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Thanks for subscribing and thanks especially to those of you who took the time to send me feedback, much appreciated. Now, without further approximation of an Oscars acceptance speech. More insight into the writing life.

So, what's in our second newsletter?



Housekeeping

We have to do the housekeeping even when an idea that will make that troublesome character's predicament demands to be put to paper.

WritersNet Mail: you suggested it and we did it. A reader suggested that he would like to have "my chosen profession in my email address." Could we offer Web based mail a la Hotmail and Yahoo? We could. WritersNet now offers an online mailbox for all your writing related correspondence.
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Contact me at HamishG@writers.net

We are always keen to hear about your content ideas. Get in touch with us if you have a writing story to tell or some knowledge to share. But please note that we can't afford to pay for content at this stage.

Forthcoming in the newsletter:

  • we'll be asking for your help with developing a WritersNet critique forum.
  • we'll be reviewing writing related books.
  • Beel zebub's attorney will provide an opinion - he's tied up helping publishers avoid paying for use of archived work by freelancers at the moment: see Words on the Web
Got your own ideas for the newsletter? We'd love to hear them. Contact us.

Thought Provoking Stuff

Serial Thoughts on Fiction Serials

I raised the subject of serializing fiction last time, pointing out that The Wall Street journal was publishing a fiction serial. Fantasy heavyweight, Tad Williams has launched a serial fiction project of his own. He says his project is not an ebook but, instead, something akin to a television series. He invites his readers to play many parts in the project. They can be fan, reading audience member, focus group participant or story developer. Publishing is evolving as the new millennium begins. Check out Williams' Shadowmarch.
Discuss new forms of publishing in our forums.

Is It Autobiographical Then, Ms. Author?

Hanif Kureshi offended some people very close to him with his novel Intimacy .  Madeline O'Dea shows Kureshi has always written personal fiction. But Intimacy, "the best thing Kureishi has ever written," drew vitriolic comment from reviewers aware of how closely its subject matter reflected recent events in Kureshi's life...  More
Discuss the blurred line between authors' lives and the lives they create in our forums.

Who Said Publishers Don't Want Short Stories?

Nell Freudenberger, an assistant at the New Yorker, has secured a US$100,000 two book deal for a yet to be written short story collection and novel on the strength of one story in the magazine's "Debut Fiction" issue. But wait, there's more! She turned down a $500,000 two book deal to work with the editor of her choice. 

I know: it is either encouraging or enraging depending on whether one's glass is half empty or half full. Anyway. Have you checked out the bestseller list s lately? Jhumpa Lahiri's Pulitzer price winning collection of stories, Interpreter of Maladies, is a regular feature in the top tens. And Fraudenberger is not the first New Yorker debutante to secure a lucrative two book deal 2E.. More
Discuss publishing short story collections in our forums.

An Epublishing Lead: Anyone Got a Soapbox?

Many writers tar epublishing with the same scornful brush that they take to vanity publishing. Those of you who spend time in the WritersNet forums will know what I mean. I think they are making a mistake. The jury isn't out on epublishing; you could say, they haven't even begun to hear testimony.

All writers should be keeping a close eye on developments. Not least, because the signs are that epublishing will offer a higher proportion of sales receipts from books. The revolution is coming.

Well, watching the epublishers just got easier. As of this Monday, you can visit one site for a comprehensive overview of the epublishing world. Ebookweb.org descends from Ebooknet.com and, like it, is a creation of Glenn Sanders and Wade Roush. Gemstar backed Ebooknet, after the usual Internet mergers and acquisitions story. But Gemstar pulled the financial plug after the site failed to be sufficiently pro their eBook platform. Sponsors of, new ly launched, Ebookweb accept that the editors of the site retain complete editorial independence. 

Visit http://www.ebookweb.org to inform yourself about epublishing. Sanders and Roush are passionate advocates of epublishing. So, pack a grain of skeptics salt when you visi t the site but you will leave better informed.


The WritersNet Forum Word on Writing

What are they talking about in the WritersNet forums? Well...

