just a quick glance through – but he’s completed it and even prepared podcasts!

Going to close this really short Bookmarked! post with a site that’s incredibly addictive: One Sentence, which works exactly like it says. Postsecret in words.