Some Agents Recommend Legit Editors for Legit Reasons
The writing world is not black and white but shaded by gray and illuminated by bright colors. This long running thread reveals that an agent who suggests a subscription needs professional editing is not always a charlatan. Editors are an invaluable participant in the production process of most successful books...   More

Agents: The Crooked and the Incompetent
You thought fraudsters where the main jokers in the agent pack. Think again. Watch out for incompetents when looking for an agent... Jerome was wondering whether his ex-agent would forgive and forget their falling out. His post set fingers typing and the resulting thread revealed much about agents. Patroness of forum participants, Victoria Strauss offered some enlightening long posts: More.

I suspect that Jerome will be happy to leave the bridge burnt with his erstwhile agent after all.

"Blokes and Sheilas in Dialogue?"
Jenny revealed her antipodean origins in her post's title. The resulting threads reveal ways to keep your dialogue plausible. What is that about men gossiping more than women? Surely not. More and more again.

(N.B. Jenny posted her question in two forums at once. Best to stimulate discussion in one forum at a time. Cross posting just dilutes the discussion.)

Struggling with distractions that keep you from writing?
Hiding in the bathroom, running taps and scribbling while you can. People do it, apparently. Mariann wanted to know how to write with young children around. Forum members shared their experiences, including the grab some time by "going to the bathroom" option. It can be hard to fit writing around life. More.

Something to try at home

Visit the Guardian Newspaper's online book section - a cyber place that is worth visiting often. Have a loo k at their collection of first chapters.The index page of the collection offers an opportunity to compare the way authors begin books:

  • Don't click on any of the links on the page.
  • Read each extract on the page carefully and note the different ways each writer tries to grab the reader's attention.
  • Then pull out the first chapter of your novel/book.
  • Ask yourself the question: "How could I make my opening lines more compelling?"
  • Refer back to the Guardian Unlimited page and think about an answer to the question.

Suggest something for writers to try at home.

Words on the Web

They are talking about writing and books all over the Web. Here are some snippets of an ongoing conversation:

You don't need to suffer:
Bernard Cornwell is, perhaps, best known for his Sharpe novels but he has tackled the Arthurian legends and the American Civil War, among other things historical, in a prolific career. He tells, January Magazine's, Linda Richards that as a "story teller" he is anything but "the tortured artist:"
More

Bringing words Across the pond:
Sourcebooks is new to publishing fiction. Publisher Dominique Raffah trumped the New York houses in grabbing the rights to, celebrity British writer, Tony Parsons' novel Man and Boy. What might stop a very successful British novel being a success with readers across the Atlantic?
More

The Tasini vs. The New York Times saga continues:
In case you've missed it - there are still places in the world beyond the reach of the media - Jonathan Tasini, the NWU president, recently won a historic victory over the NYT regarding rights to electronic archives of stories. The story is far from over:

The NWU version of ongoing events: http://www.nwu.org/tvt/tvthome.htm

Wired Magazine summarized things soon after the event:
More

Writer, Dan Fost wrote some pieces for the NYT in the early 90's. He is considering his options:
More

Big Chainstores Good not Bad:
Brooke Allen, writing in The Atlantic Monthly, puts together a long but interesting case to support her contention that the chain stores are good rather than bad for the book trade. What is it to writers? Have you heard the marketing mantra: 'know your market"?
More

Write Better Press Releases:
This site is obviously trying to sell you something but if you need to publicize your writing efforts it is worth visiting. Get free tips on putting together a press release that will grab attention.
More

An interview not a plug:
Interviews with John Irving are popping up all over the place. Might be something to do with the publication of his new book. (What was I saying about publicizing your writing efforts, just now?) This interview appears at the Borders book chain site. I think it stands out from the bunch. (What was Brooke Allen saying about chain stores being good not bad?) Irving touches on writing in the third person, Dickens, keeping the child within alive, screen writing and planning the end of novels, among other things:
More

Why not another interview:
Bookends talks to Anita Shreve of The Pilots Wife. Learn how Shreve works up a story and how her characters have lives beyond one book: More

When is parody plagiarism?
The publishers of the controversial The Wind Done Gone put their case to the public:

More





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Well that's it for this time. I hope you have found something of use here. Please don't hesitate to let me in on your ideas for this newsletter and WritersNet. We want to know what writers want from us; so, we can deliver it.

Hoping your thoughts are creative and the words are flowing.

Hamish Gilbertson
WritersNet


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